Many independent schools that admit children at 13 are now holding pre-tests for 10 – 11 year olds to gauge their academic potential ahead of the Common Entrance exam at 13+.

What are pre-tests?

Pre-tests are set by some independent senior schools to help determine a pupil's suitability for entry, ahead of the 13+ Common Entrance exam. The tests can be computerised, multiple-choice exams in English, Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning and may sometimes also include an interview with the child.

The purpose of the tests is to understand potential, rather than just pure academic ability. Because of this, pre-tests cannot strictly be revised for and no specific preparation is available or recommended. It may, however, be possible for prep schools to obtain sample material for pupils to get used to the format of the tests set by the school they are applying for.

Success in pre-tests doesn't necesarily guarantee entry, as pupils will also need to pass the Common Entrance exam at 13+. Those who fail the pre-test are unlikely to be accepted at the school, even if they are successful in the 13+ Common Entrance exam. 

Pre-tests can be helpful in that they can help to focus pupils' study, particularly if there are areas where improvement is required to pass Common Entrance. For parents, pre-tests can help to guide more realistic expectaions of their child's likelihood of gaining entry into their preferred school at 13+ and, if necessary, to widen the choice to include schools which are more suited to their ability. 

What subjects are pupils tested on?

ISEB Common Pre-Tests are in English, Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. Schools may choose to set their own pre-tests, but the selection of subjects is usually the same.

How long are the tests?

ISEB Common Pre-Tests are taken online, and will take around two and a half hours to complete. The tests will normally be taken at the pupil’s prep school, although this is at the school’s discretion.

The duration of other (non-ISEB) pre-tests is determined by the senior school.

How can pupils prepare for pre-tests?

The tests are designed to gauge pupils’ potential - and therefore no preparation is required, and no specific revision materials are available. However, pupils may find it helpful to look at ISEB Common Entrance past exam papers, and other revision and practice materials at 11+

More information about ISEB Common Pre-Tests