The KES exam is really not as much of a mystery as the CEM exams.
Once registered (for a fee of £25
) you will receive a sheet (on rather nice cream paper
) with a breakdown of what will be tested. Previously this paper had suggested using NFER standard practice papers for the VR, Maths etc.
As has been pointed out, the KES examination tests Mathematics (some of the later questions are very challenging), English comprehension, English writing (usually one essay topic is given) and traditional Verbal reasoning.
Boys stay for the full day and there are sporting activities to break up the exam timetable.
At KEHS, the girls attend for two full days.
I have known children who have not made KES but have made Five Ways and I've also known children who have made KES but did not make KE Aston.
Every year we have the same discussions as to which school is better; all the King Edward schools are excellent in my opinion and I would be happy with any of them for my children. All are highly selective and have high standards.
In terms of percentage chance of getting in, obviously KECH Boys would be more difficult because there are statistically more boys competing for fewer places - being free, it is therefore accessible to more families.
My boys went to KECH because with a large family, and the possibility that any younger siblings may need a full-fees place somewhere, we could not take on any fees commitment, even on AP, so we never really had to think about the 'dilemma'.
I believe KES significantly over-offer, as many who take the exam cannot, to be fair, afford fees, and have taken it in the hope of an AP or scholarship. If this is not forthcoming, they will usually be unable to attend and will often eschew the place in favour of a Grammar or comprehensive .
It will be interesting to see if there are fewer applications this year, as once families find out their child has achieved a high enough score for a Grammar, they may decide not to go ahead with the Indie exams.
My own boys took the KES exam 'blind'; i.e. we had no idea how they had done in the Grammar school exams, yet had I known then that they'd made CH I wouldn't have put them through it.
Much is made of KES' scholarships and APs but it is reasonable to say (since so many think they're going to get one) that they are very limited. There are no 100% scholarships, but combined with an AP if you're on a very low income, this could turn out as a free place.
If you're earning a 'middle class' wage, the APs on offer still require you to pay the majority of the fees, regardless of other dependants and commitments. A breakdown of assisted place levels is available on the KES website.