Expert advice on the admissions process for some of the UK's top grammar schools.
The Kent Grammar Schools use what is called the Kent Test for their 11 plus exam. Around 25% of Kent schools spaces are at Grammar Schools. The remainder at High Schools. Not all pupils choose to take the Kent Test.
This is a three part test – English, Maths and Verbal Reasoning. There is also a written test as a part of the English test but it is not assessed unless there is an appeal to the Head Teachers Panel.
The test is multiple choice based. While it appears to be a Test set and run by Kent, it is not. Unlike the Essex Test which is created by the Essex schools, the Kent Test is bought from GL Assessment. As such, there are many additional resources available for it than can be found on the Kent schools website.
In order to be accepted for a Grammar School the child must meet a minimum threshold of total points across the three tests with score above a minimum in each test. The thresholds vary slightly each year. It is also important to realise that there is a standardisation process which is applied to the raw scores before you get a final score.
There are three papers, English and Maths and Verbal reasoning. The intent is that each paper has an equal weighting and that no student is disadvantaged because of their age in the school years. Two standardisations are applied to students’ raw score to achieve this.
The first is designed to make sure that the two tests have the same weighting even though students might have found one test on average easier than the other test. In general, this means that the English test tends to be given greater weight in the final result than would have been the case from the raw scores.
The test scores are further age-standardised to ensure that older pupils do not have an unfair advantage. Typically, there is a greater age adjustment made for English results than for Maths results.
Practically, the end result of this standardisation is that a child needs to get around 78% right overall to be accepted into Grammar School but with no individual score below around 76%. This means that you must be good across the board. Around half of all the pupils who take the Kent Test, pass it.
Unlike in some areas (for example, the Essex Grammar schools) there are not different pass marks by school.
There will be people who say that you cannot drill or prepare for the entrance exams. The results from the Kent Test disprove that thesis. Of all the state school applicants for the Kent Grammar schools, 43% passed the test. But 63% of the private school applicants passed the test. Note that these numbers are higher than the 25% of pupils who are at Kent Grammar schools because not all children choose to take the Kent Test.
When considering if a tutor is right for you, you should particularly consider the needs of boys. State educated girls are much more likely to pass the Kent Test than state educated boys. However, boys from private school outperform all other groups. In fact, just looking at the top scores for the Kent Test for 2020, boys from private schools made up just 18% of all applicants but they had 53% of the full marks in the Kent Test.
In essence, you can teach for the Kent Test with great tutoring.
Kent also operates what is effectively an appeals process. Head teachers can refer any pupil to a head teachers panel. This is a panel of four different head teachers who can review whether or not a child who has failed to be offered a place as a result of the Kent Test should in fact get a place.
Around half of all appeals are successful. Around half of all successful appeals are where a child has got a sufficient overall number of points but has not hit the minimum score in one of the three elements. To make this decision, the Panel relies on the written test done in the Kent Test – which is otherwise not graded. Other work submitted by the school and the SAT results for the child.
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