Federation citizens could apply for this test. After they had completed this preliminary test, they might be chosen to do the actual entrance exam. For non-Federation citizens it was also possible to do the entrance exam, however their request needed to be backed by a letter of reference from a command level Starfleet officer. Nog became a Starfleet cadet with the backing of Commander Benjamin Sisko. (DS9: "Heart of Stone")
The exam itself was designed to look for certain qualities a person displayed, including: integrity, intelligence, courage, imagination, and leadership qualities. Candidates were told to expect the unexpected during this exam.
An entrance exam could be made up of the following tests:
- Dynamic relationships test - a spinning 3D cube consisting of a grid of blue dots in a 6×6×6 configuration, totaling 216 individual points. Surrounding the cube were 216 red dots flying around in a seemingly random pattern. To complete this test each of the red dots must match up with a blue dot. The solution required discovering the appropriate rotation factor and vector coordinates.
- Hyperspace physics test - among others, it featured a trick question: "If the matter and antimatter tanks on a Galaxy-class starship are nine-tenths depleted, calculate the intermix ratio necessary to reach a starbase one hundred light years away at warp factor 8." It was a trick question because there is only one matter/antimatter intermix ratio, that being one to one.
- Psych test - this test allowed the candidate face his or her deepest fears. The test itself was tuned to the experiences of the candidate. Wesley Crusher found this section of the test the most difficult and fearsome.
- Other cultures and species test - not always announced in advance, it had the purpose to test the candidate how he or she reacted when a member of another species was encountered. The reaction of the candidate was important.
- Carlundrum IQ test - here the candidate had to predict the variable patterns of platonic solids. The response time was important.