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Common Pre-Tests (CPT)

Our popular Common Pre-Tests (CPT) are online and adaptive, and are designed to give senior schools information about prospective pupils’ attainment and potential, to support the application process. They are usually taken when a pupil is in Year 6 or Year 7, and include four tests; mathematics, English (reading comprehension and grammar), verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning. The four tests can be taken together or at separate times, either in the pupils’ own school or at the senior school they are applying to.  The four tests take approximately 2 hours 30 minutes to complete.

The ISEB Common Pre-Tests are a ‘shared assessment’ which provides a set of four online entrance assessments that a wide range of senior schools accept, allowing pupils to sit the tests once and have their results shared with all of the senior schools they have applied to.


The ISEB Common Pre-Tests

What are the benefits of a shared assessment?

Wellbeing: Pupils applying to multiple schools only need sit the tests once and their results are shared with all the senior schools. This means that they do not have to miss lesson time to sit separate tests or prepare for a range of differing tests.  

Results: Pupils anywhere in the UK and overseas can sit the ISEB Common Pre-Tests, meaning senior schools can make comparisons across all applicants. Senior schools are able to compare results from all of their applicants, no matter where or when they sat the tests, as they are ‘common’ to all pupils. The results are standardised against a sample of pupils applying for independent school admission, giving consistency across each cohort of pupils.

Flexibility: The tests can be taken anytime between October and June of that academic year. Senior schools can set their deadlines to ensure they see the results in time and if they do have late applicants who have already sat the Common Pre-Tests they do not need to make additional testing arrangements. If a late applicant has not already sat the Common Pre-Tests, this can be arranged and, as the results are age-standardised, they can be compared with the rest of the cohort.


Our Common Pre-Tests are designed to give senior schools information about prospective pupils’ attainment and potential. Senior schools can use the tests for entry into Year 7, or for deferred entry into Year 9.  Find out more about the features of the tests and how they are administered.


Families with pupils applying to senior schools may be required to take our Common Pre-Tests as part of their admissions process. Find out more about what parents and guardians need to know about supporting children with the tests.

"We have found the ISEB Pre-Tests to be a really child-friendly and effective way of pre testing pupils. We have great links with the senior schools who buy the Pre-Tests and they are easy to organise in our ICT suites. They are demanding yet do not totally faze the children. It also means no stressful trips to senior schools. If only every school used them..."

Adrian Downie

Director of Studies, Ashfold School

"At Headington we have been impressed with the accuracy and level of fine detail that the Pre-Tests provides us with. We have been particularly delighted with the flexibility and ease of arrangements of taking the tests and Prep schools have been increasingly keen to work with us on a time frame that is mutually convenient to both schools."

Caroline Jordan

Headmistress, Headington School


Visit our dedicated support hubs for information, guidance and advice on our examinations and assessments, tailored to schools, teachers and families.

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