Covid-19 ISEB Update - Arrangements for Common Entrance Exams 2020
By Kate Allen
30 Mar
Further to previous messages we would like to clarify arrangements for 13+ Common Entrance this summer. ISEB's position remains that we seek to ensure that where schools wish their pupils to take CE, they may do so. This will allow prep schools to acknowledge pupils’ achievements and enable senior schools to know what pupils joining them next year know, understand and can do. We appreciate that some schools do not wish their pupils to sit the examinations and understand that they wish to adopt a different approach. The purpose of this statement is to outline arrangements both for cancellation and for how pupils may sit the examinations.

It is perhaps helpful to begin by outlining what stage the examination process has reached at this point. The setting and QA processes for all examinations have been completed, all papers have been prepared and school orders are in process. For this reason, it is necessary to levy a cancellation charge where pupils will not be taking the examinations. This has been set at £60 per pupil and although it by no means reflects the costs already incurred, we regard it as fair. As papers have already been prepared, we currently plan to send these to schools which cancel. They should arrive after the examination week and we hope they will be useful to schools in preparing future pupils.

Schools wishing to cancel registrations

In order to allow ISEB to undertake the necessary administration for this, schools should inform the ISEB office of any cancellations by Tuesday 21 April. This can be done by emailing and providing a full list of pupils whose registrations are to be cancelled. It is the responsibility of prep schools also to notify senior schools of these cancellations.

Schools wishing their pupils to sit the 2020 examinations
  • Papers will reach schools in time for the week of oral examinations. Papers and CDs for oral examinations will be included but we anticipate that, even if schools were once again in session by that time, the logistical arrangements required for these would be excessive. Therefore, we do not expect oral examinations to be taken this year. The papers and CDs will be available in the event that schools were open in June and wished to use them after the main examinations.
  • Schools may send examination paper packs by secure mail to pupils’ homes. They should be sent on Friday 29 May together with a return envelope addressed to the prep school.
  • Where it is not possible for schools to post examination packs to pupils, schools may transmit examination papers electronically to pupils’ homes for printing.
  • Schools should inform ISEB by Wednesday 20 May, supplying a designated email address, if they wish to use this facility. ISEB will provide schools with access to PDF copies of papers via a secure file-sharing system on Friday 29 May. (Please note that geography maps will need to be sent by post together with a return envelope addressed to the prep school.)
  • Pupils’ scripts should be despatched to prep schools by post by the end of the last day of their examinations (and no later than Friday 5 June).
  • Schools will have their own messages to send to parents about the conduct of these examinations, but we would ask that a statement from ISEB and a parental declaration form are included. ISEB will provide these for schools before the examination period.
  • Papers and mark schemes will be sent to senior/internal marking schools in the usual way.
  • Arrangements about marking are as usual for agreement between senior and prep schools.
  • Arrangements for the despatch of certificates for those pupils who are registered to take the examinations will be as normal.
We would additionally advise prep school heads to include in their Head’s Report information about past performance in CE papers taken in exam conditions at school.

Practice resources

To facilitate preparation of pupils for CE, schools are permitted, in these exceptional circumstances, to send practice/mock papers to pupils’ homes, electronically or by other means.

This guidance will be regularly updated on our website.

If you have any questions, please email

Tags: 13+, 13+ Common Entrance, 13 plus, Common Entrance, Entrance exams, exam, Exam Preparation, exams, Independent School Examination Board, ISEB, school entrance exams

Share this post: