School Entry Overview

11+ Examinations

Students have been examined at 11+ in the UK for many years, in both the state and independent education systems, usually as an entrance exam. Recently, even independent schools that start in Year 9 (the academic year in which the student turns 14) have started using 11+ ‘pre-testing’ to determine which students should be allocated places in an increasingly competitive market.

It is not an entrance exam per se, as most students will still have to take the traditional 13+ Common Entrance exams. However, for many schools it is now one of the most important parts of the selection process. Some use the ISEB Common Pre-test; others commission or write their own tests.

The ISEB Common Pre-test

Commissioned by the Independent Schools Examinations Board, this is currently the most common pre-test used by independent schools. It has been created by GL Assessment as a fair and age-standardised measure of ability.

  • Tests include: English, maths, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning.
  • Taken on the computer at the student’s current school or senior school for which they have applied.
  • Multiple-choice questions with adaptive learning, meaning the questions given will change depending on how easy or difficult you find it.
  • Taken in Year 6 (the academic year in which the student turns 11) or occasionally in Year 7 (the academic year in which the student turns 12).

13+ Common Entrance

This is the standard exam taken for entry into independent senior schools in Year 9 and is taken in addition to the Pre-Test. It is taken once and the results are shared with all schools to which the student has applied.

  • Written papers, usually taken at current school in the summer of Year 8.
  • Compulsory Subjects – English, Maths, Sciences.
  • Expected subjects – Geography, History, Religious Studies + language.
  • Optional subjects – French, Spanish, German, Latin and Classical Greek.
  • ISEB publishes its own syllabus but generally follows the KS3 syllabus.

13+ Academic Scholarship

These exams are taken by students of high academic ability, who wish to gain a scholarship for their chosen school. There is an ISEB Common Academic Scholarship, but most independent schools create their own specific scholarship examinations, which are sat at each individual school.