Founded in 1619 by Edward Alleyn, Dulwich College is a boys’ selective day and boarding school in London. Dulwich has a strong global brand with 11 outposts in other countries, including China, South Korea and Singapore. While it is certainly a very academically selective school, it also fosters an inclusive educational and social environment, and partners closely with its sister school James Allen’s Girls’ School. Dulwich College educates 1,633 students and has three entrance points, in Year 7, Year 9 and Year 12.
How to get into Dulwich College
Entering in Year 7 (11 Plus):
Dulwich College accepts 70 pupils each year into Year 7. In addition, boys from Dulwich Junior School move up into Year 7, making a year group total of around 125 boys.
Dulwich College uses entrance exams to select those pupils who will gain a place. They use a 2-stage process, with pupils being selected to move to the next stage based on their relative performance.
Stage 1 - English, Mathematics, Verbal, Non-verbal and Spatial Reasoning Examinations - All applicants will be invited to sit these tests in December of the year prior to entry.
Stage 2 - 160 boys are invited back for interviews in January of the year of entry. Results are released in February.
Entering in Year 9 (13 Plus):
Dulwich accepts 85 boys each year into Year 9. In addition, 125 boys join the year group from the Lower School, making a total of around 210 boys. 60 of these places are given to boys who sit the ISEB pre-test when they are in Year 6 at prep schools. The remaining 25 places are given to boys who sit Dulwich College’s own examinations when they are in Year 8.
Boys who are at UK prep schools are eligible to apply for the deferred entry route. There are 60 places available. The school uses a 2-stage process, with pupils being selected to move to the next stage based on their relative performance.
Stage 1 is the ISEB Common Pre-Test, usually sat between 1st October and 30th November of the autumn term of Year 6, which is a computerised test consisting of English, Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. Do read our blog to find out more about the ISEB Common Pre-Tests. The results of the ISEB Pre-Test are reviewed in conjunction with a reference from the student’s Prep School.
Read more about the ISEB Common Pre-Test
Stage 2 - Successful applicants (140 boys) will be invited to an interview and will sit a 20-minute English composition test and will be asked one or two Mathematics questions during their interview. The interview usually takes place in late January / early February of Year 6. Conditional offers are released in February of Year 6.
25 places are held back to allow for late applications. The deadline is November in the year before entry. Written papers in English and Mathematics and online Reasoning tests are taken in January of the year of entry. 40 boys are then invited back for interview in early February with offers released later in February.
Specimen papers can be found here.
Are Dulwich College’s own tests difficult?
As with all entrance tests, the tests are designed to challenge and stretch applicants. Both tests are paper-based and typically sat one after the other. In previous years they have included the following:
English: In the past, applicants have been asked to complete a prose comprehension and a piece of creative writing. The texts have been considered challenging for a range of reasons:
- Composition: The texts chosen have often been particularly challenging passages which include a lot of dialogue and/or have included advanced use of vocabulary and writer’s technique.
- Questions: Generally, there are few literal questions, and most questions are inference-based and require longer answers including points and evidence in the form quotes and analysis. Alongside writer’s technique questions, candidates are also asked about their personal response to the text.
Maths: The Maths paper mainly covers the KS2 Curriculum, it does involve some more advanced extension questions. Most questions are written answers with no multiple choice, often the most challenging question type in Maths.
What questions does Dulwich College ask at interview?
Like many school interviews the Dulwich College interview seeks to explore the following about each student:
- Family (e.g. What do you like to do on the weekend as a family?)
- School (e.g. What do you most enjoy about your current school?)
- Academic Learning (e.g. What is your favourite subject and why?)
- Reading (e.g. Do you enjoy reading?)
- Extracurricular (e.g. What activities do you get involved in at school outside of the classroom?)
- Hobbies (e.g. What do you do in your spare time at outside of school?)
- Dulwich College (e.g. Why would you like to come to Dulwich College?)
Entering Dulwich College in Year 12 (Sixth Form Entry):
40 new boys join Dulwich College in Year 12. The vast majority of these are international boarders who join the boys moving up from Year 11, making a year group of around 250 students, divided into 23 forms.
16 Plus Entrance Process:
16 Plus Assessment Day
Boarding applicants at schools in the UK sit entrance examinations at Dulwich College in November of the year prior to entry. Applicants for day places sit entrance examinations at Dulwich College in January of year of entry.
Applicants sit entrance examinations in the subjects that they want to study at A level. For some subjects (e.g. Theatre Studies, Art, Design & Technology) assessment is by interview. Those who are not native speakers will also be required to sit an English test.
