Kent candidates will take the tests on Wednesday 10 September. External candidates will take them on Saturday 13 September. Everyone will take the tests on one day.
The first test will be an English and Maths paper in multiple-choice format with a separate machine readable (OMR) answer sheet. The English test is the first section. The whole test will take an hour to administer, plus any admin time before formal timing begins. Each sub-test will take 25 minutes, and will be preceded by a five minute practice exercise. Children will be required to stop at the end of the English section and wait for instructions before they start the Maths paper. The English will involve a comprehension exercise plus some additional questions drawn from a set designed to test literacy skills.
The second test will be a Reasoning paper in multiple-choice format. It will take about an hour* to administer, including the practice drills and questions. It will contain a verbal reasoning section and a non-verbal reasoning section of roughly the same length, with the verbal reasoning being the first part. The non-verbal reasoning will be split into four short sections, administered and timed individually (as in the previous tests).
There will still be a writing exercise which will not be marked but may be taken into consideration in borderline cases referred to the local Head Teacher Assessment Panel. 40 minutes will be allowed for the writing task, including 10 minutes to plan the piece.
*Exactly how long the reasoning test takes will depend on how quickly the practice drill and questions are completed before each timed section.
Scores will still be age standardised, using a national standardisation. The score range on each paper will be 69 or 70 to 140 or 141 as now, so the maximum aggregate standardised score would be 280 or 282.
Until Kent pupils have taken the tests it will not be possible to predict the threshold for grammar school but it is probable that it will be set in a similar way, using a minimum aggregate score and a minimum level for a single score.
Wherever the threshold is set, those schools which rank children by aggregate score for admission will continue to work down their list of applicants in score order, taking the highest scorers first, so the only effect of the changes will be that the scores involved will be different because fewer tests are involved.
You cannot appeal against a Kent Test Result, only against a decision not to be awarded a grammar school place you have applied for.
My own view is that under the new arrangements there is a significantly greater chance of material leaking between Wednesday and Saturday than previously, for what I have seen of English multiple choice tests suggests that some themes are memorable and will be remembered.
As in previous years, KCC will determine a set of marks across the elements, four this year, which will identify 21% of children from the traditional selective areas of Kent to be selected. Many will argue that this is not a precise science. It certainly is not, and a major weakness of the selective system remains as it has always been, that on a different day, many different children would have been found of grammar school ability than those who actually were. By reducing the number of questions in each section, there is now inevitably a larger element of luck in which question types come up in the test.
The biggest and really only significant change is that English comprehension and the test to measure literacy skills are likely to be given the same weighting as the other three elements, with a minimum score being required in all four. This will certainly see a different profile of successful candidates and I would estimate a higher proportion of girls will be successful than in previous years, a judgement based on statistics from those years. A spin off from this would of course be a reduction in pressure on boys’ grammar school places in West and North West Kent.
I would welcome further comment in order to ensure the article covers relevant issues.