What are entrance exams and what should I know?
Historically, most independent schools have been selective and, to gain entry, students have had to pass an entrance exam of some description. Students attending independent prep schools were also required to pass the Common Entrance exam at 11+ or 13+ and obtain a good character reference from the Headteacher of their Prep school.
More recently, there has been a shift from the sole reliance on the Common Entrance exam (which is over 100 years old) to the introduction of the ISEB Common Pre-Test taken in Year 6 or Year 7. The ISEB Pre-test exam is used by a growing number of schools and most of the larger independent schools in Sussex use the results to select students. The introduction of this test has seen a larger increase of students migrating to senior schools in Year 7 rather than Year 9.
Why do schools use this test?
Schools that have signed up to use this examination system can access students’ results even if the student has taken the exam in a different location or at a different time. This means that schools have quick access to results rather than relying on students coming into the school to sit the exam.
There is a huge benefit to students in so much as they only need to sit one entrance exam rather than many exams in different (often intimidating) environments.
What is included in an entrance exam?
Most schools will test students in Maths, English, and/or Verbal Reasoning and/or Non-Verbal Reasoning. In addition, most will have an interview with the Headteacher and will be required to engage in conversation about themselves or topics that the Headteacher has selected.
Some schools also invite all applicants into school so that they can observe social interactions and problem-solving skills and will make observations to see if a student might flourish in their school.
What is involved in the ISEB Pre-test?
The ISEB Pre-test comprises of 4, computerized tests: Maths, English, Verbal reasoning, and Non-Verbal Reasoning.
The tests are:
- Take 2.5 hours to complete
- Aligned to the Year 6 National Curriculum
- Sections can be completed at a different time
- Results are standardized (age comparative)
- Made by GL assessments
- Senior schools register entry
- Prep schools, Senior schools (if in a state school) or test center’s administer the test
How can I prepare my child for an entrance exam?
School places are becoming increasingly competitive with schools like Hurstpierpoint College and Brighton College being incredibly popular. Being prepared here is crucial. Employing the services of a 1:1 entrance exam tutor to explicitly teach the required skills and being familiar with pre-test interfaces are important parts of preparation.
Give your child ample time to become familiar with the various test types and questions. Many parents traditionally use Bonds books, which is a fair way to begin at home, but with the introduction of computerized testing, these are becoming quickly outdated.
To give your child the best possible chance, you’ll need to employ the services of a 1:1 private tutor who can note gaps, teach key skills and familiarise students with the test questions.
Here, at Elite Tutors Sussex, we can introduce you to experienced teachers and tutors who are familiar with the test types, questions styles, and the requisite skills involved in tackling the test.
1:1 Tutoring for entrance exams
Whilst we don’t believe in over-coaching students into a school that isn’t right for them, we do suggest that 18 months to a year of weekly 1:1 tutoring should afford a child the skills required to complete the exam, feeling prepared and able to do their best.
If your child is behind academically then the sooner, they work with a primary tutor the better as this will develop their skills and confidence in the classroom as well as ensure they are well-positioned for academic testing.
An experienced pre-test entrance exam tutor will be looking for ways to boost English and Maths skills whilst introducing the skills involved in VR and NVR tests. Some tutors will also offer interview practice in addition to the 4 test components and the tutors that we introduce you to will also offer a subscription to an ISEB Pre-test platform such as BOFA 11+
Local Schools using the ISEB Pre-test at the time of writing:
- Brighton College
- Hurstpierpoint College
- Seaford College
- Ardingly College
- Lancing College
- Tonbridge School
- Worth School
If you’d like to talk about finding an entrance exam tutor, or if you need information on schools in the area, then please get in touch with us today. We’d be happy to guide you through this process.
Company Director and Education Consultant