We apply a holistic selection process that considers the candidates academics, background, leadership skills, among other criteria. The approach is holistic, like that of top American universities, but it starts with the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE), Kenya’s national high school leaving exam. As soon as the exam results come out, KenSAP starts receiving queries from students who have met the program’s baseline requirement – a “mean grade” of “A plain,” the highest possible mark on the exam, achieved by about ½ of 1% of the more than 500,000 test takers. From hundreds of qualified applicants each year, KenSAP selects a between twelve and twenty students.
To broaden the program’s reach, a radio announcement solicits queries from any new high school graduates who have scored A plain. Any student who shows evidence of having met the requirement is sent a detailed application form that includes several essays. On the basis of the application and the KCSE result, KenSAP’s selection panel chooses a short-list of 60 candidates, who are invited to the program’s tryout, which consists of an interview, a diagnostic test and a 1500-meter run.