Prepare your child for all aspects of the interview
The school interview is an integral part of nearly every school's admission process in Hong Kong. It gives schools the opportunity to learn about the child beyond what is listed on paper. The skills assessed will differ between grades, while admission factors that matter most will vary from school to school depending on the priorities of each school.
Pre-Nursery / Kindergarten (PN / K1-K3)
Typically these are group interviews of 45 minutes – 1 hour, with parents sometimes accompanying the child at the session for through-train schools; the school may also request a chat with the parents. There will be some kind of play-based activity, similar to those undertaken in a pre-school or kindergarten setting and the assessing staff will engage the children with some basic questions.
Basic command of English in some schools
Communication, conversational, and social skills
Ability to follow instructions
How to stand out
Overall, the emphasis is on getting the child to talk and display their level of (English) comprehension.
A big factor seems to be confidence. Confident and vocal children seem to be more successful than shy, quiet children. Moreover, children that have obviously been prepped are not going to succeed either. So it’s a bit of a balancing act to get your quiet child to be vocal enough to be heard but not to seem rehearsed.
Exposing a child to a foreign language at an early age (as early as 1 years old) will result in much easier and better fluency than if they learn later in life.
Children's brains are developmentally ready to accept and learn a foreign language, and fluency comes fairly easily, rapidly, and without accent.
Interviews for students at this age are mainly comprised of simple questions about themselves:
What is your name?
How old are you?
Who do you live with?
Do you have brothers and sisters?
What is your favorite toy?
What do you like to do?
Basic life-skills such as identifying colors, shapes, and objects depicted on images
Primary School (Year 1-6 / Grade1-5)
A self-introduction is very important at this stage
Lower primary interviews require students to communicate more and to show ability to express themselves. Schools want students to ask more questions and show an inquisitive mindset. The school would like to know more about the student while having the student show communication and expressive skills in the process.
Verbal and written English language skills (Chinese language skills may be assessed, depending on the school and background of the child)
Comprehension, conversational and social skills
Overall suitability for the school
How to stand out
The child needs to have the ability to speak with someone new because there will be possibility of 1 on 1 interviews at this stage. It is imperative to encourage your child to have an inquisitive mind, (i.e. ask some questions) it will increase the ability for your child to learn and International Schools want this from a child.
Manners are important. A well-mannered child who is able to greet properly and say farewell properly is going to be much more impressive than a child who says nothing.
Building a reading habit is the best way to help a child improve in English and create interest in English.
For younger primary students, interviews will most likely being group settings. For older primary students, interviews should be one-on-one but some schools may offer them in groups to save time.
Interview questions for students at this level requires a good level of English:
Why does your child want enter the said school?
What about the current school that the student likes?
What is the student's favorite subject and why?
What is the most favorite(recent) book of the student?
Give a brief description about your family and there might be some questions as well.
Depending on the school, students applying for upper primary or higher level are likely to be required to take a written assessment test. The written test will measure prospective students’ English level in relation to other international school students at the same level.
Standardized Assessment Test
For students entering between grade 5 - 12, some schools employ standardize testing to assess students' achievement skills. For example, Hong Kong International School uses ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam) for pre-entry testing.
The ISEE is made up of five parts: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, reading comprehension, mathematics achievement, and an essay.
ISEE Lower Level Test (Grades 4-5)
Secondary School (Year 7-13 / Grade 6-12)
Formal written and oral assessment
During this stage, there will be a formal test, usually around 3 hours, to determine the student's writing and reading comprehension ability. Depending on the school, there might be multiple subjects that will be tested. For example, the admission exam at Singapore International School is comprised of both written and oral assessments in English Language and Chinese Language (Putonghua) as well as a written test in Mathematics.
The importance of test score
Some schools only use these test scores and previous school reports to determine whether the student should be accepted while other schools include interviews, and group-work.
Preparing for assessment
When preparing for these tests, students should ensure that all subjects are afforded attention, but should divide that attention proportionally according to their own strengths and weaknesses. Structure your child’s preparation so that subject learning decreases and revision increases as the day approaches.
We understand how schools evaluate students and are knowledgeable about the standards students need to reach to be accepted by specific schools.
Our training can transform the chances of success for all students so that they are well equipped to thrive on the assessment day.
Improving social etiquette for interview success
After R was rejected by several international schools in the summer of 2017, R’s parents came to us in November, hoping to improve their child’s chances of securing a place for international secondary school.
Upon meeting R, we learned that R had been diagnosed as autistic when he was in kindergarten and had history of being kicked out of school for disruptive behaviors.
With the understanding that R spoke a good level of verbal English, improving R’s behavioral issues and social skills would be critical in getting him over the hurdle.
Because R’s parents came to us in November, there was very little time left to prepare R as the end of school interview period was fast approaching, so we arranged for R to have intensive training done over the next 2 months.
By pinpointing the key problems in his challenging behavior, we were able to focus on helping him understand the importance of social etiquette through empathy training. We also coached R heavily on self-introduction, knowing that the school he was applying to value that part deeply.
R successfully passed his interview for a top American curriculum international school in Kowloon Tong in Spring and was enrolled in Fall’18 for 7th grade.