The age old common entrance exam is still insisted upon by many of the UK’s independent schools for 11+ and 13+ entry. The 11+exams tends to comprise English, Maths and Science whilst the 13+ comprises of ten subjects (Maths, English, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geography, History, Religious Studies, Latin, French/Spanish/ German/Mandarin).
The full syllabus for each subject is available online as are practice papers and revision materials. Preparation should cover curriculum gaps as they arise and focus on Common Entrance exam technique. Children who do well in these exams are those who have acquired age-appropriate skills and subject knowledge alongside the ability to apply their knowledge. Schools are looking for students who can apply what they have learnt, evaluate, interpret and analyse.
It is worth noting that the 13+ syllabus is split into two levels, 1 and 2, with Level 1 questions generally being more accessible. Level 3 is also available in Maths and Latin only. Level 3 requires a more sophisticated appreciation of the syllabus as well as understanding of some additional topics, which are clearly marked in the syllabus.
Alongside revision of the syllabus, we recommend practising the following:
- Past papers (available from Galore Park)
- Problem solving questions (UK Maths Junior Challenge, NRICH Maths)
- Comprehension and creative writing (Galore Park, Schofield & Simms – 11+ only)
It is worth noting that Winchester has its own exam called the Winchester Election. Whilst these papers are based on the 13+ common entrance syllabus, it is known to be more demanding and therefore boys need to be prepared to a higher level.
If your child is up for Scholarship, they will either sit the Common Academic Scholarship Exams or the senior school’s own scholarship exams instead of Common Entrance. Scholarship exams are usually sat in March or April, long before Common Entrance which takes place in June. Scholarships papers to Eton, Winchester and Westminster are known to be particularly challenging and they will give credence to those students who show a greater level of understanding and unique fluency in essay writing.
Almost all schools have scholarship past papers on their website and it is worth practising with these as much as possible.
Advice to students in Singapore sitting Common Entrance
Students from international or local schools in Singapore are often only required to sit English, Maths and Science Common Entrance Papers (always check this on the school website). Whilst your child should be familiar with much of the 13+ syllabus, there are likely to be gaps, and often exam technique needs work. Our Common Entrance tutors bring past papers and other resources to Singapore via our online interactive whiteboard which they edit, annotate and highlight in real time leaving students with excellent resources for revision and homework. Regularly working with students who gain entry to a wide range of UK boarding schools means our tutors know the academic level expected by different schools, as well as the nuances between their entry exams.