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Harrow School: a parents’ guide to Year 9 entry

School guides
Harrow School: a parents’ guide to Year 9 entry

Harrow School is an independent boarding school for boys aged 13–18. It was founded in 1572 by local landowner and farmer John Lyon under a royal charter from Queen Elizabeth I. Harrow School’s influence and history have made it one of the most well-known and prestigious schools in the world.

Harrow School is located on a 324-acre estate in North London, only 20 minutes from the centre of the capital by fast train. All boys board full-time and belong to one of 12 boarding houses – each with a unique character and its own facilities and gardens. Experienced and well-supported house teams provide ongoing pastoral support, with members of staff including house masters and matrons, a pastoral support committee, an on-site GP surgery, psychologist and counsellor and the chaplaincy.

Boys at Harrow School routinely progress to the top global universities. In 2021, Harrovians (former pupils) started degrees at six of the world’s top ten universities, with 27 boys taking up places at prestigious North American universities including Harvard, Yale and Brown. The school has an extensive list of distinguished alumni, including former prime ministers of the UK and India, members of parliament and various royal families, Nobel Prize winners and prominent figures in the arts and science.

There are two main entry points at Harrow School: Year 9 (known as ‘Shell’) and Year 12 (Lower Sixth). As the school is for ages 13–18, there is no Year 7 entry.

Key information for Harrow School

  • Head Master: Alastair Land

  • Address: Harrow School, 5 High Street, Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex, HA1 3HP

  • London Borough: Harrow

  • Admissions contact: Dr Eric Sie – [email protected], 020 8872 8007

  • Age range and gender: 13–18, boys only

  • Number of pupils: 835

  • Number of places in Year 9: 160

  • Ratio of applicants to places: 4:1

  • Open day date: Saturday 15th October, 5th November and 3rd December 2022. Book online.

  • Overview of selection procedure for Year 9 entry in 2025: School reference, ISEB Common Pre-test, school’s own test and interviews.

  • Registration opens: Currently open – apply online

  • Registration closes: 1st May 2023

  • Assessment date for Year 9 entry in 2025: 1st October 2022 – 1st June 2023 (ISEB Common Pre-test), September/October 2023 (Harrow Test)

  • Scholarship assessment date: January 2023

Harrow School fees and financial assistance

The current fees for Harrow School are £14,550 per term. This includes full boarding, tuition, textbooks, a stationery allowance and laundry. Applicants who offer and accept a place at Harrow School will need to pay an entry deposit of £3,000 (or £15,000 for overseas applicants).

Many boys at Harrow benefit from the school’s bursary provision, with bursary awards funding up to 100% of fees from Years 9 to 13 plus the option of Year 7 and/or Year 8 at a prep school. The following bursaries are available to UK applicants:

  • John Lyons Charity Bursaries: for boys who require substantial financial support; have been resident in Barnet, Brent, Camden, the City of London, Ealing, Harrow, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, or Westminster for more than two years; and are at least Key Stage 2 achieving a minimum score of 110 (if they are in a state primary school) or expected to achieve at least 70% as an average pass mark at Common Entrance (if they are at a prep school).

  • Peter Beckwith Scholarships: for boys who require substantial financial support; show significant potential in sport, music, drama or some other creative activity; and are of a standard that might ultimately lead to Oxbridge admission.

  • Churchill Places: require substantial financial support; demonstrate the characteristics of personal courage, wide-ranging thinking and a global outlook and who may one day change the world for the better; and are at least Key Stage 2 achieving a minimum score of 110 (if they are in a state primary school) or expected to achieve at least 70% as an average pass mark at Common Entrance (if they are at a prep school).

  • The HJ Flower and H Gower Award: for very strong candidates who are the sons of serving members of the British armed forces.

  • The Derek Kelsey and Richard Lister-Buttle Awards: for very strong candidates who are the sons of Old Harrovians (former pupils).

Harrow School also offers scholarships for Year 9 entry. All scholarships are worth up to 5% of the school fees and can be supplemented with a means-tested bursary to cover up to 100% of the fees. The available scholarships are Academic, Music, Art, Drama and Sport.

Harrow School term dates

The term dates at Harrow School for 2023–24 are:

  • Autumn term: 5th September – 9th December 2023 (exeats 29th September – 1st October and 17th–19th November)

  • Half term: 20th October – 1st November 2023

  • Spring term: 9th January – 23rd March 2024 (exeats 26th–28th January and 1st–3rd March 2024)

  • Half term: 9th–18th February 2024

  • Summer term: 15th April – 29th June 2024 (exeat 3rd–5th May 2024)

  • Half term: 25th May – 2nd June 2024

Admissions process for Year 9 entry to Harrow School

If you would like to register your son for Year 9 entry to Harrow School in 2025, you will need to complete the online application form ideally before the end of the summer term 2022 (while your son is in Year 5) – or at the very latest, by 1st May of 2023 (when your son is in Year 6). You will need to pay a non-refundable registration fee of £350 before you submit the application form.

Harrow School will request a confidential reference from your son’s current school at the end of Year 5 (or immediately if you register your son after this point).

All applicants will be invited to take the ISEB Common Pre-Test between the 1st of October and the end of the autumn term in Year 6. The strongest applicants are then invited to meet House Masters during Year 6, and all shortlisted applicants following the ISEB Common Pre-Test are invited to sit the Harrow Test, and be interviewed by a House Master, in Year 7.

