Eton is one of the United Kingdom’s best known and most prestigious independent schools, founded in 1440 AD by King Henry VI, and famous for having educated many British politicians, scientists, and creative talents. As such, the process of securing a place is highly competitive.
Keystone have collated the answers to many commonly asked questions about applying to Eton in the article below, including some first hand insights from Josh Pull, a Keystone Director and former Old Etonian.
Is there an entrance exam for Eton?
Yes, as an academically selective school Eton uses entrance exams to select which boys are suitable to gain a place. They use a 3 stage process, with boys being selected to move to the next stage based on their relative performance. The first two stages occur when the applicant is in year 6 after which conditional offers are made. Thereafter applicants will take the Common Entrance or Eton Scholarship in year 8.
- Stage 1 is the ISEB Common Pre-Test, which is a computerised test, sat during October or November in year 6, consisting of English, Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. Do read our blog to find our more about the ISEB Common Pre-Tests
- Stage 2 is Eton’s own test, also sat in year 6 and has two parts: an online test designed to assess a boy’s potential, and an interview
- If successful at Stage 2 a conditional offer is made and the final assessment stage takes place in Year 8 which depending on circumstances will be one of the Common Entrance, King’s Scholarship, or Eton’s own entrance examinations. Alternatively a boy may be placed on the waiting list and will be re-tested at the end of Year 7
Is it hard to get into Eton college?
Eton College is a highly selective school and therefore the admissions process is designed to select academically able boys. Eton has around 240 places at 13+ and usually receive over 1,300 applications, so there is a lot of competition.
How hard is the Eton entrance exam?
The ISEB Common Pre-Tests and the Eton Test are both online adaptive tests. This means the questions get more difficult the better a candidate does which increases their Standardised Age Score (SAS). As Eton is highly selective, the successful candidates will have a SAS score well above average and will have faced the more difficult questions in the tests.
Can you get a scholarship for Eton?
Yes, Eton offers scholarships for talented boys, however, these do not automatically come with any reduction of fees. Eton does offer (often significant) fee reductions via bursaries which are means-tested based on the family situation. At 13+ the most well-known scholarship is the King’s Scholarship which started in 1440 and is designed for academically very able boys. The examinations are challenging and boys sit 8 academic exam papers which include English, Maths, Science, Humanities and Languages. Additionally, there are Music scholarships for talented musicians to audition for. At 16+ the only scholarships available are for boys currently educated in the state system. These include the Orwell Award for all-round excellence and there is a Music and Drama award too.
Josh Pull, Keystone Director and old Etonian gives his insights into the history behind the Eton list test:
"When I applied to Eton in the mid-1990s many students didn’t have to sit the Eton list test in year 6 (instead only taking Common Entrance or the Eton Scholarship in year 8). Some applicants, including myself, did have to sit the Eton list test before getting a conditional offer, subject to passing Common Entrance. It was always something of a mystery to me as to which children had to sit the list test and which did not, and it was something of a lottery depending on when you were born and how many other applicants there were born at the same time.
Nowadays of course all applicants have to sit the test to ensure the application process is the same for everyone and to help narrow down higher volumes of candidates as applications began to increase in the late 1990s/early 2000s.
The assessment itself, interestingly given that it’s over 25 years ago, bares quite a bit of similarity to the test today. It combined a paper-based reasoning-type assessment that (you guessed it) was designed to assess underlying potential rather than prior knowledge as well as a short interview.
I still remember the interview itself and recall building up a good rapport with the interviewer. It was much more light-hearted and conversational as opposed to a formal interview. I think that still remains the case today: the interviewers are really looking to get to know who you are as a personality as opposed to test you or catch you out (which of course is more than sufficiently covered in the computerised tests!).
Hard as it is, do try to relax for the interview and see it as a chance for an interesting discussion rather than a part of the assessment process to be feared."
Tuition for The Eton List test
Each year Keystone supports many students preparing for school entrance exams, including The Eton List Test.
For more details on how Keystone can help with preparation for school entrance, please call the office for a chat with one of our client managers, or contact us via our request a tutor form.