How innovation in admissions assessment globally will help students succeed

Published 26/02/2021

The story begins with a Chinese student nicknamed Sky who arrived in Australia to study high school preparation to then go on to a prestigious conservative high school in Sydney.

In her Skype interview, Sky was rehearsed but gave thorough answers. Her transcripts were excellent, and her letters of recommendation were stellar. But Sky was not what she appeared to be on paper.

Sky was artistic and creative with a flair for fashion. Sky was not verbal and her English and math skills were not well-represented on her transcripts. Sky was not the student her paperwork indicated she would be. The school was not prepared to support her how she needed to be supported and, ultimately, she struggled and ended up going home.

Innovation was required. The IDAT was created by teachers so that schools and administrators could view a complete profile of potential students.

The IDAT is Truly Global

The problem is not a local problem. It is not restricted to those on student visas and it is not just about acceptance or rejection of students. The problem is global, so the IDAT is global.

“Through this character test, schools can learn about what a student prioritises, how the student prefers to learn”

The global IDAT curriculum was created by Dr Amelia Davis of Louisiana State University, by completing a comprehensive cross-mapping of US Common Core, the UK National, the Australian and Ontario Curricula.

According to Dr Davis, “Surprisingly, all four standards were quite similar for English, despite different approaches and ways of expressing outcomes”.


The test needed to be more than just English & Mathematics and it needed to be for all ages.

School students are not like university applicants. Their personal well-being and pastoral care are equally important to academics in the eyes of schools.

Students need to be supported and cared for to meet their potential as they form into the adults they can become.

The IDAT contains a self-assessment of character attributes created with input and advice from a educational psychologist. Through this character test, schools can learn about what a student prioritises, how the student prefers to learn, adaptivity skills and what his/her appetite is for risk-taking and collaborative learning.

There is a global knowledge component, to see what study skills a student has and to assess their logical reasoning.

But most telling, the students participate in an interview conducted by a state-of-the-art avatar. Students are asked to engage on a higher level and explain more about themselves, their way of thinking, motivation and opinions. This interview is available for the schools to truly get- to-know the student who is applying to their school.


In a year where everything has moved online, the IDAT led the way. The IDAT is taken online but in a fully proctored and secure environment. This is combined with facial recognition software to ensure the student who sits at the computer stays there and matches their photo ID exactly. It is available throughout the globe as IDAT organises professional proctoring at universities and schools everywhere.

In answer to Covid-19, the IDAT Secure 360 was created. By using a smartphone as the rear camera and the laptop camera as primary, IDAT has created a 360 view of the test computer for the proctor to view externally. It is an ingenious and necessary solution to continue with the admissions process even in the harshest of lockdowns.

Helping Each Student Achieve

Overall, the IDAT is changing the way admissions teams and teachers work with beginning students of all ages. No longer does it take three months to devise learning plans and know how to guide students to success. No longer does the student arrive with different aptitudes and abilities than indicated from prior school report. IDAT is helping the right schools find the right students over four continents so that from the their first day, students are ready to achieve and succeed.

About the author:

Heidi Reid is Academic Director and Creator of the International Diagnostic & Admissions Test. Heidi has a Masters of TESOL, Grad Dip Ed (Primary), MBA (Human Resource Management). Educated in Canada and Australia, Heidi has worked in international education for more than 20 years in Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, and Australia. She currently sits on the Advisory Council for NEAS (Quality Assurance for English Language Schools) and was previously on their Board of Directors. Heidi is active in the International Education Association of Australia and is an advocate and spokesperson for English, Pathways, and international education.

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