Having completed the Harrow Test, applicants will receive one of the following results in the first week of December of Year 7 (2023 for entry in 2025):

  • A1 List: the offer of a place at Harrow School in a specific house

  • A2 List: the offer of a place at Harrow School with a house to be confirmed at a later date

  • B List: the offer of a place on Harrow School’s waiting list

  • C List: no offer

Offers are subject to satisfactory performance in either the Common Entrance (CE) or Academic Scholarship exams:

  • Common Entrance: applicants who have been offered a place at Harrow School will sit the CE exam, which consists of four subjects, in June of Year 8 (June 2025).

  • Academic Scholarship: applicants who have been offered a place at Harrow School and are applying for an Academic Scholarship will take the Academic Scholarship exams at Harrow School in February of Year 8 (February 2025). Boys who perform well in these are unlikely to be required to sit the Common Entrance.

Harrow School entrance exam format

There are three separate exam stages for Year 9 entry to Harrow School:

  1. ISEB Common Pre-Test: taken by all candidates

  2. Harrow Test: taken by shortlisted candidates 3: Common Entrance: taken by candidates who have been offered a place (and who are not applying for an Academic Scholarship). The results are used to determine the initial sets the boy will be placed into when he starts Year 9.

ISEB Common Pre-Test

The ISEB Common Pre-Test is a standardised online test which measures a pupil’s ability and attainment. It takes two and a half hours to complete and can be taken any time in Year 6, but ideally between the 1st of October and the end of the autumn term.

All questions are multiple-choice and adaptive, meaning that the questions become more difficult depending on how your child is performing. There are four subjects assessed:

  • English: questions assess comprehension, spelling, punctuation and grammar

  • Maths: questions assess the child’s understanding of number, measurement, data, algebra and geometry taught up to the end of Year 5

  • Verbal reasoning: questions test the child’s logic and problem-solving skills

  • Non-verbal reasoning: questions test the child’s ability to understand and analyse visual information

Take a look at our complete guide to the ISEB Common Pre-test to help your son prepare for the first stage of the entrance process for Harrow School.

ISEB Common Pre-test: find out everything you need to know

Harrow Test

Boys who are successful in the ISEB Common Pre-Test will be invited to sit the Harrow Test in autumn 2023 (Year 7). This consists of the following elements:

  • 15-minute interview with a House Master

  • 15-minute interview with a Senior Beak (senior teacher)

  • One-hour online exam in English and maths

  • 20-minute written essay

Common Entrance

Boys who have been offered a place at Harrow School will take the final stage of the process – the Common Entrance exam – in June 2025. There is no formal pass mark, but the results are used to determine which sets the boy will be placed into in Year 9. Boys who have applied for an Academic Scholarship, and have performed well in the Academic Scholarship exam, will not take the Common Entrance exam.

The exam covers the following subjects:

  • Maths (Level 2 or Level 3 papers)

  • Latin (Level 2 or Level 3 papers)

  • English (Level 2 paper)

  • Science (Level 2 paper)

  • French or a different language (Level 2 paper)

The Common Entrance exam papers are weighted to reward those who attempt the more challenging papers (Level 3). Boys who have not followed the Common Entrance syllabus in Years 7 and 8 will only need to take a limited range of papers in the core subjects (i.e. English, Maths, Science) and applicants do not need to have studied French or Latin previously.

How to help your child prepare for the selection process at Harrow School

Build foundational knowledge

The entrance process for Harrow School covers a lot of ground, with testing across the Key Stage 2 core curriculum and beyond.

Ensure your son masters the content of the national curriculum with Atom Nucleus. Your child will have access to over 90,000 teacher-created questions that cover Key Stage 2 English, maths and science, as well as verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning.

Verbal reasoning learning journey on Atom Nucleus

Preparation is key

Familiarisation with the question formats and known styles ahead of the exam – particularly for verbal and non-verbal reasoning, which are not taught in school – is absolutely essential.

Access to quality, unlimited practice material ensures that your child will feel confident when tackling the test. Atom gives your child access to unlimited mock tests that mirror the content, format and structure of both the ISEB Common Pre-Test and the Harrow Test:

Atom Learning has adaptive mock tests available

Harrow School maths mock test on Atom Nucleus

Access to immediate support

When working through challenging topics, your son will need immediate clarity with any misconceptions so that he feels truly secure in every topic and builds exam confidence.

Atom gives your child access to video tutorials, help sheets and examples for each question to help build confidence and competence across all areas of the Key Stage 2 core national curriculum.

Maths learning journey on Atom Nucleus

Engage with their progress

Celebrate your child’s improvement in areas of challenge together. An accurate and ongoing assessment of his areas of strength and development is helpful.

As an Atom subscriber, you’ll have a parent dashboard which offers data-driven insights into your child’s progress. You can use this effectively to help your child set targets, see a detailed breakdown of their progress by subtopic and set custom practices to target those they find most challenging.

Parent Portal.gif

Hold mock interviews with your child

If your son is successful in the ISEB Common Pre-Test, he will have two 15-minute interviews as part of the Harrow Test.

For many children, this will be a new experience so it’s useful to run through some practice questions ahead of time. We’ve included some pointers below to get you started.

  • Why would you like to come to Harrow?

  • What do you like to do outside of school?

  • What book have you read which you think everyone should read?

  • Why is it important to keep up with the news?

  • Why do you think you would be a good addition to Harrow?

  • What subject do you find most interesting and why?


Get started with Atom Learning

It’s our mission to help your child feel prepared and confident before the Harrow admissions procedure begins. Begin your free 5-day free trial of Nucleus today to help your child succeed.

5 day free trial for 11 plus

We know how crucial this time is, so our team is on hand to support you and your family every step of the way. You can book a call with one of our Education Experts to ask any questions you might have about 13 plus entry to Harrow School:

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If you’re looking for exclusive tips and resources to help your child master key subjects, excel in exams and build academic confidence, join Atom’s email list:

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