So your child is approaching secondary school age, and you think you might like to switch to an independent school or a grammar school. How do you get in?


Schools usually require you to register in advance for taking their entrance exams, as well as charging a non-refundable application fee. The registration deadlines and fees vary by school. Here are a few samples which were correct on 27/06/16.


For entry at the age of 13, boys must be registered by the age of 10½. The application fee is £315.

St Paul's Girls' School

For 11+ entry in September 2017 the application deadline for all paperwork is Friday 11 November 2016. The application fee is £125.

Sevenoaks School

For 11+ and 13+ entry the deadline is one full year prior to entry, so the deadline for September 2017 is September 2016. The application fee is £100 for day applicants and £200 for boarding.

Entrance Exams

The most common entrance points to secondary school are age 11 (year 7) or age 13 (year 9). These exams are referred to as the 11+ or 13+ respectively and are taken in the preceding school year. Schools occasionally offer additional entry points at slightly different ages, such as 10+ or 12+. For some schools, your child may also need to take a pre-test up to three years beforehand.

i)                The 11+

This exam is taken if your child plans to transfer into the school in Year 7 (age 11 - 12).  It is sat in year 6, nearly always in January. Your child will be aged 10 or 11.  The exams are almost always include a Mathematics paper, an English paper, and may include reasoning or, rarely, science. The exams are usually set individually by the school, but some schools may use the 11+ Common Entrance created by ISEB, and many girls’ schools in London use a collective paper known as the London Consortium.  Read more about the 11+ here.

ii)               The 13+

This exam is taken if your child plans to transfer into the school in Year 9 (age 13 - 14), and will be sat in Year 8. The term “13+” may refer to either the Common Entrance exam or a school’s individually set entrance exam. A body called the ISEB sets the Common Entrance exam, and students are tested in “the core subjects [of English, Maths and Science], alongside papers selected from a wide range of humanities, languages and classical subjects.” (ISEB website) Schools' private entrance exams usually just include English, Mathematics and Reasoning tests, but may include science, humanities or languages as well. Read more about the 13+ here.

iii)              The “pre-test”

This usually comprises a verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning test, and may include a mathematics and English component.  It is usually computerised, which makes it quick and easy for schools to mark. It may be taken in Year 6 in advance of the 11+ exam or in Year 6, 7, or 8 as a precursor to the 13+ exam. Read more about pre-tests here.


Schools will nearly always want to interview their applicants after they have passed the battery of tests mentioned above. The interviews tend to be short, and students may be interviewed in small groups.


Over the years, I have helped dozens of students gain entrance into a wide variety of schools including Eton, Harrow, City of London and Westminster as well as many others.  Read my testimonials.

I prepare my students for the specific exam they will be sitting, as well as working to develop the whole child academically. This means they will be fully ready for life at their chosen school as well as for the tests.