Parents often ask us whether we can help them prepare their children for UK boarding school pre-tests.
What are they?
These tests were first introduced by Eton College almost ten years ago. Where Eton leads, other schools tend to follow. A reaction to the growing number of candidates applying for each place, they are designed to help schools screen prospective applicants one to three years in advance of their actual entrance examinations. The purpose of the tests is to understand potential, rather than just pure academic ability.
Although some schools still set paper-based pre-tests, most schools have moved their tests to computerised versions to ease the administration of setting and marking them. Most of these computerised pre-tests are designed by the Centre for Evaluating and Monitoring (CEM) at the University of Durham. GL Assessment is also popular.
As far as we are aware, the CEM and other organisations adapt their suite of tests for each school. Schools can either buy an “off-the-shelf” package or design tests that are more bespoke to their needs. All of the tests of which we are aware have a mixture of Reading, Maths (or Numerical / Quantitative Reasoning), Verbal Reasoning, Non Verbal Reasoning, Spatial Reasoning and Logic. Most of the tests offer multiple choice questions, answered by clicking a mouse rather than typing an answer.
How can you prepare?
It is important to say that preparing for pre-tests is not like preparing for other exams such as Common Entrance. There is no syllabus of content, and we would never encourage “direct preparation” for the test. The tests are, after all, designed to test for potential.
The tests themselves, we believe, can also be adaptive; it’s unlikely that two students will receive the same test. As a result, Keystone’s recommended programme is, at best, only a close approximation to the tests. Our tutors should prepare students to be supple and adaptable test-takers so that they can hopefully cope with whatever the tests throw at them. We place our chief emphasis on the areas that can be taught and learnt, in other words the core, foundational areas of English and Maths appropriate to the age-group.
There is a demo test here.
Here at Keystone, we offer tutorials for the pre-tests. Schools release limited information on pre-tests and regularly change their format. Therefore, Keystone’s pre-test preparation will entail a thorough review of the 11+ curriculum. Where appropriate, we will tailor this as far as possible to the specific tests (e.g. computerised versus past papers).
For students who are sitting computerised pre-tests at 11+, Keystone offers students (aged 8-11) a mock computerized assessment covering Developed Ability, Maths, Reading and Spelling. Included in the assessment is detailed feedback of the student's level in each area. To schedule a test, please get in touch with the Keystone office.
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