Perfecting the admissions process for international students

Sponsored: UKiset discuss upgrading English language tests for schools

More than 13,000 international students will start in British independent schools this September. Essential to their success at their new school is their English language ability. Leading schools have been using UKiset to assess international applicants to British schools for the last four years. The UKiset model consists of a standardised reasoning test and a comprehensive English test in reading, listening and writing. This month, UKiset is upgrading their English assessment in association with their partners at Cambridge Assessment.

The new test will roll-out in certain locations throughout May and will be available worldwide by 1st June. The upgrade will be complete in time for early-bird applications for places in September 2019. “We have been looking forward to these improvements for some time, and we are delighted to be able to roll it out before the busy season takes off for sought-after places in 2019,” said Alastair Montgomery, Director of UKiset.

The English assessment will continue to provide schools with an overall language score on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) from A1 to C1 or above. However, the new test provides two further pieces of valuable information. Firstly, a score on the Cambridge English scale – allowing schools to see exactly how the ability compares to other assessments such as IELTS and how close the candidate is to the next CEFR level. Secondly, the results isolate reading ability and listening ability, providing a separate CEFR level and scaled score for each skill. This extra level of accuracy is achieved using a computer-based online test that is only 15 minutes longer than the previous UKiset English test.

The results reports will look slightly different. The new English section will include separate scores for reading and listening, plus an overall average. It will include a copy of the Cambridge English scale and equivalent competencies in other tests.

“Admissions teams have new and improved ways of identifying the most suitable international students for their schools and colleges, using sophisticated measures.”

“Schools using UKiset will have a much better idea of an applicant’s English level and more information to share with their English language support teams from the outset. The new scaled scores will help differentiate those higher-level candidates, providing further insight into the candidate’s readiness to study in the UK,” added Alastair.

UKiset is working closely with the admissions testing team at Cambridge Assessment to help schools identify the most suitable students. With an increasing number of international students using British schools as a gateway to the top universities, Cambridge Assessment and UKiset are looking for schools willing to trial the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) at 16+ entry. TSA was developed for a number of top university courses at Cambridge and Oxford to assess critical thinking skills essential to studying at the highest level. It is a great opportunity for schools to measure these skills and identify these potential applicants.

“TSA assesses the higher-order skills of critical thinking and problem solving, widely recognised as important 20th-century skills and shown to be good predictors of success in a range of academic disciplines. It allows applicants from a wide range of educational backgrounds to demonstrate their potential, regardless of prior knowledge, and provides a common benchmark of the core skills required to thrive academically, both in Years 12 and 13 and in higher education beyond,” said Paul Crump, Assessment Group Manager at Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing.

UKiset and TSA are looking ever-increasingly at the underlying skills that determine a student’s academic success. Admissions teams have new and improved ways of identifying the most suitable international students for their schools and colleges, using sophisticated measures. Using the right assessment to ensure a student can enter the British education system and hit the ground running is an essential part of the job.

If you are interested in learning more about these tests and this collaboration, email or visit

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