What you need to know

If you are thinking of sending your child to an independent senior school they will need to sit the Common Entrance

The Independent Schools Examinations Board produces Common Entrance examination papers at 11+ and 13+ for pupils seeking entry to most senior independent schools. Some schools set their own entrance examinations. 

Highly qualified and experienced teachers drawn from some of the best independent senior and prep schools in the UK devise the Common Entrance papers. They all have specialist subject knowledge and a thorough understanding of the age group.

Pupils sit the Common Entrance examination at 11+ when they are in Year 6, mainly for entrance to senior independent girls’ schools. There are two examination sessions each year, in
November and January. Most girls sit the examination in January. They take papers in English, Mathematics and Science.

The 13+ Common Entrance examination is strongly supported by many of the top prep and independent senior schools in the UK. Its rigorous syllabuses and breadth of subjects provide a strong academic focus for pupils in Years 7 and 8 and an excellent grounding for GCSEs.

Examination sessions take place in November, January and May/June.

The core subjects of English, Mathematics and Science are compulsory. In addition, candidates can sit papers in a wide range of subjects such as French, Geography, History and Religious Studies.

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For your child to have the best chance of successfully passing the exams, your support as a parent will be crucial. 

If your child is currently attending a state primary school it may
be the case that they are given no formal preparation for the exams in school time.

Consider enlisting a private tutor and importantly familiarise your child early on with the papers by downloading practice papers at
This will highlight any areas of weakness allowing plenty of time for improvement and thus boosting your child’s confidence before sitting the actual exams. 

Parents of pupils at state schools can enter their child for the
exams using the registration form available on the Independent
Schools Examinations Board website.

At 13+, advice should be sought from the chosen senior school
about the papers which need to be taken, and at which level.

Some pupils from the state sector will be able to sit the examinations in their current school while others will need to find a suitable sitting centre, such as a local prep school or a tutorial college.