Secondary school places: Grammar school assessment process

In Kent and Medway the grammar schools use an additional selection process to the normal criteria to allocate some or all of the places available. This involves prospective pupils taking a test in year 6 to assess their suitability for a grammar school. As this occurs prior to the national deadline for applying for secondary school places it is important to be familiar with the dates and deadlines. Failure to do so will mean that your child will not be considered in the initial allocation phase.

Kent test: details and deadlines

The first stage of the process requires you to register your child to take the Kent test. You will need to do this towards the end of year 5.

Registering for the test

You may register online or by paper. If you are applying in your local area, you should be able to complete this process through your primary school.

Register for the Kent test at www.kent.gov.uk/education-and-children/schools/school-places/kent-test . Dates are yet to be released for registration but they are likely to be from early June until the beginning of July 2015.

When is the test?

If your child attends a primary school inside Kent, then they will take the Kent test at their primary school during the first half of September, probably around September 9, 2015.

If you have registered for the test but don’t live in Kent then your child will take the test on a Saturday after the local pupils take the test at a test centre in the county. Dates to be confirmed.

What will be tested?

The Kent test has two papers. One paper contains English and mathematics questions. In 2014 this had 24 multiple-choice English questions and 30 multiple-choice maths questions. These questions test topics and knowledge covered in primary schools prior to year 6. Some questions will test a higher level of understanding by applying this knowledge to more complex questions.

The other paper assesses reasoning skills and in 2014 contained 80 multiple choice questions. There are questions on verbal reasoning, spatial reasoning and non-verbal reasoning. The verbal reasoning tests the ability of your child to recognise and understand meanings and relationships between words. The spatial reasoning tests their ability to identify similar shapes and understand relations between shapes. The non-verbal reasoning tests their ability to recognise patterns and determine sequences using images and pictures.

Pupils have to select between 5 possible answers for each question.

How is the test marked?

The answers are marked on an optical mark sheet by putting a horizontal line inside a box alongside the answer you think is correct. There will be time spent making sure this is clear during the test. As no other paper or answers will be marked it is important to make sure those children taking the test are confident that they can mark the answers in properly.

Each section of the test is a different length but the scores are standardised to give a result of between 69 and 140 to allow them to be compared. To pass the test for 2015 entry, an overall score of 320 was needed with a minimum score of 106 on each section. This means that a score below 106 in English, maths or reasoning will result in the child failing the test even if their overall score is above 320.

The results of the test are published before the deadline for school applications in October 2015.

Medway test: details and deadlines

Schools within the Medway authority have their own test, which gives access to those grammar schools in the Medway area. The Chatham Grammar Schools will accept a pass in either the Medway test or the Kent test but generally schools in each area use their own test.

Registering for the test

You can register for the test online or via your child’s primary school if they attend a Medway primary school. Online you should go to www.medway.gov.uk/onlineadmissions between June 8 and July 3 2015 and complete this to register.

When is the test?

If your child attends a primary school in Medway, then they will take the test at their primary school on September 15 or 16 unless the school opts for Saturday testing and then it will be on September 19, 2015.

If you have registered for the test but don’t live in Medway then your child will take the test on Saturday 19 2015.

What will be tested?

The Medway test has two test papers and a piece of extended writing. One paper contains multiple-choice mathematics questions which you would expect pupils to have covered by year 6. The other paper assesses multiple-choice verbal reasoning questions. The verbal reasoning tests ability to recognise and understand meanings and relationships between words. The extended writing task provides a more flexible opportunity to express confidence in English by completing a creative task. Pupils will be asked to write a story, create a leaflet or a similar piece of creative writing.

How is the test marked?

The multiple-choice mathematics and reasoning tasks will be marked and the scores standardised to allow for the variations in child age. The writing task is marked using specific criteria for extended writing.

To combine the scores, the mathematics and extended writing scores are doubled and added to the verbal reasoning score. This gives a total of between 350 and 700. To pass the test for entry in 2015 a combined score of 525 was required.

The results of the test are published before the deadline for school applications in October 2015.

How does this affect you now?

If you are considering school places for September 2016 you will need to decide before the end of year 5 whether you will be applying to one of the grammar schools in Kent or Medway. If you are unsure if the schools you are considering use the tests as one of their criteria you should look at the post about selection criteria <link to post on selection criteria (post8)>. If your child passes the relevant test, then they will be considered for a place at the grammar schools in Kent or Medway. However, some schools rank by score or select using criteria that prioritises those students who score 92% or more of the combined score so if you are considering the following schools a higher score may be needed:

Dartford Grammar SchoolThe Judd SchoolMaidstone Grammar SchoolRainham Mark Grammar SchoolRochester GrammarSimon Langton Grammar School for BoysThe Skinners’ SchoolTonbridge Grammar SchoolWilmington Grammar School for Boys

You are unlikely to register your child and get them to sit the test without preparation. This preparation generally takes place in early evenings or during the weekend as primary schools are unlikely to allow this as part of their lessons. You should allow the period from now to the beginning of year 6 to prepare for the test. Any preparation should increase familiarity with the types of questions on the test as this will increase confidence and, as a result, success rates. Intervention in this way is most successful when focusing on the style and format used in the test. Therefore, you may find it helpful to contact a tuition centre or private tuition service where tutors are familiar with the tests and are experienced in providing such support.

At Bright Young Things, we offer tuition at our centres where we will work with your child in small groups to raise their confidence and knowledge to give them the best chance of this success. If you are interested in enrolling your child in one of our tuition centres then contact us by emailing [email protected] or phoning Tunbridge Wells Tuition Centre on 01892 800 492