The ISEB Common Pre-Test is designed to provide independent senior schools with information about a pupil’s current attainment and potential, prior to them taking Common Entrance in Year 8. We’ve put together this guide to the ISEB Common Pre-Test to help you better understand the exam.
Key facts About the ISEB Common Pre-Tests
– It is taken in Year 6 or 7 when pupils are aged between 10 and 12 years old.
– It provides a universal and standardised measure of attainment, ability and potential.
– It is made up of four tests comprising of: English, maths, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning.
– All four tests take approximately 2.5 hours to complete.
– Tests can be taken together or separately (but each component must be finished in one sitting once started.)
– They are created for ISEB by GL assessment.
– They are online and adaptive.
– Questions are in multiple-choice format.
– Candidates are registered by the senior school (or schools) for which they are entered.
– Results are available to all senior schools for which the candidate is registered, so the candidate only has to sit one test.
– These tests are designed for the UK independent sector.
– A pupil can only take a test once. If multiple tests are taken, the first test result will stand.
– Candidates can take the tests in any location that has an internet connection, but they are normally taken at the child’s current prep school. If a child is overseas, then tests can be taken locally.
– In general, registration and administrative functions are the responsibility of the senior school and the taking of the tests is the responsibility of the prep school.
This means they are able to establish, one or two years in advance of a child potentially transferring to their school, if that child will meet the academic standard. If a child passes the Pre-Test, they will usually be offered a place contingent on them then passing Common Entrance at 13+.
Each school decides on how they use a child’s Common Pre-Test results. Highly selective, oversubscribed and popular senior schools may use the Pre-Test to de-select pupils. They will therefore tell some parents that their child has been eliminated from the admissions/Common Entrance process, and/or they may put them on a reserve list.
Which Schools use the ISEB Common Pre-Tests?
The ISEB Common Pre-Test is not the only pre-test available, but it is one of the most popular.
It is used by the following schools:
Source: ISEB website
How do Other Schools Pre-test?
Some schools create their own pre-tests, other use bespoke tests commissioned directly from GL or other providers, such as CEM. Schools that have their own pre-tests include Eton College, King’s College Wimbledon, Harrow School, St Paul’s Girls School, James Allen’s Girls’ School, Hampton School and City of London School for Boys. Some of these tests are online, some offline and some are a combination of both. Get in touch if you’re not sure of the requirements at the schools you are interested in and we will be happy to clarify.
Not every school pre-tests. Always check each individual school you intend to apply for and do so well in advance.
Can You Prepare for the ISEB Common Pre-Test?
There is no doubt that familiarity with the different question types, experience of the computerised interface and some knowledge of what to expect can significantly help. If a child is confident and not fazed by the process, they stand a better chance of performing to their maximum potential.
What You Need to Know in More Detail…
The ISEB Common Pre-Test is made up of four individual tests which can be taken at different times and in any order. However, candidates must complete each individual test in one sitting.
– English – assesses comprehension, sentence completion, spelling and punctuation.
– Maths – assesses mathematical ability relative to the national curriculum stage.
– Verbal reasoning – assesses thinking and problem solving with words
– Non-verbal reasoning – assesses thinking with shapes, space, diagrams and pictures.
In total, the four parts of the ISEB Common Pre-test take approximately 2.5 hours to administer and complete. There is no audio component to any of the tests. With the exception of the English test, each assessment contains example and practice questions. A pen and paper are allowed in the maths test for working out. No other test requires or allows for additional materials.
Each test has a timer and a time limit set for its completion. For each question candidates must select an answer from a choice of five and then press ‘next’ to submit. Candidates cannot return to a question once an answer has been submitted and the ‘next’ button pressed.
The timings for each test are below. This excludes the time required for each test to be set up and for login to be completed. It does however include the time required for candidates to read the on-screen instructions, and in the case of the English test, the time allotted for the reading of the comprehension passage.
– English – 25 minutes
– Maths – 50 minutes
– Verbal reasoning – 36 minutes
– Non-verbal reasoning – 32 minutes
Each test will begin with a set of instructions that candidates must read carefully. They will tell candidates how to navigate through the test. Each question is presented individually.
In the verbal reasoning test, two question types require a candidate to select more than one answer. If two answers are selected and the candidate wants to amend one of his choices, one answer must be de-selected before a new answer can be chosen.
Where the passage is presented in the English test, it will be visible on each question page and candidates can use a set of scroll buttons to navigate the text. For some questions, candidates will need to refer to a specific set of lines from the text.
A progress bar at the bottom of the screen tells candidates how many questions they have answered and a timer at the top of the screen will indicate how much time they have left.
Tests will be administered in a formal test environment even though they are being taken online. The usual expectations of behaviour and the constraints of a test will be in place. Candidates will be expected to work in silence. Whilst teachers will do their best to ensure that candidates are progressing appropriately and not rushing any part of the test/s, they cannot help with anything relating to the content of test questions.
How to Prepare Your Child for the ISEB Common Pre-Test
Now that you know a little more about what to expect, here are some practical things that you can do to prepare.
Get your child familiar with the computer interface and answering questions under strict timed conditions by using our practice tests and courses, which have been specifically designed for this purpose. The on-screen format, process, test duration and question types replicate the real test experience as closely as possible. By getting used to the process, your child will have an idea of what to expect and this will help them to approach the real test confidently and calmly.
Our online practice tests also offer feedback on every question as well as benchmark statistics for peer comparison. You can access the tests here.
You can also use paper resources to practice and become familiar with the question types. Take a look at the comprehensive 11+ range from Exam Papers Plus here.
We hope that this post has been useful. We will be producing more detailed posts on the individual sections in the coming weeks and look forward to your thoughts and feedback. Please get in touch if you have any questions, comments or queries.
All the best
The Pretest Plus Team