Confession. I’m an absolute Kent Test geek. I’ve been studying the details, and noting down children’s responses to particular questions and timings, for over a decade. Here are some key pieces of information I’m keen to share with you:
1. Timing is everything in this GL Education exam. Papers are short and packed with content. The examiner guide book gives specific arrangements for time checks throughout each paper and they don’t include any call outs in the final few minutes.
2. The verbal reasoning content is considered to be tutor proof. This has been achieved by examining just four key types each time (out of around 25). As the four types are varied each year, the exam feels new every time.
3. You would expect the maths content to start easy, with the final questions on the paper being the most tricky. But it is not arranged this way. Sometimes there are 2 quick questions at the start, but the rest of the content is mixed, and nasty questions can appear very early on.
4. Usually the non-verbal questions are arranged in sets of 12, with around 30 seconds allowed for each question. If a child gets stuck early on, they won’t get to the end of the exercise (I have had to develop a non-chronological approach to address this).
5. Even though the Kent Test 11+ is set by the GL Education exam board, the mock papers that you can buy from GL Education do not match our exam; using them as the basis of a revision programme will not guarantee similar results on the day.
6. Those who use the dated comprehension approach where you read the questions first and then scan the text for answers will fall down in this exam. Inference is central to the test.
7. The Kent Test 11+ is completely different from the Medway Test. Although the maths revision content is similar, the English is examined in a very different way. The timings and the style and layout of the questions is unique to each exam.
8. GL Education has also created the ISEB Common Pre-test (the entrance exam for a significant number of UK public and private schools) and the content and timings are closely matched. However, the complex strategic approach needed for the Kent Test is not necessary for the Pre-test as it is examined one question at a time, on screen.
9. Although the Writing Test in the Kent Test 11+ is only marked if there is a headteacher appeal, it is essential to give it some attention beforehand. Most of these appeals don’t go through (although our parent appeals are 90% successful) but it is possible to swing them with an outstanding writing sample. Even strong writers at school can’t generally produce something good enough at the end of a long day of exams. Yet, last year one of our writing club students did pass at headteacher appeal on the basis of their writing sample, proving it can be done.
10. Mock exams need to be chosen carefully. Most mocks are set by nationwide companies who argue that they match our GL Education exam. The style and timings of the Kent Test are not a match for any of the other UK wide 11+ exams – regardless of whether they are also set by GL – and the risks of the wrong style of exam should not be underestimated.