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We offer Common Entrance (CE) English examinations at 11+ and 13+, as well as a scholarship (CASE) examination at 13+. Our English specification has been developed by a team of setters made up of experienced and dedicated Heads of Department approved by ISEB’s Academic Committee for Humanities.

Our English syllabus promotes the enjoyment of reading and writing, the value of collaboration and discussion, and a mastery of a range of skills that develop an appreciation of the writer’s craft and the pupil’s own expression through oral and written articulation, as well as a critical response to literature. 

While we do not provide any specific reading lists for any of our English exams, we recommend that candidates be encouraged to read as widely as possible. To aid this, we have included within the specification information about an additional ISEB Reading Certificate designed to encourage good habits of sustained wider reading in Years 7 and 8. The certificate makes formal acknowledgement of commitment to reading across a range of cultures, periods and literary forms and is designed to extend pupils’ experience of different genres. Full details are available on page 12 of the CE English specification. 

English for CE at 11+

Candidates taking CE English at 11+ will sit two papers, one in Comprehension and one in Composition. 

English for CE at 13+

We offer the CE English exam at both Foundation and Core levels, and we encourage prep schools to liaise with senior schools about which level pupils should sit. Candidates taking CE English at 13+ will sit two papers, one for Reading and one for Writing. For the Reading paper, candidates may take either Core Reading, or a Foundation Reading paper, which is designed for students developing the skills and vocabulary required for the Core level. All candidates must take the Writing paper. 

English for CASE at 13+

The CASE assessment for English is designed to challenge the most able students at 13+ in close analysis and interpretation of literary texts. Candidates taking the CASE English assessment will sit one paper. 

See the English specification below for further details.


New English CE/CASE specification (for first teaching from September 2021)

PDF 1.43 MB

English CE at 13+ specimen papers

ZIP 2.28 MB

CPD: English CE at 13+ Twilight Session (2021)

PDF 2.1 MB

ISEB Reading Certificate

PDF 246.06 KB


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