ISEB Common Entrance Exam 11+ And 13+
And Other UK School Entrance Tests
Contact us by email or at 2116 3916 (Central MAP) or 2116 3258
(TST MAP). Find a booking form here.
CEE & UK School Entrance Tests
There are lots of rumours about what entrance tests a child will have to sit in order to gain access to a particular school. Here at ITS, we aim to take the stress out of the process of applying to UK boarding schools by providing clear and accurate advice on the assessments that students will face. Parents should note that the aim is not to cram for the exam but to teach children the gaps in their present curriculum compared to the UK curriculum so that they will be able to perform in the entrance assessment AND be ready to join their peer group on arrival in the UK.
We do provide mock entrance tests, including mock Common Entrance Examinations, so that parents know how well their child is likely to perform, and high quality tuition geared to helping students to improve their performance as well as feel confident in starting their new school at the right level.
For more information about Common Entrance Examinations and other UK school entrance tests, please read the following FAQs. If you have a specific question that is not dealt with here, please contact us. We will send you the answer and add the question to this page for the benefit of other parents.
What is the Common Entrance Exam?
The Common Entrance Exam is a type of test used by UK private schools, including top boarding schools, as part of their student selection processes. The first Common Entrance Examinations took place over one hundred years ago. There are two types of Common Entrance Examination:
The 11+ is sat by students in UK Year 6 (equivalent to Hong Kong P6) who are applying for entry into UK Year 7.
The 13+ is sat by students in UK Year 8 (equivalent to Hong Kong F2) who are applying for entry into UK year 9, which is the year before students begin their GCSE studies.
The Common Entrance Exam is set by ISEB
Who are ISEB?
ISEB stands for the Independent Schools Examination Board. ISEB is responsible for setting 11+ and 13+ Common Entrance Examination papers.
Will my child have to sit the Common Entrance Examination?
Students applying for places at UK boarding schools are likely to be asked to take entrance tests. Most schools are likely to ask international students to sit their own test papers, rather than the Common Entrance Examination. Some schools – such as Concord College – use online testing, but most use more traditional written tests.The tests that international students are asked to sit may be different from those which UK students are asked to sit. UK students are more likely to be asked to sit Common Entrance Examinations.
What is the structure of the 11+ Common Entrance Examination?
At 11+, students from outside the UK are likely to be asked to take papers in Maths, English and perhaps Science. Some schools may ask students to sit papers in other subjects. Often a reasoning test will be included if not already at interview. These days, 13+ is often the same for overseas applicants, just at a higher level. Some schools do however ask for other subjects at this stage. Please contact us for information on other Common Entrance Examination papers. Generally the exams are about one hour in length and are a traditional written paper. Core subjects such as maths and English may have more than one paper.
On which subjects will my child be tested?
This varies according to the age of the child:
Overseas Students applying for places in UK school Years 7 through 10 Almost all schools that require entrance tests will ask students to sit papers in Maths and English. They may also require them to sit papers in Science, Verbal Reasoning and/or Non-Verbal Reasoning. A few schools may ask students to sit papers in other subjects.
Overseas Students applying for places in UK school Year 12 (Sixth Form) Students applying for places in Year 12 are likely to have to sit tests in some or all of the A Level, Pre-U or IB Diploma subjects that they are planning to take. As students who have been studying in the Hong Kong education system no longer take HKCEEs, UK schools have no formal test results to go on when offering places and are therefore likely to place more emphasis on entrance tests. If you are unsure which subjects your child will be tested on, contact us and we will help you with your query.
When will my child have to sit entrance tests? Where will my child have to sit entrance tests?
The dates and locations for entrance test sittings vary.
Some schools require students to take entrance tests at their premises in the UK. Others are happy for students to sit tests in their home country. Schools that allow testing overseas may require tests to be administered in a specific location (e.g. the British Council, the student’s current school or at a particular educational consultant’s offices). Exams take place at any time between November and May of the academic year before entry.
ITS is able to provide invigilation services for many schools’ entrance tests. Contact us for the latest information on school entrance test policies, dates and locations.
What marks will my child need to achieve in order to be offered a place at a particular school?
Common Entrance Examinations Standards vary - one school may set 60% as an average on the papers whereas another may require 50%. Parents will always be told what the particular school expects prior to the examination being sat.
For candidates whose first language is not English, there is some flexibility. They may be allowed dictionaries and up to 25% extra time. They may be allowed a lower pass mark in the English papers. Parents should remember that there are no fixed benchmarks. Every student is different, as is every school, and you can ‘negotiate’ the entry requirements.
School Entrance Tests
Schools are almost certain to set a pass mark for each paper, but they may not make this mark available to applicants. This is because the number of students that pass the exam may be greater than the number of places are available. Factors other than exam scores may then come into play. For example, a school may choose a student who has achieved a pass mark but who has scored lower than other candidates, if they will contribute to the school in other ways, such as in music or sport. Students should aim to do their very best in tests, rather than focusing on what they need to do to achieve a pass mark.
Will taking IGCSEs give my child a better chance of getting into the Sixth Form of a top UK school?
Many overseas students have no public examinations at the time when they apply for a UK Year 12 entry. A student can address this by taking IGCSEs. The results will provide a formal, independent assessment of their knowledge of a particular subject.
Taking IGCSEs offers another benefit. UK school entrance tests are based on the UK National Curriculum. A student who has taken an IGCSE in a particular subject will be familiar with the National Curriculum; a student who has not done so may have gaps in their knowledge. A student can, of course, address such gaps through tuition with ITS. Having done so and if time allows, they might as well take the relevant IGCSE.
However, we should emphasise that their is no requirement for students to take IGCSEs. Schools will generally be happy assess students' performance based on entrance tests and school reports.
ITS is a fully accredited Edexcel exam centre. Students can take a full range of IGCSEs. To find out more, please contact us. All subjects are available in our Hong Kong schools or via our online school by live lessons with the same teachers.
Asian students are very strong at Maths. Why would my child need help preparing for a Maths entrance test?
Maths is taught differently in the UK compared to Asian countries. Although students from Asian local system schools tend to be stronger at Maths than UK students of the equivalent age, there are some topics that UK students will have covered with which they might not be familiar. They may also encounter words with which they are not familiar or have difficulty understanding the instructions that they are meant to follow. For example, most entrance tests require students to show their workings as well as their answers. A student who gets every answer right, but fails to show his or her workings will perform poorly. Maths problems are often hidden in problem-based scenarios written in English. Poor language skills can get in the way of being able to show maths ability. Even a very strong mathematician may therefore need some help to learn how to do UK Maths.
Where can my child take mock Common Entrance Examinations?
ITS has access to past Common Entrance Examination papers and can administer mock entrance tests at our schools in Central and TST . We do not charge for administering tests: our charges are based on the time spent on marking. The time spent marking a test will be equal to the duration of the test. For example, we will charge for one hour’s marking time for a paper that is one hour in duration.
In addition to providing you with the test marks, we will provide you with a breakdown of your child’s strengths and weaknesses and suggest a tuition plan to ensure that he or she is fully prepared for the real exam.
To book a mock Common Entrance Examination, please contact us. Mock tests are free for children taking tution lessons with us.
Where can my child take mock school entrance tests?
In addition to having access to Common Entrance Examination papers, we have a wide selection of schools’ own entrance tests. If you would like your child to sit a particular school’s entrance test, please contact us. We will inform you whether copies of that school’s test papers are available in the public domain. If they are not, we will suggest a suitable alternative.
To book a mock entrance test, please contact us.
Contact us by email or at 2116 3916 (Central MAP) or 2116 3258 (Tsim Sha Tsui MAP). Find a booking form here.