UK Independent Schools’ Entry Test (UKiset)

Athena Tuition can support candidates with the UKiset, just email us at, call us on 0208 133 6284, or have a read below for more information about the test.

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UKiset is an online assessment that is part of the selection process for international students who wish to gain entry to leading UK independent schools. It can be taken at an authorised test centre in the student’s own country, at a UK test centre, or at selected schools.


Used by over 180 British schools, UKiset evaluates students’ abilities to understand the British curriculum, as well as assessing students’ skills in terms of language, mathematics and problem solving. It also measures potential / aptitude for learning.




UKiset consists of three sections:



Section One: Reasoning


In this section, the candidate’s quantitative reasoning, non-verbal reasoning and verbal reasoning skills are assessed. The resultant score is standardised according to the candidate’s age and relative to the level of British students in the same year group.

In order to ensure that candidates, for whom English is not their first language, are not at a disadvantage, UKiset provides two averages: one overall average and one excluding the verbal score. This enables schools to compare students’ potentials on a level playing field, English language competency aside. This part of the ­assessment also provides predictive analysis regarding what the candidate might go on to achieve at GCSE and beyond.


The UKiset Reasoning section takes approximately 2.5 hours to complete. For year 12 entries (16+), this may be longer. UKiset measures five principal areas:

  1. Non-Verbal Reasoning – diagram-based problem solving.
  2. Spatial Ability – evaluates one’s ability to mentally manipulate shapes in two and three dimensions.
  3. Verbal Reasoning – word-based problem solving.
  4. Quantitative – applying mathematical concepts and skills in solving real-world problems.

All questions have five answers to choose from, which are labelled A to E.



Section Two: The Cambridge English Placement Test (CEPT)


A multiple-choice section that measures a candidate’s English reading and listening standard. It helps schools evaluate to what extent candidates will be able to cope with the UK curriculum.


Reading Tasks

Read and select – Candidates will be tasked to read a notice, diagram, label, memo or letter containing a short text. They must choose the sentence or phrase that most closely matches the meaning of the text.

Gapped sentences – Candidates will be tasked with choosing the correct word or phrase to fill the gap in a sentence. These can be presented as multiple-choice questions or questions requiring written answers without a choice.

Extended reading – Candidates read a longer text and answer a series of multiple-choice questions. Questions are in the same order as the information is presented in the text.

Listening Tasks

Listen and select – Candidates will be tasked to listen to a short audio recording and answer a multiple-choice question.

Extended listening – Candidates are played a longer audio recording and answer a series of multiple-choice questions based on it. The questions are in the same order as the information they hear in the recording.



Section Three: English Essay


An expressive writing test. Candidates will be given a topic on the day of the test. ­The script will be sent to the school to be marked. This is an opportunity for candidates to demonstrate their ability to construct arguments, express their opinions and communicate in written English

Candidates will be given 30 minutes for the creative writing and will be provided with a timer.

Known as a piece of ‘expressive writing on an expository topic’, ‘expressive writing’, in this context, means personal writing which expresses and explores the feelings of the writer, while ‘expository’ means writing about something in a structured and reasoned manner. It requires a candidate to demonstrate their command of written English (phraseology, spelling, grammar, idiom, vocabulary, register and structure). Therefore, candidates need to address the topic in a logical way which includes providing opinion supported by relevant argument. The topic given will be age-appropriate and will evaluate the candidate’s opinion, viewpoint or feelings about something.


Criteria for marking:

Structure – marks will be awarded for a start, middle and end; logical argument; and clear paragraphing.

Content – appropriate vocabulary, register, idiomatic expression and the correct tone.

Accuracy – spelling, grammar and punctuation. Up to a third of marks could be deducted for material errors.


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