UKiset UK Independent Schools’ Entry Test: Ultimate Guide

Hoping to send your child to a British private school, but living overseas? Here is a breakdown of everything you need to know about the UKiset test, a key component of the international admissions process. 

UKiset: What is it?

In a nutshell, the UKiset is an assessment for international students who want to enter the British education system. Independent schools will look at the results of the test when considering an overseas applicant’s academic potential and level of English. 

The UKiset – which is taken on the computer – is designed to level the playing field for pupils across the globe and helps teachers see how a candidate compares to students of the same age in the British school system.

The single assessment can be used to apply to multiple schools, and some head teachers offer places based solely on UKiset results and references. However, children are often asked to sit school-specific entrance exams as well. 

UKiset: Who can take the test?

The test is for pupils between 9 and 18 years of age, and can be taken by native and non-native English speakers. The computerised questions are adaptive and age appropriate, and will get harder if the candidate gets the answer correct, and easier if they get it wrong.

What does it cover?

The UKiset has three distinct sections designed to test different skills, and takes between 2 and 2.5 hours to complete (for sixth form candidates it may last a little longer).

The assessment is made up of:

  • Reasoning: this section consists of verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning and mathematical reasoning.
  • Reading and listening: candidates will sit the Cambridge English test, a multiple choice paper that assesses receptive language skills.
  • Essay writing: students will be asked to produce a short, handwritten essay to demonstrate their expressive language skills.

How much does it cost?

The assessment costs £295, a figure which includes registration, arrangement of a test date, invigilation fees, results sent to the candidate, and the full UKiset profile sent to up to five schools. 

If you are applying to more than five schools, extra choices can be added at £50 per school.

Where can you take the UKiset?

The assessment must be sat at a registered test centre, as opposed to at home. There are now test centres located in over 130 countries around the world and, once you have completed your registration, you will be sent your closest test centre location and next available test date.

Some schools will specify where the test should be taken so it is important to check with them first before you book anything.

Which schools require the UKiset test?

Over 270 private schools have received UKiset profiles since its launch. Around 30% of these schools insist that children take the test, while 40% use it as one component of their admissions process for specific parts of the world. 

Schools such as Eton College – which allows overseas students to sit the UKiset rather than its own pre-test – Charterhouse and Cheltenham Ladies College have all adopted it as an admissions procedure.

One of the benefits of the test is that teachers get a very detailed picture of a child’s potential, consisting of four pieces of information: 

(1) The UKiset profile, which includes their personal details, a photo and identification information.

(2) The reasoning score, which is standardised for their age and compared to British students in the same year group.

(3)  The Cambridge English Placement Test result, which provides the student’s academic English level for reading and listening. 

(4) The candidate’s English essay, which is provided it in its raw unmarked form as a demonstration of a child’s ability to express themselves in English.

How can you prepare?

Knowing how to prepare for the UKiset can be difficult as there are no official past papers. However, there are plenty of physical and online revision resources out there – if you know where to look. 

To prepare for reasoning section of the exam, UKiset suggests Bond workbooks. Bond is a cornerstone of 11+ preparation – it has book series on Maths, English, Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning – however it also publishes assessment papers for older children. 

While workbooks are very useful, it is also helpful for children to get used to the online format of the UKiset. Atom Learning, Bofa and Pre Test Plus are all excellent online resources.

For the language element, Cambridge Assessment English has published a huge range of material to help students prepare for the Cambridge English test. You should also encourage your child to watch English television or listen to English songs and radio to familiarise them with the language. 

For the essay section, the best preparation is to practice writing expository essays on a wide range of topics. Providing opinions orally in English could also help in this area.

If you are looking for more tailored support, Hampstead and Frognal Tutors has a wealth of experience preparing international students for British entrance exams, and offers both face-to-face and online tuition services. 

To make an enquiry, please click here.