The Kent Test: a quick Q&A

What's the Kent Test?
This is a selective procedure used by most of the grammar schools in Kent. If your child doesn't pass, they won't be able to offer you a place or even put you on the waiting lists. You'll need to register for the Kent Test at the end of Year 5 and then your child will take the assessment tests in Year 6. The tests are administered by Kent County Council.

Which schools require the children to take tests before they can be considered for admission?

  • Barton Court Grammar School

  • Borden Grammar School

  • Chatham Grammar School for Boys, Medway (the Medway Test - or the Kent Test from 2013)

  • Chatham Grammar School for Girls (the Medway Test - or the Kent Test from 2013)

  • Chatham House Grammar School (for Year 7 places up until 31 Dec 2013, then they will use their own tests)

  • Chaucer Technology School

  • Clarendon House Grammar School (for Year 7 places up until 31 Dec 2013, then they will use their own tests)

  • Dane Court Grammar School

  • Dartford Grammar School

  • Dartford Grammar School for Girls

  • Dover Grammar School for Boys (use the Kent Test and their own Dover Test)

  • Dover Grammar School for Girls (use the Kent Test and their own Dover Test)

  • Folkestone School for Girls

  • Gravesend Grammar School

  • Harvey Grammar School

  • Highsted Grammar School

  • Highworth Grammar School for Girls

  • Invicta Grammar School

  • Judd School

  • Maidstone Grammar School

  • Maidstone Grammar School for Girls

  • Mayfield Grammar School - Gravesend

  • Norton Knatchbull

  • Oakwood Park Grammar School

  • Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School

  • Simon Langton Girls' Grammar School

  • Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys

  • Sir Roger Manwood's School

  • Skinners' School

  • Tonbridge Grammar School

  • Tunbridge Wells Girls' Grammar School

  • Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys

  • Weald of Kent Grammar School

  • Wilmington Grammar School for Boys

  • Wilmington Grammar School for Girls

Do all the selective schools use the Kent Test?

No, a few of the schools organise their own tests. Both the girls’ and boys’ grammars in Dover already run their own ‘Dover Test’ offering an alternative means of access to their schools. It’s possible that more schools will start setting their own tests, so that children will have to sit more than one exam… watch this space.

Does my child have to do the Kent Test?

No, if you don’t want your child to sit the tests, that’s fine - you can apply to schools where that’s not important (eg all ability or comprehensive schools).

When will we find out how my child did?

You’ll find out before you need to apply. Your child needs to get a pass, or the grammar schools can’t consider you. If your child hasn’t taken the Kent Test, there’s no point in applying for a grammar school, as your application will be disregarded (unless there are exceptional circumstances).

Tell me more about the test papers?

There’s a Verbal Reasoning paper (50 minutes), a Non-Verbal Reasoning paper (40 minutes) and a Mathematics paper (an hour). There’s also a writing exercise (an hour). Everything is multiple-choice, apart from the writing paper. The multiple choice papers are marked by an automated marking machine. The writing exercise isn’t marked but may be referred to at a later stage if your child doesn’t get an automatic pass and your child’s headteacher asks for your child to be reassessed. The tests are organised by Kent County Council.

What’s verbal reasoning?

These tests look at how quickly and efficiently children solve problems of increasing difficulty. These include questions using words or numbers and patterns and sequences.

How many kids do the Kent Test?

Lots. In 2011, just over 11,000 children sat the tests (around 55% of the children living in the selective areas). Around 48% ‘passed’ (5,318 children).

Does passing guarantee my child a place at grammar school?

Unfortunately not. Every year, over 60 children pass, and then fail to get into a grammar school, as there aren’t enough spaces for everyone who wants one.

What’s the pass mark?

It varies every year, depending on the results scored by the children. If there are lots of clever kids in the year, the pass mark will be higher than if the children are not quite so academic. In 2011 (for September 2012 entry), a child needed to score a total of 360 or more in the tests, with no single score lower than 119. The score for the previous two years was similar (a total score of 360 or more, with no single score lower than 117). You had to score at least this, to get an automatic pass, regardless of where you lived (ie in a selective area, or non selective area, or out of the County).

My child’s one of the younger ones in their year, will this be taken into account?

Yes, the pass mark is adjusted very slightly to allow for a child's age when they take the tests. Younger children are given a tiny boost to make up for the fact that they’ve been learning for less time, and may have received less schooling. Through a statistical process called standardisation, each child’s score can be compared with those achieved by other children of the same age. So there’s no advantage to being old or young in your year.

What’s the significance of the score?

If you’re applying to the grammar schools in East Kent, your exact mark won’t matter, so long as it’s on or over the pass mark. Applicants will be ranked by other factors, such as the distance from your home to the school, and that’s usually what will determine your chance of success. If your child hasn’t taken the Kent Test, they can’t offer you a place, even if you live in the playground. Schools in West Kent (dubbed the ‘super-selectives’) will rank children according to the score that they get, so it needs to be as high as possible… The super selectives are Judd School, Skinners School, and Tonbridge Grammar School. Judd School’s entry mark is now a staggering 418 (the maximum possible score is 420). Simon Langton’s in Canterbury give priority to boys who score over 365.

How do I apply for my child to take the test?

You need to register first - usually in June/July at the end of Year 5 ( this year, it's 2 July 2012) The tests take place in September when your child starts in Year 6. You’ll have the results back in mid October before you need to apply for schools (the deadline is 31 October). For more information read Kent County Council’s Transfer to Secondary School booklet, available on their website (see Useful Links).

My child doesn’t attend a Kent school…

So? They can still take the Kent Test. Contact Kent CC for more information on 01622 696565.

I want to apply for schools in Medway, Bexley and Bromley…

That's fine. Medway, Bexley and Bromley are separate Local Authorities and have their own assessment process and timetable. Contact the individual Councils for more information. If you live in Kent, you’ll need to apply for schools via Kent County Council, who will coordinate the admissions for you.

My child had an off day when he took the tests…

Your child’s primary school will find out the results before you do (usually at the beginning of October). If your headteacher feels that the results don’t reflect your child’s ability, they can apply for a ‘Headteacher’s Assessment’ (a sort of appeal). This is confidential and usually parents aren’t informed. A panel of heads will look at samples of your child’s work, their written paper in the Kent Test, and a report from the current headteacher. Many children will get places this way (926 children in 2011).

My child didn’t pass but I still want to apply to a grammar school

If your child takes the Kent Test, and doesn’t pass, then a grammar school can’t consider him for a place. If you ignore this fact, then Kent will ignore you if you put a grammar school down on your application form. You can appeal, but you’ll have to wait until after the allocations on 1 March. We know: it sucks.

My child was too ill to attend the tests…

You will need a doctor’s note confirming this. Speak to Kent CC asap.

I moved into Kent too late for my child to take the tests…

Contact Kent CC (and the schools you’re interested in) as soon as possible. If you moved between July and December, you may be able to do a late test. Otherwise you’ll need to apply to the school after allocation day in March and the schools will arrange testing.

Kent admissions toolkit:
Primary schools Admission Calculator
Secondary schools Admission Calculator
Guidance & support:
Important dates
School appeals guides
The Kent Test
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