Independent Schools' Entrance

Most Independent schools require applicants to sit an entrance test and also to have an interview. It is essential to gain a high score in the test. Usually children who have scored a high mark are invited for an interview. Interviewing cannot make up for low scores in the test.

Sometimes the test is written by the school or the school may use a standard test set by the Independent Schools Examination Board (ISEB), called the Common Entrance Exam.
the test is marked by the school and the pass mark is also set by the school. The more competitive the school, the higher the pass mark.

The entrance test can be taken at ages 11+ or 13+. Most tests are taken 6-9 months before entry.

If your child already attends a private junior school (Preparatory School), then the school would have already been giving your child coaching for the exam. However if your child attends a state school; then it would be prudent to prepare your child.

There are a small number of ‘Elite’ schools for which you have to apply many years in advance and sit a test a year or two before entry. These include Eton, Harrow, St Paul’s, Westminster, Winchester and Wycombe Abbey.

There are a few non-selective schools which accept applications on the basis of previous years reports and a school reference.

Whats In The Test?

If the test is written by the school, then they are likely to include Verbal Reasoning , Non-verbal Reasoning, Maths or English. Not all four subjects would necessarily be covered, it depends on the school. For most of the time the details can be found on the schools’ websites. Sometimes part of the test is just referred to as ‘a reasoning test’, which usually consists of verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning and mathematical reasoning. Or ‘quantitative reasoning’, which is the testing of problem solving questions using mathematical skills. Or ‘abstract reasoning’, which is the same as non-verbal reasoning.
What is verbal reasoning? This is the testing of problem solving skills using words and mathematical skills.
What is Non-verbal reasoning? This is the testing problem solving using visual reasoning in identifying relationships, differences and similarities between diagrams and shapes.
Maths usually covers KS2 National Curriculum, although some of the questions are more challenging, often covering more algebra. Children who attend a state primary school may not have covered some of the maths topics.
English often includes essay writing and sometimes a comprehension test.

If schools use the Common Entrance Exam, core subjects are Maths, English and Science. In addition applicants may also be required to take a paper from a variety of other subjects – French, German, Spanish, Geography, History, Religious Studies. Schools that have entry at 13+ may prefer to choose to use this kind of test.

How to Prepare?

Past Papers are often available from the school’s website. The materials used for the 11+ for grammar schools are suitable. See our page for Verbal Reasoning , “Non- verbal reasoning”, Maths and English.

The Interview- What to expect


Sample Papers
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