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A guide to the different entrance exams used by UK private schools

Updated: Aug 7, 2019

Part 3

13+ exams

13+ exams relate specifically to the private sector. Children at Prep Schools will target their studies towards taking 13+ Common Entrance Exams in Year 8. Children who are applying to a secondary independent school but who are not at a Prep School will usually sit specific papers set by the senior school. These children are not usually expected to take Common Entrance papers but it is worth checking with the relevant school or looking at our schools directory for more information.

There are a growing number of pupils who choose to start their education in a state primary and then to continue onto Prep School in Year 6 or 7. A lot of these children will have gaps in their knowledge, notably in Latin and French. Prep School Tutor has specialist tutors who can fast track children to catch up with their peers, working on filling in the gaps in as effective and time efficient manner as possible.

When are 13+ Common Entrance exams taken?

Pupils sit 13+ Common Entrance Exams either in November, January or May/June or Year 8. The summer exams generally fall directly after half term.

Which subjects are required for 13+ Common Entrance?

The core subjects - English, Mathematics and Science - are compulsory and then, additionally, public schools request certain extra papers from French, Latin, History, Geography, Religious Studies, Spanish, German, Classical Greek and Mandarin. Prep School Tutor can provide specialist tutors in all Common Entrance subjects apart from Mandarin. All tutors are teachers with a minimum of 3 years experience in Prep School education.

Are there different levels for different Common Entrance subjects?

In most subjects, students can choose from a number of levels. The Senior School may specify their preferred level, for example, all candidates for Harrow must sit Level 2 French. Have a look at our schools directory for more information.

Who set the Common Entrance papers?

The syllabuses are put together by the Independent Schools Examinations Board. This is made up of Heads from the three Associations: The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, The Girls' Schools Association and The Independent Association of Prep Schools. The Common Entrance papers are set by examiners appointed by the Board.

Who marks the Common Entrance papers?

The relevant senior school marks the Common Entrance papers. For example, if a child is applying for Radley College then Radley College will be the ones to mark their Common Entrance papers.

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