Founded in 1382 by William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester (who also founded New College, Oxford), this is one of the oldest schools in the world. The College is situated in the beautiful city of Winchester, and its buildings and grounds are outstanding. Academic standards are extremely high with boys achieving exceptional results. Winchester is a full-boarding school with a demanding extra-curricular programme, but despite this fast pace it is characterised as much by its consideration of individual needs as it is by collective endeavour.
The school began welcoming girls as day pupils to the sixth form in September 2022. Boys are currently welcomed as day or boarding pupils and girls’ boarding places will be available from September 2025. The admission of girls (and the increasing number of day pupils) will significantly increase the size of the sixth form. Over time the school plans to admit a minimum of 30 day pupils (approximately half of these will be girls) and up to 50 girl boarders into the sixth form.
How to get into Winchester College
Entering Winchester in Year 9 (13 plus):
Winchester accepts 140 boys each year into Year 9. Around 400 boys apply.
13 plus Entrance Process for Winchester College:
As an academically selective school Winchester uses entrance exams to select which pupils are suitable to gain a place. They use a 3-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 20th November of the autumn term of Year 6, which is a computerised test consisting of English, Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. The results of the ISEB Pre-Test are reviewed in conjunction with a reference from the student’s Prep School.
Stage 2 If your son is successful in the first stage, he will be invited back to Winchester for an interview in the spring term. In May, the Housemaster or Registrar will email you with the result of your son’s interview. If your son is successful, you will receive an offer letter from the Headmaster.
Stage 3 In April / May of Year 8, your son will be invited to sit either Election (Scholarship) or the Winchester Entrance exams. Election is taken over three days at Winchester. You will hear the results of Election by the end of that week. The Entrance exams are taken in your son's own school or at an approved centre. Your son’s results will be sent by email in May.
Entering Winchester via Election (Academic Scholarship)
Particularly bright children may be invited to take part in Election, the academic scholarship exam. Election is taken instead of the Winchester Entrance exam. It is a unique selection process involving both written examinations and interviews. Election typically takes place at the school over three days in the April or May of Year 8.
What does Success at Election Mean?
Those pupils who are successful at Election are awarded either:
- A Scholarship – pupils are offered a place in College, the oldest of the school’s boarding houses. On joining the school, they are known as Scholars and are distinct by the gowns they wear.
- An Exhibition – pupils are publicly recognised for their academic ability and accept their existing offer of a place in one of the school’s other boarding houses.
- Headmaster’s Nominations – an award where a pupil has not previously been offered a conditional place at the school or been successful in gaining an Academic Scholarship, but whose exam results are strong enough to gain a place in the school. He will subsequently be offered a place in one of the school’s boarding houses.
A Scholarship, Exhibition or Headmaster’s Nomination does not automatically carry a remission of school fees.
What to Expect in Election
Candidates from prep schools sit compulsory papers in English, Maths 1, Science and General Paper 1. They must also take at least three papers from the following subjects: Latin, French, Greek, History, Geography, Maths 2, and General Paper 2.
Is there a 16 plus scholarship for Winchester?
There is no academic scholarship available for 16 plus entry.
Does Winchester College offer any other scholarships?
Music and Sport scholarships are available at 13 plus and 16 plus. In addition, up to three Choral Scholarships and one Organ Scholarship are also available for 16 plus entrants only.
Are Winchester’s own tests difficult?
All candidates sit papers in English and Maths. All boys sitting Winchester Entrance and Election take a common English paper and Maths paper (Paper 1 in Election). Candidates from prep schools must also sit papers in Science, Geography and History. Where a candidate has studied Latin and/or French in prep school they must also undertake that exam. If a candidate has studied Spanish or German in place of French then they may choose to sit an alternative paper in that language. Candidates may also choose to sit the Greek paper.
As with all entrance tests, the Stage 3 tests are designed to challenge and stretch applicants. Tests are paper-based and typically sat one after the other. Specimen papers can be found here. In previous years they have included the following:
English: Applicants have been asked to demonstrate comprehension, using either poetry or prose. The texts have been considered challenging for a range of reasons:
- Length: They are often longer than the average 11 plus comprehension, requiring students to read quickly and accurately in the time allotted.
- Composition: The text chosen have often included a lot of dialogue and/or have included advanced use of vocabulary and writer’s technique.
- Questions: The majority of the marks in the English assessment are awarded for the more challenging reasoning or inference-based questions requiring boys to comment on writer’s technique or provide personal reflection/opinion.
Maths: The Maths paper has focused predominantly on Number related questions. Previous applicants have commented that the Maths is particularly challenging, even more so than that within the ISEB Common Pre-Test. The level of difficulty has been associated with:
- Topic Coverage: Although the Maths reportedly covers the 11 plus curriculum, it does delve into some extension level topics such as Algebra.
- Question Types: A lot of the questions are multistep requiring students work through each step before being able to move on to the next. Applicants have also commented that the majority of questions are word problems, often the most challenging question type in Maths.
What questions does Winchester College ask at interview?
Like many school interviews the Winchester 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?)
- Winchester College (e.g. Why would you like to come to Winchester College?)
Winchester interviews are also famed for being slightly more academic than most with students being asked academic questions in addition to those about themselves. In the past students have been asked to solve Mathematical problems and puzzles as well as read and analyse short pieces of text.
Entering Winchester in Year 12 (Sixth Form Entry):
Winchester has an intake of both boys and girls into Year 12.
Applications Forms must be submitted by October of the year prior to entry. Overseas candidates should arrange to sit UKiset assessment tests, ensuring that results are sent to the school by October. All applications are reviewed, and a shortlist drawn up. The school contacts all applicants via email, by the end of the October. If your son is shortlisted, you will be asked for payment of the £400 Registration Fee. The school will then invite your son to attend an interview and sit assessments at the school’s assessment day in November. Applicants are notified of the results on 1 December with the offers being conditional on GCSE grades.
Winchester College acceptance rate
In Year 9, around 400 boys apply for the 140 places available, an acceptance rate of 35%.
Why is Winchester College so popular?
Winchester College is highly regarded for their academic results and achievements. In 2023, 77.9% achieved A*/A at A-level. Similarly, at GCSE 88% achieved Grade 9-7. Boys go onto popular Russell Group universities such as UCL, Edinburgh, Imperial, Durham and LSE, but largest number by far go to Oxbridge, 31 in 2023. An increasing number attend premier US universities, e.g. Brown, Chicago, Columbia, Dartmouth, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, UNC, UPenn and Yale. Consequently, it attracts parents and students with high academic expectations. 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 Winchester College hard to get into?
Owing to its academic reputation and success Winchester attracts a lot of applications and a such the entrance process at 13+ and 16+ are very competitive. Consequently, the school can afford to be highly selective, and we have known of instances where strong applicants do not win places. It is important to go into the entrance process with an open and realistic frame of mind.
Famous Winchester Alumni
General Sir Nick Carter
George Mallory (mountaineer)
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