What is the Common Entrance?

The Common Entrance is set by the Independent Schools Examinations Board (ISEB). If the examinations are taken in Year 8 (as they typically are), they are designated ‘13+’. However, there is another type of Common Entrance which is 11+. This is designed for students moving to a new school for Year 7. 11+ and 13+ Common Entrance differ in that the 11+ consists of 4 exams: two on English, one on maths, and one on science, while the 13+ is a full set of examinations, generally with one for each subject the student has studied at school in Year 8. As such, a typical 13+ set of Common Entrance exams may consist of:

  • 2 English papers
  • 3 Maths papers (mental, calculator and non-calculator, combined into one overall result)
  • History paper
  • Geography paper
  • Science paper (or individual science papers in Physics, Chemistry and Biology)
  • Religious Studies paper
  • Foreign Language paper (French, Spanish, German or Mandarin)
  • Ancient Language paper (Latin or Classical Greek)

When is Common Entrance taken?

The Common Entrance can be sat at three times in the year: January, June and November. Most students sit Common Entrance in June, at the end of their school year.

What is the difference between Common Entrance and 11+?

The Eleven Plus (11+) is another type of examination used in some UK schools, taken at the end of primary school for entrance into secondary school. This means that the exam is sat at the end of Year 6, for entrance to Year 7.

This makes it similar in timing to the Common Entrance 11+ (discussed above), however, they are different in terms of content and use. The non-CE 11+ is used by different, usually state-run schools, and its content includes English, Maths, Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning. Therefore, unlike Common Entrance, it tests students on some things that are not directly covered by the school curriculum (the reasoning sections).

It is very important that, if you are told your child must sit ‘11+’, you find out which one, so as to ensure your child is properly prepared and you can request help where necessary.

What resources are there for helping with Common Entrance?

There are lots of books designed to teach students the content of the Common Entrance exams, which are used by schools. Past exam papers are also released to the public and can be found online as well as revision guides etc. There are lots of these resources and topics to learn, so if your child is struggling, seeking advice and extra tuition may help your child to excel.