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Atom Assessments: parents' guide

By Atom | Sep 18, 2023, 2:05 PM

Child taking an Atom Assessments test on a laptop

Is your child applying to a selective independent school? They might take an Atom Assessment as part of the admissions process.

Launched by Atom Learning in 2019, Atom Assessments is redefining the way schools test candidates. More than 100 independent schools now trust Atom Assessments to administer their entrance exams. We put children at the heart of what we do by creating shorter, adaptive exams filled with enjoyable content. Through these assessments, admissions teams receive the quality data they need to make decisions and children have positive exam day experiences.

What is Atom Assessments?

Atom Assessments provide bespoke entry tests to schools. We work in partnership with schools to build assessments that are fair and accessible to children from all backgrounds. We know that entrance exams can put a lot of pressure on young children, so we create assessments that are enjoyable and accessible.

An Atom Assessment typically combines a mixture of traditional subjects like English, maths and reasoning with newer components to broaden the scope of what’s being assessed. These newer components test children’s analysis and synthesis skills. They also gauge whether children can engage with long-form problem-solving.

Many schools are switching from other exam providers to Atom Assessments because they want to make their admissions process more accessible and inclusive. Atom Assessments:

  • are shorter and less taxing on the child

  • test more widely than most entrance exams

  • prioritise lifelong learning – identifying readers and problem-solvers

Every assessment is unique and branded to the school. Your target school chooses the subjects and timings of the test to suit their values and admissions process. More information about your target school’s test will be available on the admissions section of the school website.

“We have been absolutely blown away by the quality of the data that Atom Assessments have given us, by the customer service, and the all-round experience offered to our applicants. It has been outstanding.”

Lord Wandsworth College

Lord Wandsworth College, Hampshire

Which schools use Atom Assessments?

Over 100 senior schools use Atom Assessments in their entrance process. Some of these schools are included in the list below.

  • Ardingly College

  • Ashford Senior School

  • Berkhamsted School*

  • Brighton Girls

  • Channing School

  • Chigwell School

  • City of London School

  • DLD College London

  • Dulwich College

  • Ellesmere College

  • Felsted School

  • Forest School

  • Francis Holland School (Regent’s Park)

  • Francis Holland School (Sloane Square)

  • Gateways School

  • Giggleswick

  • Godolphin & Latymer

  • Gordonstoun

  • Headington Senior School

  • Ibstock Place Senior School

  • King’s Ely

  • Knightsbridge School

  • Lomond School

  • Lord Wandsworth College

  • Mill Hill School Foundation

  • More House School

  • North Bridge House Senior Canonbury

  • North Bridge House Senior Hampstead

  • Northampton High School GDST

  • Northwood College for Girls

  • Norwich High School for Girls GDST

  • Notting Hill & Ealing High School

  • Oakham School

  • Oxford High School GDST

  • Queen’s College London

  • Queen’s Gate School

  • Reading Blue Coat School

  • Royal Russell School

  • Rugby School

  • Sherborne Girls

  • South Hampstead High School

  • St Augustine’s Priory

  • St Columba’s School

  • St Edmund’s School, Canterbury

  • St Helen’s School London

  • St James Senior Girls’ School

  • St Joseph’s College

  • St Margaret’s School

  • St Mary’s Calne

  • Taunton School

  • Trinity School

  • Uppingham School

  • Westminster School*

  • Wetherby Senior School

  • Woldingham School*

  • Wolverhampton Grammar School

  • Worth School

*Not at main entry

“The team who devised the new paper were amazing - quick, sensitive, clever, creative - and the service and support have been outstanding. We all agreed that Atom is far superior in values, approach and delivery.”

Lucy Elphinstone, The London 11+ Consortium

The London 11+ Consortium

What skills and content are tested?

Part 1

In Part 1 of an Atom Assessment, your child will be tested on their understanding of the content taught on the national curriculum, including maths and English comprehension. Some assessments will also include verbal and non-verbal reasoning. For more information about which subjects will be tested on your child’s exam, check your target school’s website.

This section of the test is adaptive, so the questions are tailored to your child's learning ability. If your child answers lots of questions correctly, they will begin to see more challenging questions. Adaptive testing meets children at their level. It helps them to stay motivated and prevents them from feeling discouraged from seeing questions that are too difficult.

The maths section covers the topics caught on the national curriculum. Children taking an Atom Assessment for 11+ entry will be tested on topics taught up to the end of Year 5.

Your child will be tested on arithmetic and number, geometry, measurement, and statistics. They will also have questions which assess mathematical reasoning and problem-solving. Your child will need to think carefully when answering these questions, as they’ll likely need to solve problems with several steps. They will have scrap paper and pencils to help them work through the problem.

Maths LC example question.png

Part 2

However, Atom Assessments aim to go beyond testing a narrow skillset. These tests also look at your child’s ability to:

  • Analyse source materials from unfamiliar contexts

  • Evaluate and synthesise information

  • Use sustained thinking to solve multi-step problems

  • Apply logic to solve problems

Part 2 of an Atom Assessment measures these skills through two unique components: puzzles and problem-solving and creative comprehension. These are very different to exams provided by other test providers and create a more enjoyable testing experience.

This section is not adaptive. All children will see the same questions regardless of their performance, although some might progress further through the questions than others.

Your target school will choose whether to incorporate Part 2 in the exam.

This section assesses your child’s ability to reason with information and solve problems using interactive puzzles. They will need to show sustained thinking, and use trial and error, to work through the puzzle.

Puzzles and problem-solving LC example question

Try some Atom Assessments questions

This exercise is designed to introduce your child to the format and style of Atom Assessment questions. Answers and explanations for the questions in this exercise are available here.

Let's go!
Atom Assessments

How are the assessments marked?

Atom Assessments are taken online and consist of multiple choice questions. Your child’s test will be automatically marked by computer, reducing any potential for human error.

Some schools choose to include an optional creative writing task. If your target school sets this task, it will be marked by examiners.

Your target school will receive detailed data on your child’s performance in each subject and subtopic, and a summary report – showing standardised age scores and rankings.

How your child’s assessment results are then used is at the discretion of your target school. Most schools use these results alongside other criteria. This might include a handwritten test, an interview, a school report, and a reference from your child’s current headteacher. These different sources help to build a picture of the whole child, so that the admissions team can work out if they’ll thrive at the school.

More information about the factors taken into account when making offers will be available on the admissions section of the school website.

School guides

Looking for more information? Explore the Atom blog to find out about the admissions process for your target school and learn how to prepare for entrance exams.

Read more

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