The Assessment Day takes place at Dulwich College on a Saturday in the early part of November (Year 11). All candidates sit the Dulwich College Standard Tests in English, Mathematics (Arithmetic) and then two 45-minute papers in subjects of their own choice. Candidates are interviewed by a senior member of staff and will have the opportunity to spend time with some current pupils. Offers are released on 1 December.
Read more about Sixth form entry and the 16 plus exam.
Entering Dulwich via a Scholarship
Academic Scholarships are available for entry to the Junior School (Year 3), Lower School (Year 7) and Middle School (Year 9). They are awarded to those boys who perform exceptionally well and score the highest grades in their examination and interview. All boys who sit the entrance examinations are automatically considered for an academic scholarship; Scholarships are not means-tested. Scholarships range in value from 10% to one third of tuition fees.
Find out more information about the Dulwich College 13 plus scholarships.
Is there a 16 plus scholarship?
There are no 16 plus academic scholarships. Music and Sport scholarships are available at 16 plus.
Does Dulwich College offer any other scholarships?
For 11 plus entry the school offers scholarships for Music.
For 13 plus entry scholarships are available for Art, Music and Sport and at 16 plus they offer Music and Sports scholarships.
Read more about Dulwich College scholarships.
Overseas Applicants to Dulwich College
The school welcomes applications from boys who are at school overseas for day or boarding places. Boys can apply for day places for Year 7 and Year 9. Boarding places are available for Year 9 and a small number of boarding places are available for Year 10. Entrance and examination procedures differ slightly for each year group.
Most boarders join in Year 9 and a small number of places are available for joining in Year 10. Entrance examinations for boarders at school outside the UK are generally held in October/November each year. Testing can be arranged after this if places are available. Examinations will be held in Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing and Seoul. Registered applicants will be notified of the dates and venues. It may also be possible to sit examinations at a British Council office or a location authorised by Dulwich College.
Boys applying for day places will follow the same entrance procedures and timetable as those boys in the UK. Dulwich interviews boys who are overseas by Zoom and testing takes place at a Dulwich College International school, the local British Council offices or a Dulwich College approved testing centre.
Overseas Sixth Form Applicants
Entrance examinations for overseas boarding candidates are held from mid-October onwards. Overseas testing will take place at a Dulwich College International school, the local British Council offices or a Dulwich College approved testing centre. Overseas boarding candidates who are at school in the UK will be invited to Dulwich College to sit the examinations in early November. Candidates will be tested in the subjects that they wish to study at A level and those whose first language is not English will also sit an EAL paper. Selected candidates will be invited for interview via Zoom, following the results of the examinations.
What is Dulwich College acceptance rate?
In Year 7, 300 boys are invited to take the assessments (after passing the reasoning screening tests) and 70 boys are awarded places making the acceptance rate 23%.
In Year 9, 140 boys are invited for interview (after passing the ISEB pre-test screening) and 85 are awarded a place making the acceptance rate for the boys who passed the ISEB pre-test 59%.
Why is Dulwich College so popular?
While Dulwich has a very good reputation academically, students also excel in sport and the arts making it a fantastic all-round school. In 2020, results were awarded through Teacher Assessed Grades with 63% achieving A*/A grades at A Level. Similarly, at GCSE 84% achieved Grade 9-7. Boys proceed from Dulwich to the most competitive of universities, in the UK and in the world, and thereafter into all the major professions.
They sent 19 boys to Oxbridge in 2019 and increasing more boys choose to study in the USA.
The school’s arts, music and co-curricular are truly outstanding and it has a long-standing reputation for producing some of the finest actors, musicians, sportsmen and writers in the country.
Dulwich is just 12-minutes from central London by train but still boasts a 70-acre site with excellent facilities that support both the boys’ formal studies and their activities outside the classroom. The Headmaster, Dr Joseph Spence is very popular with parents and has restored Dulwich’s academic edge as well as pioneering a plan to fund means-tested bursaries for up to 50 per cent of their students.
Is Dulwich College hard to get into?
Owing to its academic and international reputation and success as well as it’s attractive location in London, Dulwich College attracts a lot of applications and a such the entrance process at 13 plus and 16 plus are very competitive. Consequently, the school can afford to be selective.
Famous Alumni of Dulwich College
- Graham Swift
- PG Wodehouse
- Michael Ondaatje (poet).
Tutors for Dulwich College School Entrance
Keystone has over a decade of experience providing tuition to families who wish to send their children to some of the leading UK independent schools including Dulwich College.
The tutors we work with are experienced in the intricacies of the 13 plus common entrance, the ISEB pre-test and 16 plus entrance to Dulwich College.
For more details on how Keystone can help with preparation for entry to Dulwich College, please complete our online form or call the office for a chat with one of our client managers.