About Us


How is Common Entrance examined?
The Common Entrance examinations are usually taken in the candidate's current school. Most candidates are entered by their prep schools, but candidates in the maintained sector and many of those overseas are entered by their parents or tutors. 11+ candidates sit examinations in English, Mathematics and Science when they are in Year 6. 13+ candidates also sit examinations in these core subjects, alongside papers selected from a wide range of humanities, languages and classical subjects. 13+ candidates take their examinations in Year 8, most of them in the summer term for entry in September.
Do all independent schools use the Common Entrance examination?
Many independent senior schools use Common Entrance, but not all of them. Some schools set their own entrance examinations. Prep schools, or a candidate's parent, should check with the relevant senior school to see whether Common Entrance is required and, if so, which papers need to be taken and at which level.
Who sets the papers?
The papers are set by teams of highly qualified and experienced teachers drawn from some of the best independent senior and prep schools in the UK. They all have specialist subject knowledge and a thorough understanding of the age group.
Who marks the Common Entrance papers?

The papers are marked by teaching staff in the senior school for which a pupil is entered. Detailed mark schemes are provided by the Board but senior schools are free to allocate marks according to their own criteria.

Senior schools award candidates a grade for each subject, from A to E. Each senior school decides the range of marks represented by each grade, and this may vary from school to school.
Can pupils from state schools sit Common Entrance?
Yes, pupils from the maintained sector can sit Common Entrance and many do, particularly at 11+. Pupils are usually entered by their parents using the registration form available in the parents' section of this 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; others will need to find a suitable sitting centre, such as a local prep school or a tutorial college.
Can pupils from overseas sit Common Entrance?
Yes, a significant number from overseas sit Common Entrance examinations, mainly for senior schools in the UK but also for independent schools in their own countries. The examinations can often be taken in candidates' own schools and the Board regularly despatches papers to schools in Hong Kong, China, Kenya, Nigeria, the United States, Russia and a wide range of other countries.
What are the ISEB Common Pre-Tests?
The Common Pre-Tests are a set of online tests used by a number of senior independent schools to assess candidates' suitability for entry, even though many will still be required to sit Common Entrance in Year 8. The tests, commissioned from GL Assessment, are taken when a candidate is in Year 6 or 7 and are designed to provide a universal and standardised assessment measure for the independent sector. They cover Mathematics, English, verbal and non-verbal reasoning and are often taken in the candidate's prep school. For further details, see the Common Pre-Tests section of the website.
Does the Board provide examination papers for potential scholars?
Yes, the Board provides Common Academic Scholarship Examination papers in English, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, Religious Studies, French and Latin. The papers, based on the Common Entrance syllabuses, are both rigorous and challenging and are designed to identify potential scholars. Senior schools enter candidates for either the full range of papers or for just one subject. Candidates usually sit Common Academic Scholarship papers in the senior school to which they are applying.