What is the difference between Common Entrance and Schools' own papers?

If I had a pound for every time parents had asked me to explain the difference between Common Entrance (11+/13+) and schools' own papers, I would have a nice little pot of savings! So here we go:

1: Common Entrance is an examination created by the ISEB (Independent Schools' Examination Board). The exam is available for a board range of subjects and different levels are available (maths has three for example). Individual schools decide: which papers candidates should sit and, the level required.

You need to check requirements with the school (ask for subjects/levels). Registration is done through the ISEB website.

Schools are provided with a suggested marking scheme but some adapt to suit their needs (e.g. rewards for correct spelling/forgiveness of incorrect spelling)

Depending on the selectivity of the school, Common Entrance could be used to confirm an offer or just for setting purposes.

Common Entrance can be sent to ONE school. The only way that it can be used for a second application is if your child is unsuccessful with school A and they then send the papers to school B.

THUS... if you are applying to two schools which use Common Entrance, you need to make a decision!

Common Entrance is taken in Spring (mainly for girls' schools) and Summer. Check the timetable online as dates do change.

2: Schools' own papers are written by the schools themselves and tend to be of a similar level but are often designed for students whose schools do not prepare for Common Entrance. Eton, for example offer their own papers for students from state schools who are following the National Curriculum.

Typically English, Maths and possibly Science are required.

Most of our HK students fall into this bracket. Benenden, for example, offers an option of Common Entrance/own papers which is very welcome to overseas students.

Some schools are extremely helpful and provide past papers or guidelines which parents and teachers can use to prepare. If in doubt, ask!

Schools set their own timetables for exams - for example, Tonbridge is in November for our students, Winchester is in May.

For more information about the Common Entrance Syllabus: https://www.iseb.co.uk/

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