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Entrance Exams for British Schools

11 + Common Entrance

What are the 11 + Common Entrance exams?

The ’11 +’ or ‘eleven plus’ exams are assessments that are taken by children in Year 6, in order to gain entrance to academically selective secondary schools in the UK. These schools may either be grammar schools or independent schools, which are often over subscribed. 

Despite the name, in reality most students who take the exams will actually be 10 years old – but will be eleven when they enter into their secondary education. Some schools request prospective students to sit the exams before Christmas, while others usually have them in January or February of Year 6. 

With all Common Entrance applications, it is always best to try to plan in advance wherever possible – the more you can do this, the more preparation you can do. 

What topics are covered in the 11 + exams?

Frustratingly for parents and students alike, there is, as of yet, no standarised 11 + exam. There are, however, four areas which commonly make up an 11 + paper: 

  • Verbal reasoning
  • Non-verbal reasoning
  • Maths
  • English 

The exact makeup, length and passrate of each exam is very much dependent on the local authority the school is part of and the individual schools, which at the moment have some freedom to tailor their exams as they like, using these four disciplines.

11 +
Entrance Exams

How can you prepare for the 11 + exam?

  • READING: One of the best ways your child can prepare is by reading widely at home. Reading expands children’s vocabulary and exposes them to a wide range of vocabulary, puncutation and grammar stuctures, without them even realising it. 
  • GAMES: Learning at home should always involve an element of fun. Crosswords, wordsearches and other games such as scrabble can really help children develop their vocabulary and think in different ways. 
  • PAST PAPERS: Practising with past papers from schools’ previous entrance exams can be a very useful way to gain familiarity with the types of questions that are usually asked. However, they should also not be seen as a failsafe way of preparing – all papers are different and some change year on year. They can, however, be useful to assess a child’s strong and weak points and where to focus any extra support. 
  • TUTORING: Often, the most effective way to prepare for the 11 + exam is through an experienced and professional tutor – and this is where we can help. A professional tutuor can combine several different methods to help a student prepare for the exams, whether this be through a long term or short term preparation program. 

13 + Common Entrance

What are 13 + Common Entrance exams?

The 13 + Common Entrance exam is used by a variety of leading secondary schools in the UK, allowing student to gain access to academically selective independent senior schools in Year 9. 

The number of places available depends on each individual school, but many independent senior schools leave numerous places open to pupils taking the 13 + because of the prep school system. 

The exams are always sat the year prior to entry in respective senior schools. As with so many things linked to Common Entrance, when exactly this may be depends on each individual school. These dates are usually in November, January or the first week of June in Year 8, though there may be individual exceptions to these rules.

Wherever possible, the earlier you can begin the application process, the better! 

What topics are covered in the 13 + exams?

As with the 11 + exams, there can be significant variations in the content of the 13 + Common Entrance exams from school to school. The first thing to find out is whether the school creates their own paper or uses the Common Entrance (CE) papers set by the Independent Schools Examination Board (ISEB). 

Either way, all pupils will be required to sit papers in the core subjects of: 

  • English 
  • Maths 
  • Science 

On top of this, pupils may be required to sit exams in some of the following: 

  • Verbal reasoning 
  • Non-verbal reasoning
  • Humanities
  • Languages 

13 +
Entrance Exams

How can you prepare for the 13 + exam?

The 13 + exam is a rigorous assessment of children’s abilities across a wide range of curriculum topics. It is worth regularly consulting with your child’s teachers at their current school and considering a professional tutor is always a wise option. 
  • READING: One of the best ways your child can prepare is by reading widely at home. Reading expands children’s vocabulary and exposes them to a wide range of vocabulary, puncutation and grammar stuctures, without them even realising it. 
  • GAMES: Learning at home should always involve an element of fun. Crosswords, wordsearches and other games such as scrabble can really help children develop their vocabulary and think in different ways. 
  • PAST PAPERS: Practising with past papers from schools’ previous entrance exams can be a very useful way to gain familiarity with the types of questions that are usually asked. However, they should also not be seen as a failsafe way of preparing – all papers are different and some change year on year. They can, however, be useful to assess a child’s strong and weak points and where to focus any extra support. 
  • TUTORING: Often, the most effective way to prepare for the 13+ exam is through an experienced and professional tutor – and this is where we can help. A professional tutuor can combine several different methods to help a student prepare for the exams, whether this be through a long term or short term preparation program. 
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