What are the Common Pre-Tests?

The Common Pre-Tests are age-standardised tests used to assess pupils' attainment and potential when they are in Year 6 or Year 7, prior to entry to their senior schools. If your son or daughter is offered a place after completing these tests, he or she will normally still be required to sit the Common Entrance examinations in Year 8.

The tests are taken online, usually in the child's current school, and consist of multiple-choice tests in Mathematics, English, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. Senior schools will inform parents if they use the Common Pre-Tests and will register the candidates. Parents do not need to register their children for the Common Pre-Tests.

Children applying to multiple schools which use the Common Pre-Test will only take the test once per academic year. The set of results obtained will be shared with all schools registering that candidate. In the very unlikely event of a candidate taking the tests more than once within a single academic year, the school(s) will be informed and the first set of results will stand.

The tests take about two-and-a-half hours to complete (English 25 minutes, mathematics 50 minutes, non-verbal reasoning 32 minutes, verbal reasoning 36 minutes) and can be taken together or at separate times, either in the child's own school or at the senior school for which he or she is entered. For overseas candidates, testing centres can be used if prior permission has been granted from the senior school.

  • verbal reasoning tests common words, antonyms, word combinations, letter transfer, number codes
  • non-verbal reasoning tests shape analogies, classes like, horizontal codes
  • English tests reading comprehension, sentence completion, spelling and punctuation
  • The content of the mathematics test is in line with the National Curriculum and the range of topics is checked by a member of the ISEB 11+ setting team; candidates are assessed on National Curriculum topics taught up to the end of Year 5

No special preparation is needed for the tests and no practice tests are available. Examples and practice questions, where relevant, are provided during the tests so that candidates understand what they have to do. Each question is answered by choosing an answer from a selection shown on the screen. Each question must be answered and candidates cannot go back to previous questions. While taking the tests, candidates are able to track their progress within the test (number of questions answered in relation to overall number of questions). A timer is also displayed to show the amount of time remaining. A candidate should aim to answer every question and reach the end of the test. The system does not compensate a candidate who, for example, only answered a few questions but answered them all correctly.

The tests are provided by GL Assessment. Parents and pupils who would like some idea of what the tests will look like online can go to the GL Assessment CAT 4 Digital Demo site by clicking on the link below. It demonstrates tests which are set out in a similar way to the ISEB Common Pre-Tests and contains examples of verbal and non-verbal reasoning questions. 11+ Practice Papers, commonly available in book shops, contain similar examples. To see the GL digital demonstration, click here.