Common Entrance Science Syllabus
The Common Entrance (CE) syllabus is determined by the Independent Schools Examination Board (ISEB) and can be found on the ISEB website. At 11+, it is expected that content in the National Curriculum for KS1 has been covered, and the majority of KS2. At 13+, both KS1 and KS2 are assumed prior knowledge.
Summarising the year 5 and 6 recommended programme of study, at 11+ pupils are expected to:
- Plan experiments involving variables
- Record and measure data
- Draw conclusions and discuss results, using them to predict related outcomes
Be familiar with living things and their habitats:
- Describe life cycles and life processes
- Classify living things into groups based on characteristics
- Identify the circulatory system
- Describe how nutrients are transported within animals and plants
Recognise the impact of evolution and inheritance:
- Understand what fossils can tell us
- Be familiar with inheritance and adaptations
Explain how we see things:
- Know that light appears to travel in straight lines
- Explain that we see things because light travels or is reflected into our eye
Identify an electric circuit and the components:
- Know that increasing voltage increases brightness of a lamp or volume of a buzzer
Understand properties of materials:
- Classify materials as soluble, transparent, conductive etc
- Know the differences between solids liquids and gases
- Explain processes such as evaporation and filtration
- Understand why certain materials are used for certain functions given their physical properties
Describe Earth and Space:
- Describe the movement of planets relative to the sun, and the moon relative to earth
- Understand the rotation of the Earth
Explain and identify forces:
- The effects of resistance
- How levels and pulleys allow a smaller force to have a greater effect
Please note that topics covered in previous years are also required. For detail on the 13+ curriculum, do look at the ISEB specification.
Where do I find Common Entrance Science Past Papers?
At 11+, the ISEB CE paper is one combined science paper lasting 60 minutes. At 13+, the papers are split into Biology, Chemistry and Physics lasting 40 minutes each. Most schools use the ISEB CE papers, while some set their own exams. If you are unsure what your child will be sitting, take a look at the entrance information pages for the specific schools. Past ISEB papers can be purchased through the ISEB website, with a few free specimen papers too. Galore Park also has a selection of textbooks and papers to purchase, alongside a further selection at CGP, including online practice and flashcards. You can also find some free papers online with a google search.
If the school sets their own paper then the school’s website often will have a few papers that will be free to download, potentially after a quick registration of interest. The ISEB papers will still be excellent practice, even if your child is not sitting that specific exam. Likewise, using other school’s practice papers will provide extra practice even if your child is not taking that specific entrance exam.
What is the pass mark for Common Entrance Science?
There is no set pass mark for the CE exams, and different schools look for different grades. For the most selective schools your child should be aiming for 70% and above.
How can you help your child at home with Common Entrance Science?
Common Entrance is usually the first time your child will have to take a formal exam, so it is important to recognise that this may be a very stressful time for them (and you!). Take the time to talk them through exactly what they will expect on the day and emulate exam conditions at home with past papers and worksheets under timed conditions.
Often pupils forget to learn the content, so helping your child learn things through verbal tests or the use of flashcards can be very useful. Sites like Atom Learning are incredibly useful for Science CE.
It is also helpful for children to expand their knowledge within Science. If you can, head to the British Science Museum and find some things to spark an interest. The interactive Wonderlab exhibition is absolutely fantastic and covers a whole host of concepts making for some great conversations. There’s a bubble demonstration, a Tesla coil where you can see lightning being generated, and a slide to explain friction.
You can also plan valuable experiments at home, helping your child find ways to answer scientific questions. Talk about what things you must control to keep it a fair test and change the variables to get a bigger or smaller outcome. Discuss what you can observe, what you could do to make the experiments better, and how you can record your data.
The most important thing is to help your child feel confident with the exams as it can be incredibly daunting experience.
Top Tips for the Common Entrance Science exam
Tips for the Common Entrance Science can be applied to any other exam:
- Try not to leave the question blank.
- Too often pupils are nervous to get something wrong and don’t put anything down, meaning so many potential marks are lost. This point is so important to emphasise!
- The same goes for showing workings for any calculations – if the answer ends up wrong, they could still score points for showing a correct method.
- Help your child understand the command words used. Describe and explain require different responses, so it is important your child recognises this.
- Read the question carefully! Use highlighters and underline key terms.
- Practice time management – if half your time has gone and you are not halfway through the paper then practice allocating your time between each question.
- Finally, take deep breaths and pauses in between questions if it starts to get too stressful
Common Entrance Science Tutors
Keystone Tutors have a number of highly experienced Common Entrance Science tutors who can help with Common Entrance preparation, wherever you are in the world.
Read more about our Common Entrance Science tutors.
For more details on how Keystone can help prepare your child for Common Entrance Science, please call the office for a chat with one of our client managers, or contact us via our request a tutor form.