Common Entrance Exam Papers:
A Beginner's Guide 



The exam papers

  • The Common Entrance exam papers we supply are set by the ISEB (the Independent Schools Examinations Board). A lot of independent schools in the UK use ISEB Common Entrance exams as part of their entry assessment process. Some schools choose instead to write their own entrance exams; however, whichever exam your child will be sitting, using past Common Entrance papers as part of their revision is still the best way to prepare, as many exams set by the schools themselves are very similar to Common Entrance.
     

  • All of the exam paper packs supplied by Galore Park include a mark scheme. This provides guidance on the number of marks available per question, so that you can read through the answers your child has given, and see how well they would have performed in a live exam 
     

  • Common Entrance exams are sat at different times of the school year. The exams are not harder or easier depending on when they are sat, the questions are simply different.

    • Autumn: November (11+ and 13+) 

    • Spring: January/February (11+, 13+ and 13+ CASE) 

    • Summer: May/June (13+ and 13+ CASE) 
       

  • Some subjects, such as Maths, French, German, and Spanish, have a 'Listening' section as part of the examination. A transcript of the Listening section will be supplied with the test paper, so that you can read the questions out to your child for them to answer. If you would like, you can also purchase an Audio CD of the Listening section; however, please note that this is a separate item - you will not receive the Audio CD if you order just the Exams Pack (which includes the Listening paper), and vice-versa 


 



11+ Common Entrance Exams 

At 11+ Common Entrance pupils will sit exams in 
English, maths and science. These papers are not levelled, so you do not need to worry about which one to select. 

What about 11+ Verbal or Non-Verbal Reasoning? Pupils are not required to sit a Verbal or Non-Verbal Reasoning paper as part of the 11+ Common Entrance exam. 

 



13+ Common Entrance Exams 

At 13+ Common Entrance, pupils must sit exams in English, maths and science. Most pupils will also take papers in French, geography, history and religious studies. Optional papers are also set for Classical Greek, German, Latin, and Spanish.
 


Which 13+ papers are levelled? 

Most 13+ papers are now levelled - Level 2 is always the standard level, and is the one that most pupils sit. 

  • Level 1 - designed for candidates who are unlikely to achieve more than 40% on the Level 2 paper 

  • Level 2 - the standard level - most candidates will be entered for this paper 

  • Level 3 - the highest level - this is the hardest of the 13+ Common Entrance papers 
     

If you do not know which level your son or daughter is expected to be entered for, please contact his or her current school. The decision as to which level a pupil is entered for is generally negotiated between the junior and the senior school to which the child is applying. 

 


13+ exam paper information by subject 


English

In the 13+ English Common Entrance exam, your child will sit two papers for English at either Level 1 or Level 2. Each level consists of two papers:

Paper 1: Reading (literary prose) and writing (prose for a practical purpose)
Paper 2: Reading (poetry) and writing (imaginative, descriptive or narrative)

Most candidates sit Level 2, which is the standard. If you are looking for exam papers to practice with, we would recommend the 13+ English papers on our
website

In addition to using past exam papers, we would also recommend our brand new 13+ Common Entrance revision and practice series, consisting of English for Common Entrance at 13+ Revision Guide, English for Common Entrance at 13+ Exam Practice Questions, and English for Common Entrance at 13+ Exam Practice Answers.


 



Maths 

There are three papers for Maths: a calculator paper, a non-calculator paper, and a mental arithmetic paper. The calculator and non-calculator papers are levelled, with Level 3 being the hardest. Most candidates sit Level 2. All pupils will sit the same Mental Arithmetic test, which is delivered via an Audio CD. 

Buying the right exam pack couldn’t be easier on our website: simply select 13+ Maths and then either the Level 1, 2 or 3 Exams Pack. The pack you chose will contain everything you need: Calculator paper, non-calculator paper, mental arithmetic paper, mental arithmetic examiners transcript and mark Scheme. 

The Examiners Transcript is the written version of an Audio CD that is played to pupils during the Mental Arithmetic part of the exam. You can read the transcript aloud to your child to test them on this section of the paper; alternatively, you may wish to buy the Audio CD itself. This can be found at the bottom of the Maths exam papers section. Please note, no Mental Arithmetic paper or mark scheme is supplied with the CD and must be purchased as part of the Maths Exams Pack. 

In addition to using past exam papers, we would also recommend our 13+ Common Entrance revision and practice series, consisting of Mathematics for Common Entrance at 13+ Revision Guide, Mathematics for Common Entrance at 13+ Exam Practice Questions, Mathematics for Common Entrance at 13+ Exam Practice Answers.




Science

Your child will sit either Level 1 exam or Level 2 – as with other subjects, Level 2 is the standard level and the one most pupils sit. The Level 2 paper is split into three sections (one paper each for Biology, Chemistry and Physics), whereas Level 1 candidates will sit one combined Science paper. 

