International parents looking at British schools will have heard a lot about the UKiset. But what exactly is it, and how does it work?
What is the UKiset?
In short, the UKiset is a single assessment test taken by international students, designed for entry into British curriculum schools – specifically in the independent sector. Launched in 2014, It tests English language, numeracy, literacy and reasoning skills, as well as aptitude for learning, comparing applicants’ results to British students of the same age. The test can be sat only once every six months, but can be taken all over the world at an authorised test centre, or in the UK at the UKiset head office, and at some selected schools. The results are valid for one year after sitting.
The test takes approximately 2 hours and is taken mainly online (though there is a handwritten essay component), and UKiset results are accepted by almost all British schools. Unlike its age-specific British equivalents – the 7+, 11+, 13+ or GCSEs – UKiset can be taken by all students aged between 9 years and 6 months and 17 years and 11 months wanting to enter British schools (or UK curriculum schools abroad). The results are usually available 2 business days after taking the test.
Why take the UKiset?
There are several reasons for taking the UKiset. Primarily, it is used for entering British or British curriculum schools, but can also be for students who want to enter a language school or international study centre in the UK.
However, some students (or parents) may simply want to use the UKiset to see where they are compared to British students, or to set improvement objectives over six/twelve month periods. Likewise, teachers may also want to use the UKiset for this purpose.
What does it test?
UKiset measures four key skills areas:
- English skills – grammar, vocabulary, reading comprehension, listening and creative writing
- Mathematics – working with numbers, value, and sequences
- Non-Verbal Reasoning – solving problems using pictures, diagrams and patterns
- Verbal Reasoning – the ability to work with words and language
UKiset do not provide sample papers for the assessment, as it is designed to measure underlying processing skills, rather than learned knowledge. However, the UKiset website recommends working on English skills – improving vocabulary, grammar, receptive (reading and listening) and expressive (speaking and writing) skills, and working on the ability to draw conclusions, make inferences and make predictions.
They also suggest attempting sample questions, especially in verbal and non-verbal reasoning, so candidates can familiarise themselves with the style of questioning.
Each UKiset test generates a results report, known as The Profile Report, which is sent to the candidate shortly after completing the test. This is an overview of the candidate’s performance in the reasoning tests and the Cambridge English assessment. This report includes the following details:
- The candidate’s standardised scores in each battery (verbal, non-verbal and mathematics). The score is standardised against tens of thousands of British students of the same age, in the state and independent school sectors.
- The National Percentile Ranking (NPR) for each assessment battery. This shows where the candidate would be positioned if 100 randomly selected British students of the same age were assessed and ranked from the weakest (1st percentile) to the strongest (99th)
- The Stanine (or Standard Nine) ranking. Again, this is a ranking system based on the NPR – where nine proportional bands (from 1 being the weakest and 9 the strongest) rank performance against British candidates of the same age
- Two average scores. One with and one without the Verbal Reasoning result included. This is done so the candidate’s current English level does not unfairly affect their overall score – we obtain an independent English score using a separate language-specific assessment
- An English CEFR level and raw score. This is provided as an internationally recognised language level of academic English – known as a CEFR level (Common European Framework for Languages)
Schools receive all of this information, plus an even more comprehensive School Report that includes the candidate’s handwritten essay, a detailed breakdown of performance against students studying in independent schools and future exam result chances.
Some schools will use it to filter out the most suitable pupils, who will then go on to take further school-specific tests. Others use it as their sole entrance test, or as a credible document to assess an applicant’s future academic potential. The School Report consists of the following details:
- The Profile Report (as described above)
- Distinct standardisations for national and independent school cohorts
- The candidate’s expository essay – written on the day of the test and demonstrating expressive language skill, structured writing skills, and some of the candidate’s own outlook and opinion.
- Future predicted grades in GCSE, A-Level and IB in a wide range of subjects.
- Implications for teaching and learning
The UKiset Process
1. Registration: fill in a UKiset profile here, providing as much detail as possible. This will be sent to the schools you apply to as part of the School Report, sent after the final assessment. This includes uploading an image of the candidate and providing some identification details for security purposes.
2. UKiset will get in touch, offering you a test date and test centre location
3. The following items must be taken to the test centre on the day of testing:
Photo ID, which must match the passport or ID number provided at registration
A pen, pencil and eraser?
4. After the test, the results will be emailed to the person who registered the candidate – the parents, guardians or an academic agent. Simultaneously, the UKiset School Report will be sent directly to any schools selected during registration. If no schools were selected at that time then the School Report will be stored securely until you notify UKiset of any school choices.
5. The schools that have been sent your child’s UKiset Profile Package (including school report) will respond to you or your agent directly. Alternatively, you will discuss the child’s results and research the schools that would be best suited to their personality and academic ability and inform UKiset where you would like the school report sent. The schools will respond directly to the person who registered the candidate.
6. Finally… At a later date, should the candidate wish to apply to further schools, simply contact UKiset and they can help. Always remember to contact schools you are interested in to check they have places available, or if they have admissions deadlines. And remember! UKiset results and school reports are valid for one year after taking the test.
Much of the information in this blog post is borrowed from the UKiset’s website, which can be found here, if you are still unsure about the process, or have any further questions.
If you are looking for a tutor for any UKiset subject (or all of them!) don’t hesitate to get in touch with us on 0208 819 3276, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can put you in touch with one of our experienced, expert tutors.
By David Bard
David is a Minerva Pro Tutor who specialises in humanities subjects at A Level and is a trained expert in the 7 + and 11 + exams. Outside of tutoring, David writes blogs about everything that’s trending in education.
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