What is a Kindergarten Entrance Test and How is it Used?

Many parents have questions about Kindergarten Assessment Tests or Kindergarten Entrance Tests. What do they look like? What should my child know before starting Kindergarten? Who administers these tests? Are they only for students entering public school? Are they mandatory?

As an education specialist, I have been involved with the process for several years. Kindergarten entrance requirements vary from state to state  and among the private and public sector of education.

However, the use of some kind of screening test is pretty common whether it’s a traditional public school or a private school kindergarten assessment. These tests are used to measure a child’s literacy development and Kindergarten readiness.

The names for state Kindergarten tests are different depending on what your local board of education or private school board has chosen to use. 

The kindergarten screening test for our state is the “Lollipop Test” and another common one is “DIBELS” or “Brigance K Screen.”   

A Kindergarten entrance exam and readiness activities can seem like a mystery to many parents. I hope to answer some questions you may have about Kindergarten Readiness Testing and the process through this article.

What is a Kindergarten Entrance Test? 

Testing for Kindergarten readiness typically takes 15-30 minutes.

It is usually given by a Kindergarten teacher to an individual student. 

Parents typically sit close by while their child takes the test.  

Sometimes children cry and, in those cases, you may be asked to sit with your child to help them calm down. 

If your child cries, don’t worry! It is very common and Kindergarten teachers are used to it! They are one of many… it does not mean they are going to have a hard time at school or that the teacher is making notes about your child.

It can feel a little scary to be sitting close to someone you’ve never met while they ask questions that may be a little difficult. 

Kindergarten Screening Questions

The actual kindergarten assessment questions are going to vary from state to state but academic readiness for Kindergarten involves mastering pre-k skills such as:

  • Recognition of letters
  • Names of colors 
  • Names of shapes
  • Counting 1-10
  • Basic understanding of phonics
  • Simple sight word recognition 
  • Ability to sort like objects 
  • Recognition of name
  • Knowledge of basic story parts 
  • Ability to use age appropriate describing words about people, places, things

The readiness test covers questions and tasks across the different areas of literacy development such as reading, writing, speaking, and mathematics.  


At this age, pre-Kindergarten students may have to identify capital and lowercase letters as part of the assessment. They may need to demonstrate a basic understanding of phonics. 


Your child may be given the task to write his or her name. They may also need to copy a letter, shape, or number.  


The teacher may ask your child a few questions about a picture and give them a score based on their response. They are probably looking for a few key words and details and will give them a score based on a 0-3 or 0-5 scale.  


For mathematics, a child may count to 10 or identify numbers on a chart. They may also ask questions about patterns or placing objects in order according to size.  

After the Kindergarten Screening Test 

Once the kindergarten test is complete, the teacher will probably let you know any areas that your child did really well and any tips for areas where they may need additional practice. 

There may not be an optimal time or place to discuss the results with you right after the test. 

In this case, you could always ask a school official about a good time to review the results. 

How should you help prepare your child for a Kindergarten Entrance Test? 

The truth is, there’s nothing you should do right before or after a Kindergarten Readiness Test. 

Instead, it should be a fun and exciting time for you and your child.  Too much talk or emphasis on a test can lead to anxiety and causing your child to be fearful of school.

If you want to work on pre-kindergarten skills in a fun way, I recommend the products or websites below:  

Preschool Prep DVD’s

PreK Prep DVDs

These are fun and simple characters to teach letter recognition and one of the best resources I’ve found for a low stress, fun way to learn early literacy skills.

We put them in the car on trips and our son didn’t really care that it wasn’t a familiar cartoon or movie. 


So much great interactive content here for early learning skills. It was free when we used it… hopefully it still is! 

Magnetic Letters

Simple and inexpensive, but so effective! Just letting your child play with magnetic letters on the fridge or on a cookie sheet is building their skills with letter recognition. You can spell out simple words or use them for quick, fun learning activities.  


I haven’t met a Kindergarten teacher yet who doesn’t recommend Ticonderoga pencils for small hands. You may want to have your child practice some simple copying or drawing with a pencil before the assessment just to build some confidence with holding a pencil.

On the day of our Kindergarten Entrance Test, I simply told my son that a teacher was going to show him some pictures of colors and shapes. I showed him where I would be waiting when he was finished.

I didn’t call it a test or even tell him that the teacher might ask him some questions. This little bit of information was enough to keep him calm and confident. 

I do think your child will be more at ease if they are wearing their regular day to day clothing and they have had a snack. 

If you were asked to bring paperwork as part of the process, make sure you have it ready in advance to try and minimize the wait time.

Literacy development is just one part of Kindergarten readiness.  

I wrote about the skills your child needs to be ready for Kindergarten and just a couple of them relate to literacy development. 

I believe some of the skills in that article are more critical to Kindergarten readiness than the ones measured in this single test.  

How is a Kindergarten Entrance Test used?  

Once the readiness tests have a score, they end up at your child’s school. They become part of their school file with other registration papers.   

The name “Kindergarten readiness” is misleading because it doesn’t mean that a child has to achieve a certain score to start Kindergarten. 

As long as kids meet the age requirements for their state’s entrance program, they can start Kindergarten. 

The scores from the readiness test identify kids who may need early intervention support.  These are support services that help children who enter Kindergarten without understanding pre-Kindergarten concepts and skills. 

In our state, the Lollipop provides a score between 0-69.  Students who score in the range of 0-35 may need additional support services.  However, it does not necessarily mean there is a learning problem.

I’ve known second language learners to have a low Lollipop score and qualify for gifted services by the end of their first school year. 

I’ve also known kids who had a perfect Lollipop test score but struggled with social and/or communication skills. 

It’s only one piece of data for teachers and school officials to use as a starting place for instructional services. They soon start collecting other information after working with your child. 

In fact, these readiness tests for Kindergarten are rarely used after the school year begins unless a post-test is given at the end of the year for comparison.  

I hope this was helpful to answering questions about Kindergarten Entrance tests. The process should be a simple part of the exciting time of getting ready to start Kindergarten!  

Feel free to leave any questions in the comments and thanks for sharing with other parents of soon to be Kindergarteners!  

You May Also Like