In addition to using past exam papers, we would also recommend our 13+ Common Entrance revision and practice series, consisting of Science for Common Entrance at 13+ Revision Guide, Science for Common Entrance at 13+ Exam Practice QuestionsScience for Common Entrance at 13+ Exam Practice Answers.
 




French

There are two levels (most candidates sit Level 2) for the French exam. Both Level 1 and Level 2 candidates complete three papers: listening, speaking, and, reading and writing. 

As with Maths, you also have the option to purchase an Audio CD that accompanies the Listening paper, but please remember to select the level that corresponds with the Exams Pack. An Examiners Transcript (written version of the Audio CD) is supplied as part of the French Exams Pack but some children find it easier to practise with the pre-recorded CD. 


In addition to using French past exam papers, we would also recommend our 13+ Common Entrance revision and practice series, consisting of French for Common Entrance at 13+ Revision Guide, French for Common Entrance at 13+ Exam Practice QuestionsFrench for Common Entrance at 13+ Exam Practice Answers.



Geography

The Geography Common Entrance exam at 13+ has not been levelled, and candidates take one paper.

In addition to using Geography past exam papers, we would also recommend our 13+ Common Entrance revision and practice series, consisting of Geography for Common Entrance at 13+ Revision Guide, Geography for Common Entrance at 13+ Exam Practice QuestionsGeography for Common Entrance at 13+ Exam Practice Answers.




History

The Common Entrance exam for History has also not been levelled. However, the exam setters at ISEB have recently changed the style of the exam, with the first sitting having taken place in Autumn 2013. 

In addition to using History past exam papers, we would also recommend our 13+ Common Entrance revision and practice series, consisting of History for Common Entrance at 13+ Revision Guide, History for Common Entrance at 13+ Exam Practice QuestionsHistory for Common Entrance at 13+ Exam Practice Answers.




Religious Studies 

This exam has not been levelled, but there are two different exam papers that candidates can sit, based on the syllabus they have studied (chosen by the school): 

  • Syllabus A paper: Old Testament, New Testament, World Religions and Contemporary Issues
  • Syllabus B paper: Syllabus):Old Covenant, Jesus Christ and the Sacraments, and the Church 

In addition to using Religious Studies past exam papers, we would also recommend our 13+ Common Entrance revision and practice series, consisting of Religious Studies for Common Entrance at 13+ Revision Guide, Religious Studies for Common Entrance at 13+ Exam Practice QuestionsReligious Studies for Common Entrance at 13+ Exam Practice Answers.



Classical Greek

The 13+ Classical Greek paper is levelled, but both papers are contained within the same Exams Pack. Level 1 is intended for pupils who are new to Greek, and Level 2 for those who have studied the language in a little more depth.



Latin

The Latin paper is levelled, with most candidates being entered for Level 2. Level 1 is for pupils who have only studied Latin for a short period of time and Level 3 is the hardest. However, papers are supplied similarly to Classical Greek, all three levels are included in one Latin Exams Pack. 

In addition to using Latin past exam papers, we would also recommend our 13+ Common Entrance revision and practice series, consisting of Latin for Common Entrance at 13+ Revision Guide, Latin for Common Entrance at 13+ Exam Practice QuestionsLatin for Common Entrance at 13+ Exam Practice Answers.




German

The German exam has not been levelled. As with French, there is an Audio CD you can purchase separately for the Listening section of the exam, at an additional cost to the Exams Pack. 

 


Spanish

The 13+ Spanish exam is divided into four sections: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Candidates will be assessed in all of these areas at the appropriate level (most candidates sit Level 2). There is also an Audio CD you can purchase for the listening sections of the exam at an additional cost – make sure you pick the same level for both the CD and Exams Pack.
 

 


CASE (13+ Common Academic Scholarship Exam)

The Common Academic Scholarship Exam is taken by pupils aged 12 or 13 instead of the 13+ Common Entrance exam, and is set at a higher level. You can purchase past CASE papers in the same way as 11+ or 13+ papers – we have separated them into subject packs to make it easier for you to select the ones you need. Each subject pack contains the examination paper as well as guidelines for marking. 

Please bear in mind that the guidelines provided are not mark schemes – they do not have the same level of detail as the mark schemes included in the 13+ Common Entrance Exam Packs, but they do provide you with some suggestions about how a successful candidate should answer the questions. 

If you are purchasing CASE papers for Latin, please note that a working knowledge of the language is required to be able to use the guidelines. 


 



If you are struggling to understand which papers you should buy for your son or daughter, please pick up the phone and contact our Customer Service Advisors on 020 3122 6405. They will be more than happy to help you find the right exam papers.