Review: Common Entrance 13+ English for ISEB CE and KS3 Textbook
By Adam Muckle
31 Aug

This new English textbook for the ISEB Common Entrance and KS3 level from Galore Park is superlative. It goes beyond other similar English textbooks insofar that it embraces all the language disciplines – reading, writing, speaking and listening – exploring why, how, when and where these skills are useful in life generally, not just for exams.

It explores topics and themes that are covered in Common Entrance comprehension and writing tasks. It addresses basic grammar, punctuation and spelling – issues that can arise as early as pre-test/11+/KS2 but perhaps yet not resolved – but also areas that are important for scholarship exams.

An excellent range of authors and texts have been selected for reading and analysis. There are also reading recommendations after various chapters of the book to encourage students to further their interest in topics. The range of texts, genres and styles address many issues that are of interest to and affect young people today, from the environment, identity and immigration. It explores themes of technology, journeying, relationships and conflict, different perspectives and causes, among others. It picks influential texts, both modern and classic, linking them visually with photos from films and programmes children may be familiar; Jurassic Park, Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde to name a few. The book shows students areas for analysis of these texts – fiction, non-fiction, drama and poetry, along with potential questions, short as well as long, encouraging simple or more developed responses respectively.

For writing, the book highlights different structures students can use, including PEE/A, the Hero’s Journey, how to vary sentence length, include dialogue and how best to deploy vocabulary and style in their writing.

There are sections giving opportunities for discussion and debate to explore themes with others, as well as highlighting exam technique and an excellent glossary at the end of the book. It encourages children to reflect and review their own work. These areas are sometimes neglected in other textbooks and therefore distinguishes this book from the competition.

The book is likely not only to enhance a students’ academic fitness for excelling at Common Entrance but also a teacher or tutor’s support in their exam preparation and beyond.

Adam Muckle is originally from Belfast and studied Classics at Durham University. After training as a Barrister, a chance conversation led him unexpectedly to tutoring. Over the past 11 years, Adam has tutored in London, throughout the British Isles, Europe, Asia and online. He is an Honorary Fellow of The Tutors’ Association, the professional body for tutoring in the UK, and served as its President from 2016 to 2019. For more information, please visit

The new Common Entrance 13+ English for ISEB CE and KS3 series is made up of the print textbook, PDF answers (with sample Scheme of Work) and the eBook version of the textbook. A new revision guide and exam practice question and answer book will be publishing in 2022. Learn more and order online here.

Tags: 13+, 13+ Common Entrance, Adam Muckle, case study, CE, CE 13+, Common Entrance, Elly Lacey, English, Independent School Examination Board, ISEB, Key Stage 3

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