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Executive Chairman: Durell Barnes, BA (Hons), PGCE
Chief Executive: Julia Martin, MA, BA (Hons), PGCE
The Common Entrance Examinations are used for transfer to senior schools at the ages of 11+ and 13+. The syllabuses are devised and regularly monitored by the Independent Schools Examinations Board which comprises members of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) and the Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS).
The papers are set by examiners appointed by the Board, but the answers are marked by the senior school for which a candidate is entered. Common Entrance is not a public examination as, for example, GCSE, and candidates may normally be entered only if they have been offered a place at a senior school, subject to their passing the examination.
Candidates normally take the examination in their own junior or preparatory schools, either in the UK or overseas.
Common Entrance at 11+ consists of papers in English, Mathematics and Science. At 13+, in addition to these core subjects, a wide range of additional papers is available in modern and classical languages, and the humanities subjects. Tiered papers are available for many subjects.
Mandarin Chinese is offered as an online examination which can be taken at any age.
The 11+ examination is held in early November or mid-January.
The 13+ examination commences either on the first Monday in November, the last Monday in January or on the first Tuesday after the half-term break in June.
In cases where candidates are at schools in membership of the Independent Association of Prep Schools, it is usual for heads of these schools to make arrangements for entering candidates for the appropriate examination after consultation with parents and senior school heads. In the case of candidates at schools which do not normally enter candidates, it is the responsibility of parents to arrange for candidates to be entered for the appropriate examination in accordance with the requirements of senior schools.
Conduct of the Examination
Regulations for the conduct of the examination are laid down by the Independent Schools Examinations Board.
Past Papers and Other Resources
Copies of past Common Entrance papers can be purchased from Galore Park:
Website: www.galorepark.co.uk
Email: customer.services@galorepark.co.uk
Telephone: 01235 400555
ISEB–endorsed Common Entrance textbooks, revision guides and practice exercises are available from a number of publishers, listed on the ISEB website.
The Common Pre-Tests are age-standardised tests used to assess pupils’ attainment and potential when they are in Year 6 or Year 7, prior to entry to their senior schools. Pupils who sit the tests may also be required to sit the Common Entrance examinations.
ISEB commissions the tests from GL Assessment which has long been associated with providing high-quality and reliable assessments in education. The tests are taken online, usually in the pupil’s current school, and include multiple-choice tests in Mathematics, English, verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Senior schools will inform parents if their son or daughter needs to be entered for the tests.
No special preparation is needed for the tests and no past papers are available, although a short familiarisation test is provided for candidates. Examples and practice questions are provided during the test itself so that candidates understand what they have to do.
Further details are available for schools in the Schools section of the ISEB website and for parents in the Parents section of the ISEB website.
ISEB sets Scholarship examination papers at 13+ which a number of independent senior schools use to assess potential scholars. Papers are set in English, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, TPR (Theology, Philosophy and Religion), French and Latin. Questions are based on the Common Entrance syllabuses and past papers are available from Galore Park.
Candidates are entered by the senior schools for which they are registered and the papers are marked by the senior schools themselves.
Developed with reference to project qualifications higher up in the curriculum, Prep schools can now offer pupils a framework to teach and assess independent project learning through the iPQ in a way that harnesses pupils’ individuality, diversity, strengths and interests to create a project that is truly their own and, contributes to a portfolio of qualifications and skills to equip them for life beyond Prep. Pupils are marked on the process of devising a project, undertaking research and evaluating their findings as well as the outcome. It offers the freedom for pupils to explore their own interests beyond the classroom, their extra curricular talents or for schools to use the framework to explore a cross-curricular project.
The iPQ is available for Years 5 & 6 and a further iPQ qualification for Years 7 & 8. Candidates are entered by their Prep schools and the projects are marked by iPQ moderators.
The Independent Schools Examinations Board decides the fees to be charged for each candidate. Schools are notified annually of fees payable for the next academic year. Parents seeking information about current fees should look on the ISEB website or contact the ISEB office.
Correspondence about academic matters relating to the Examinations and requests for further information about the administration of the Examinations should be addressed to the Chief Executive.
Independent Schools Examinations Board
Suite 3, Endeavour House, Crow Arch Lane, Ringwood, Hampshire BH24 1HP
Tel: 01425 470555 • email: