Pathways To Learning... Since 2005
Hong Kong Registered School 566985

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My son had a CAT 4 UK school entrance exam to prepare for. ITS helped with a mock test and found out several areas that needed improvement. Preparation time was short but after some well planned and intense lessons my son passed the entrance exam and will be attending the UK school in 2021! Can’t thank ITS enough!

How to get into top UK boarding schools

Hong Kong students have been going to school in the UK for many years. The basic process for doing this has not changed, although there have been changes in detail with the way certain schools work and the types of test you might need.

The simple answer to how to access a UK boarding school is this:
How to access UK Boarding School
How to access UK Boarding School
How to access UK Boarding School

ITS has a long history of working with families and has sent hundreds of Hong Kong students to UK schools successfully. Contact us for an in-depth discussion. Note that we are not an agent so we receive no money from schools. Our opinion is completely unbiased.

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There are 3 “normal” points of entry to UK schools in Years 7, 9 and 12. Generally they all involve selection tests, interview and entrance exams. Year 12 entry can be achieved if you already have public exam results such as IGCSE [which you can take at ITS]. For Years 7 and 9, there are a range of other tests which is why we emphasize that you get clear guidance from the school about what they want from YOU.

The ISEB Pre-tests take about two-and-a-half hours to complete, and they have the following sections:

  • English – 25 minutes (reading comprehension, sentence completion, spelling and punctuation)
  • Mathematics – 50 minutes (content is in line with the British National Curriculum topics taught up to the end of Year 5)
  • Verbal reasoning – 36 minutes (common words, antonyms, word combinations, letter transfer, number codes)
  • Non-verbal reasoning – 32 minutes (shape analogies, classes like, horizontal codes)

Candidate's results will include the time taken for each test element

UKISETs take about 2 hours to complete(including breaks between each section), it is comprised of the following sections:

  • Section 1 45 minutes Reasoning (quantitative, non-verbal reasoning, verbal reasoning)
  • Section 2 30 minutes English Test (reading and listening section of the test)
  • Section 3 30 minutes English Essay (a handwritten expressive writing on age appropriate topic)

Common Entrance Examinations
The 11+, and 13+ Common Entrance examinations are strongly supported by many of the top UK boarding schools. Schools that opt with their own set of examinations normally use the common entrance as a base, and are often very similar in structure, format and degree of difficulty.

Students sit the Common Entrance examination at 11+ when they are in Year 6. There are two examination sessions each year, in November and January. They take papers in English, Mathematics and Science.

Pupils sit the Common Entrance examination at 13+ when they are in Year 8. There are three examination sessions each year, in November, January and May/June.

At 13+, pupils will sit exams in:

  • English
  • Maths
  • Science

Most pupils will also take papers in:

  • French
  • Geography
  • History
  • Religious Studies

Optional papers are also set for:

  • Latin
  • Classical Greek
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Mandarin Chinese

15 Hour ITS ISEB – CAT4 – Ukiset Verbal and Non – Verbal Reasoning Course caters to the Verbal and Non-Verbal reasoning sections of ISEB, CAT4, and UKiset school-entrance examinations.

→ The Verbal section covers questions that are frequently tested in all three tests.

→ The Non – Verbal section is broken down into two parts – the first part addresses questions that are comparable to ISEB and CAT4 examinations, and the second part consists of questions that appear in CAT4 and Ukiset examinations.

→ The coursebook also includes a reinforcement section focusing on typical questions covered in the non-verbal sections so that it can help students develop a strong foundation.

→ Finally, there is an assessment section at the end of the coursebook which will help us to gauge a student’s likely performance in the actual exam.

15 Hour ISEB – CAT4 – Ukiset Math Course Course caters to the fundamentals associated with the quantitative sections of ISEB, CAT4, and UKiset school-entrance examinations and covers questions that are frequently tested in all the three tests.

→ The course will enable pupils to become fluent with essential mathematical concepts, encourage the development of investigative thinking, and develop problem solving and reasoning skills. It will also instill confidence and resilience through an appreciation of the value of learning from mistakes.

→ Students will extend their knowledge developed in geometry and measurement and ensure that they are able to classify shapes with complex geometric properties.

→ They will also achieve fluency in written methods for all four operations, including long multiplication and division, and in working with fractions, decimals and percentages.

→ It will also help them to learn the vocabulary needed to describe mathematical scenarios, geometric shapes and statistical studies and ensure that they read, spell and pronounce mathematical terminologies correctly.


The Familiarization package is for students who are native English speakers, attend an international school and just need to make sure they have covered all the bases.

The Consolidation package is aimed at students who are at local school and have solid English abilities. The focus is more on learning content not covered in local syllabuses.

The Comprehensive package suits students with less English language experience and who are at school. They will need to learn a range of content and skills to be successful.

Regular Comprehensive
15 hrs prep 30 hrs prep
1 mock 2 mocks
2 interview skills 3 interview skills
1.5 AtH 3 AtH + 2 reports
HK$14,000 HK$25,000

*Ask the Head is our collaboration with Chris Curl. Chris has spent most of his career so far in Independent Senior and Prep Day and Boarding Schools. His first teaching job was at Haileybury Junior School where he helped children gain entry, and scholarships, to top schools including Eton and Winchester. He has been a Boarding Housemaster, Head of English & Drama, Director of Co-Curricular Activities and, for 16 years, a Headmaster achieving outstanding inspection results. He has also directed international language summer schools based at boarding schools including Dulwich Prep and Stowe. Chris is also a trained Motivational Map practitioner - the maps help to identify what motivates an individual and are invaluable in selecting subjects at school and courses at university. He believes that each student should be treated as a unique individual and enjoys boosting their confidence while helping prepare them for interviews.

Year 12 entry for A-level

Most schools will require entrance exams to be taken in the November before the proposed start date (e.g. take tests in November 2019 if you want to start school in September 2020). They usually use a variety of questions from GCSE past papers. Students who are taking real IGCSEs may be exempt from these tests or will at least benefit from learning the same material. We often find students who take a couple of IGCSEs with ITS do very well in both entering British boarding schools at year 12 and in settling in and doing well at A-level once they are there. Contact us to discuss an IGCSE programme for entrance prep and for taking the real exam.

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