Founded in 1553, Tonbridge School is one of the oldest schools in the world. Academic standards are extremely high with boys achieving exceptional results. A full-boarding school, the extra-curricular programme can be demanding but despite this fast pace, Tonbridge is characterised as much by individual needs as by collective endeavour.
Entering Tonbridge School in Year 9 (13 Plus entry):
Tonbridge accepts 150 boys each year into Year 9. Around 400 boys apply.
13 Plus Entrance Process for Tonbridge School:
As an academically selective school Tonbridge uses entrance exams to select which pupils are suitable to gain a place.
Stage 1 is the ISEB Common Pre-Test, usually sat between 1st October and 30th November of the autumn term of Year 6. This is a computerised test consisting of English, Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. Candidates will also visit Tonbridge for an assessment afternoon during the Autumn Term of Year 6. Your child’s school report, along with the results from the ISEB pre-test and the assessment afternoon are considered together in determining how to proceed with the application.
Read more about the ISEB Common Pre-test.
Stage 2 All boys who have completed their assessment in the Autumn Term of Year 6 should expect to receive their offer towards the end of January in Year 6. Those candidates with the strongest profile will receive an unconditional offer of a place at Tonbridge, usually dependent only upon them continuing at their current school through to the end of Year 8 and a satisfactory final report from their school. Other candidates who present a sufficiently strong profile will receive a provisional offer of a place, inviting them to take part in a further competitive assessment which they will complete at Tonbridge during Spring of Year 7. The assessment will consist of a mathematics paper, a writing paper and a short interview.
View specimen papers and a syllabus for the mathematics paper of the Year 7 Entrance Exam for those holding provisional offers.
Tonbridge will also request an updated report from a boy's current school.
Entering Tonbridge School in Year 12 (Sixth Form Entry):
Tonbridge has an intake of 12-15 boys into Year 12.
16 Plus Entrance Process for Tonbridge School:
The application deadline is 1st September for all boys applying from overseas schools and 1st October for boys applying from UK schools. Overseas candidates should also arrange to sit the UKiset assessment. The Director of Admissions will review all applications once they are complete, with shortlisted applicants being invited to examination and interview.
16 Plus Assessment Day
Examinations will be set by Tonbridge and completed by each candidate in their four chosen Sixth Form subjects in November (Year 11). All candidates, including those who are British and native English speakers, will also be required to sit an English Language paper. Specimen papers can be viewed on their exam papers page. Papers can be taken either at Tonbridge or at a British Council office around the world or possibly at another approved international location. Candidates living or studying in the UK will be interviewed at Tonbridge on the day of the exams; candidates living overseas, who are able to attend interviews in Hong Kong, Shanghai or Singapore, will be invited to do so in advance of the exams; other international candidates will be interviewed via Skype.
Entering Tonbridge School via an Academic Scholarship
Up to 21 academic scholarships are awarded each year to boys in Year 8 who will join the school at 13 plus. The 13 plus academic Scholarship Examination is held at the school over three days at the beginning of May. Specimen papers can be found here.
Is there a 16 plus scholarship?
Honorary Academic Scholarships may be awarded to candidates who perform at a very high level in the Sixth Form Entrance Examinations. Music scholarships are also offered at 16 plus entry.
Read more information on 16 plus scholarships for Tonbridge.
Does Tonbridge School offer any other scholarships?
Music, Sport, Art and Design, Technology and Engineering scholarships are also available at 13 plus entry.
What questions does Tonbridge School ask at interview?
Like many school interviews the Tonbridge School 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?)
- Tonbridge School (e.g. Why would you like to come to Tonbridge School?)
Why is Tonbridge School so popular?
Tonbridge School is highly regarded for their academic results and achievements. In 2021, results were awarded through Teacher Assessed Grades with 87% A* or A at A level / Pre-U. Similarly, at GCSE 95% achieved Grade 9-7. Boys go onto popular Russell Group universities such as, St Andrews, Durham, Bristol, Warwick, Imperial and UCL. 22 boys received offers from Oxbridge. Consequently, it attracts parents and students with high academic expectations. It is known to be a modern, forward-thinking school compared to other traditional boys’ boardings schools. The school recently rolled out a new Sixth Form curriculum which was inspired by the most valuable skills for the future as identified by the World Economic Forum, which includes critical thinking and creativity. Tonbridge also has a long tradition of sporting excellence with outstanding sporting facilities.
In our experience, prospective applicants with the following qualities have been competitive candidates in the school’s admissions process:
- an excellent academic record to date
- an enquiring mind and genuine passion for learning
- an ability to think critically about their learning
- an academic confidence and ability to work independently
Is Tonbridge School hard to get into?
Owing to its academic reputation and success Tonbridge 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 highly selective. It is important to go into the entrance process with an open and realistic frame of mind.
Famous Tonbridge School Alumni
- EM Forster
- Cricketer Colin Cowdrey
Tutors for Tonbridge 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 Tonbridge School.
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 Tonbridge School.
For more details on how Keystone can help with preparation for entry to Tonbridge School, please call the office for a chat or complete our request a tutor form.