UK Boarding Schools: Admissions Tests, Interviews, and How to Prepare

Common tests for UK boarding schools

Most UK boarding schools will require some sort of entrance test. The most common one for UK students is the Common Entrance. However, lots of schools also have their own entrance tests, involving a range of verbal, non-verbal and numerical reasoning. 

In addition to this, some schools use the UKISET (UK Independent Schools Entry Test) to measure the applicant’s intelligence and English Language ability. Students can take the UKISET outside the UK.

Visits to the schools

Independent schools in the UK almost always offer visits and tours for prospective pupils and their parents, especially if they’re from overseas. The school’s admissions service will usually set this up for you. A visit would give you a feel for the school, its facilities, and the local area. These visits can give your child a chance to see if they would really like to go to the school. Visit days can also incorporate any entrance tests that need to be done and the interview as well if required. 

At boarding schools, the visits will often revolve around the boarding houses. Most schools have a range of different houses in which the students will sleep and spend most of their free time. It is a good idea to look around multiple boarding houses during visits. This way, your child can decide which one they would prefer. The head of the house is called the housemaster or housemistress and this person will act as a parental figure for the child if they went to that house. Therefore, it is essential to pick a housemaster you like and who you think will provide a nice environment for the students.  

Interviews at UK boarding schools

Usually UK boarding schools will want to interview a potential student, especially if they are from overseas. This interview can take place at the school on a visit. It can also take place on the test day, if there is one. Interviewing online is also sometimes possible. 

The interview could be with the headmaster or with a housemaster. It should typically be 15-40 minutes long. Usually, this will be more of a conversation about the student’s interests rather than a formal interview.

To do well in an interview, the school would be looking for a high level of English ability, genuine interests, and a willingness to attend the school. 

Interview preparation can be helpful here, especially if your child is not very confident in English or has little interview experience. As always, the earlier you start preparation, the better.

How to prepare for boarding school admissions

Knowing which school is right for your child can be difficult. Navigating the admissions tests and interview process can be even more confusing sometimes. Therefore, an advisor with the expert knowledge and experience can guide your child throughout the process.

However, the most important thing is to prepare early for admissions. The admissions tests for schools, like Common Entrance, may be very different to what your child has done before. They may also contain non-verbal reasoning questions which are not covered by school curriculums.

Also, preparation for interviews and tackling the language change involved in going to a boarding school can be hard to navigate for children. This can be especially difficult for the students who do not have English as their first language. Therefore, starting your preparation early is essential. Whether that is research into what the school will ask for, or the test content and revision. Starting preparation as soon as possible will also highlight where your child is struggling and give more time to fix it, especially if a tutor or interview coach is involved.

If you feel you need more guidance on the process, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.