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The Common Entrance (CE) and Common Academic Scholarship (CASE) exams are a collection of paper-based assessments used to determine entrance to many of the leading senior schools in the UK.

Delivered at 11+ and most commonly at 13+ CE and CASE provide a varied and rich curriculum for prep and junior schools globally and have been used in the independent sector for over 100 years.

Discover the history of CE and the origins of ISEB at the start of the 20th century, or jump to the CE and CASE Admissions Toolkit for guidance and resources.

CE Registration

Registration for CE 13+ Spring 2024 is now closed

Registration for the Spring 2024 CE 13+ exam session is closed. If you need to register your child for this exam session, please submit a support ticket on our CE Support Portal and the team will be in touch to help.


What is CE?

History of CE

The Independent Schools Examinations Board (ISEB) was founded in 1903 to design and deliver a ‘common’ exam for entrance to independent senior schools, as it had been observed that children were often required to sit a vast number of different tests for entrance to different schools. 

In 1903, HMC, IAPS and GSA founded the then Common Entrance Committee to deliver the examinations, with the first exams taking place in the summer of 1904 with around 25 senior schools taking part. The subjects covered by CE have changed and developed over the last century.

When it was introduced in 1903 the CE curriculum covered:

  • English: grammar, composition and literature
  • French, grammar, composition and translation
  • Greek, grammar, composition and translation
  • Latin, grammar, composition and translation
  • Arithmetic, algebra and Geometry
  • English History and Geography

Scripture, now known as Theology, Philosophy and Religion, was introduced in the 1930s, with Mathematics introduced in 1954 and Science introduced in 1969.

The Common Entrance Committee for Girls was introduced following the Second World War. Exams were more regularly taken at 11+ and occasionally 12+ in comparison to traditional boys schools, which examined at 13+.

In 1990 the Common Entrance Committee and Committee for Girls were joined to form the Common Entrance Board, later known as ISEB, and delivered a coordinated curriculum and examination style for single-sex and co-educational schools. 

How is CE used today?

Today, CE exams are taken by students as part of their entrance applications to senior schools at 11+ or 13+. Pupils are usually entered for CE assessments when they have been offered a place at a senior school that is subject to passing the examinations, which are usually taken in the pupils’ current school.

Pupils at 11+ sit assessments in English, Mathematics and Science when they are in Year 6, usually for applications to girls’ schools. At 13+, pupils also sit assessments in these core subjects alongside papers selected from a wide range of humanities, languages and classical subjects.

How is CASE used today?

CASE exams were introduced in the 1990s to support schools in determining scholarship places based on academic ability and potential. Today, many independent schools have a wide variety of scholarship opportunities rewarding academic ability alongside important skills such as Music, Drama and Sport.

CASE acts as an additional set of exams that are taken by a student as part of this scholarship process and may be taken in all or just a few subjects. Not all students who sit CE will sit CASE exams.

Read an introduction to ISEB CE assessments written by Durell Barnes, our former Chair of the Board, and a well-known and highly-respected member of the UK’s independent education community.

Useful links

Explore our support resources and platforms for parents and guardians of pupils preparing for CE and CASE exams.

That as some schools already permit their entrance papers to be done under supervision at the preparatory schools. It is desirable in the interests of both classes of schools to co-operate for the establishment of some common form of entrance examination.

Rev Thomas Field, 1902

Educational reformer, and Warden of Radley College 1897-1913.

It would be a great help to the private schools to make examinations of one type, and they could do much in that direction ... The convenience to the Preparatory Schools would be simply enormous.

13th Headmasters Conference

22 December 1902, Tonbridge School

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