Life after the ISEB Common Pre-Test

Nov 25, 2022

First and foremost, we would like to congratulate all children who sat the ISEB Common pre-test this year. It can be such a stressful process for all involved – especially parents! Everyone can now take a momentary sigh of relief.

In this article, we want to run you through the next steps, whether or not you receive an offer from your top senior school selections.

What happens next?

The ISEB Common pre-test is under new management this year, with Century Tech taking over duties from GL assessment. However, when it comes to providing results back to students, it remains the same: students are not provided with any scores. Parents will simply hear directly from the senior schools.

Each school varies in their admissions process, but generally follow some combination of English, Maths & Reasoning tests, as well as interviews, individual and, increasingly, group. We cannot provide details for every school in this newsletter, so please get in touch if you are after anything specific. Below are the processes of three top boarding schools:

  • Eton: Successful students will have to take the Eton List test and an interview at Eton. The Eton List test will test problem solving, cognitive and reasoning skills through English, maths and reasoning questions, as well as puzzles and memory questions. Be aware in the English section, students may have to type a paragraph. An interview is also held on the same day.
  • Harrow: Stage 2 of the Harrow admissions process doesn’t start until September of Year 7, so lots of waiting for this one. CEM have been commissioned to provide a computerised Harrow Test in English and maths; there is no NVR and VR tested. The test is 60 minutes long (30 minutes for each subject). Then students have a 30-minute classroom-based group activity; and have two 15-minute interviews, one with a House Master and another with a Senior Master. Please note they have removed the requirement to take written tests.
  • Marlborough: All students are asked back to attend an assessment day early next term. On the day there are two short writing tasks – previously these have included writing about a picture and writing about yourself – an interview with a Housemaster or Housemistress, an interview with a boarding house tutor and some informal group activities. Students also have to fill out a questionnaire about their interests which they will be quizzed on.
Eton College

What if we don’t get any offers?

The first rule is: don’t panic. Over the years, we have experienced families getting rejected from their senior schools multiple times before being offered a place, as well as families whose children are now happy in schools that weren’t on their original list. It is, however, a dispiriting time, so here are our tips on how to approach this challenge.

  1. Speak to your headmaster. Many have strong relationships with senior school leadership and there may be a way to get you on a waiting list.
  2. If on the waiting list, be patient. The most able students would have signed up for multiple schools. Obviously, they can only join one, so the other places become available.
  3. Consider alternatives. There are many inspiring schools around the country, so make sure to explore your options. With the most popular schools so overcrowded, many other schools have seriously upped their standards over recent years. Do give us a call and we can help.
  4. Form a relationship with the admissions team. If they are able to spot your name, and know that your child would make a positive contribution to the school, they are more likely to offer you a place. Letters of recommendation from current families can also support your case.

At Clarendon, we would be delighted to help you prepare for the next steps so do get in touch if we can help.