Testing times

Sponsored: Covid has changed the landscape forever, says Isabel Sheehan of Gabbitas, but how should schools adapt their admissions processes accordingly?

Over recent years we have seen many shifting trends within the world of education, especially movements towards an increasing reliance on a more digital approach to learning, research and assessment. Arguably, Covid-19 has served as a catalyst in accelerating a move to learning online out of necessity, and with it has brought many fresh challenges to schools, as well as exacerbating long-standing ones.

Not only have schools had to race to create a stable online provision for remote learning in order to efficiently teach their pupils, but they also still face the challenge of securing new applicants that fit in with the ethos and academic rigour of the school.

It goes without saying that a key factor of ensuring this is the method in which the candidates are assessed when they apply, and given that schools can no longer invite candidates to visit in person they must work out how to make their admissions ‘Covid-friendly’, without compromising the insight that their assessments previously provided, all whilst ensuring that it remains as smooth a process as possible.

Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, many schools had already made use of tools like the ISEB Common Pre-Test or the UK Independent Schools’ Entry Test (UKiset), alongside their own internal assessments, as means of testing potential pupils. The reasons for this are that these tests are adaptive and there is no need for candidates to sit the assessment at the exact same time as everyone else taking it, as each individual’s questions are bespoke. 

Covid has, in many ways, made these methods of testing imperative given that the majority of candidates, especially international ones, are unable to be physically present at the school to take the test.

While preparing for these tests, they learn valuable transferable skills which will help them going forward in the British education system 

Another reason is that these tests are used by hundreds of schools, linking a network of prestigious schools from around the world together and ensuring a fair, standardised assessment for all candidates. In other words, everyone’s result can be easily compared to their peers’, without the worry of discrepancies between those who mark the papers. 

In turn, this has helped speed up the admissions process by decreasing pressure on admissions departments and reducing – sometimes even eliminating – the need for schools to set and mark their own additional entry assessments. 

There are benefits for the candidates taking these assessments too; while preparing for these tests, they learn valuable transferable skills which will help them going forward in the British education system, as well as beyond, to university and in their careers. By taking something like the UKiset, they can also apply to several schools at once, reducing time and stress. 

As a testament to the reliability and security of these assessment tools, they are becoming increasingly commonplace to aid admissions processes in more and more British and international schools across the world. For instance, Lucton School in Shanghai has made UKiset a prerequisite for entry, as well as over 150 others within the UK also using it as a means of entry assessment. 

In conclusion, as we go forward into the uncertain post-Covid future, there is sufficient reason why schools should be looking increasingly to transform their admissions into a more comprehensive online process, given that as well as being pandemic-friendly, the benefits are tenfold.

If you’d like more information on how UKiset could benefit your school and those who are applying, head to www.gabbitas.com/ukiset-schools

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