Entrance examinations

The vast array of different schools available to choose for your child can be a daunting task.  To make matters more complicated there are a number of different stages of school entry (4+, 7+, 11+, 13+, and 16+) that also need consideration when planning your child’s future.  This page is dedicated to providing informative and impartial advice for parents who have decided to opt for the Independent school day and boarding or the selective state schools route.

Deciding on schools

There are many variables within the decision making process for your child’s future educational career.  A school’s ethos, academic performance, facilities and location are the primary factors worth considering when deciding on which schools to apply for.  One overriding factor that is probably high on the agenda would be your child’s happiness.  A child who is struggling to keep up at the most academic school is unlikely to be happy, likewise an exceptionally bright child who is not challenged by the teachers at their school and finds the curriculum easy and boring is also unlikely to enjoy school. There are a reasonable number of very good day and boarding schools within close reach of London and in London the capital itself that will most definitely suit your child.

Open days, open evenings, and action mornings are an excellent way to get to know a school, meet some of the teachers and pupils, and get a general feel for a school’s ethos. 

Today you will find the admissions sections of most school websites very useful with information about the open days, and key dates for registering your child at the school, the dates of the tests and the interviews.

When considering school choices do speak with the head teacher at your child’s current school to discuss the options.  In the event that you are still uncertain of the right school for your child then seeking advice from an independent body and undertaking an academic assessment for your child would be a worthwhile consideration.

At the point of registration for say the 7+ or 11+ it would also be wise to inform your school. The head teacher will also be requested for a reference at some point during the admissions process.

The tests

Preparing your child for the tests is something you can help with at home, and most schools would certainly be able to ensure that your child is reaching the expected attainment (providing that suitable school choices have been agreed with the primary or prep school) once they are informed of your intention to embark on entry tests.  If you have not seen a 7+ 11+ or 13+ test before familiarize yourself with our exam papers page.  A very good tutor will use these plus additional past papers and a wide range of learning resources to prepare the students for their exams.  Additionally trying to anticipate what sort of exam one school will be setting is unwise.  It is advisable to prepare for the inevitable therefore using papers from a wide range of schools can help overcome such a narrow strategy in preparation.

Many parents do employ tutors to help with the preparation for the exams. A good tutor can not only help with the preparation but will also be able to provide an independent assessment and guide you on the entry process for the various schools.

The schools vary in how and when they conduct the interview process.  Interviews are normally after the tests but there are a number of schools that hold their interviews months before.  There are many stages to the interview, for example there will probably be a chance to meet the head teacher, then there will be subject specific interviews, and even group interviews.  Again some parents do embark on coaching for the interview and this may help to settle nerves but the schools are trying to find out the real person inside the boy or girl being assessed.

A further resource that many parents find useful are the league tables on our News feed page. The league tables should be used only as a guide, but do provide useful information on examination success rates. Some schools such as Eton and St Paul’s no longer submit their results for publishing so are not included in the tables.

Hampstead & Frognal Tutors have a sound knowledge of the entrance exam system, and considerable experience preparing students for the maths, English, verbal and non-verbal reasoning tests. Our tutors are professional and passionate about their subjects, and dedicated to helping your son or daughter achieve their full potential, so contact us today because your child comes first.

Entry points

A brief summary of the criteria for each of the stages of entry are set out below.

4+ entry (reception) The process for 4+ entry can vary but schools tend to keep the first visit to the school informal to see how your child interacts in a social environment within the classroom. A teacher will provide the prospective children with activities, and an assessment of how the children respond and communicate with the teacher and the other children.

7+ entry (year 3)  Most schools require the students to attend a 'play date' at the school to assess how the children interact, and respond in a social setting. Successful applicants will be invited for a follow up interview and observed activities. Some schools require students to sit tests that consist of basic maths and English tests. 

11+ entry (year 7) Grammar schools, independent schools, state selective, and many religious schools require students to sit a test for entry to year 7. These tests will often consist of a selection of maths, English, verbal and non-verbal reasoning tests. As the tests vary between schools it is advisable to refer to the admission criteria for the school that is being applied to. The criteria can usually be found on the individual school websites. A few schools such as City of London Boys' offer places from year 6 through their 10+ examination.

13+ entry (year 9) The 13+ process begins in year 7 or year 8 with an English and maths test, and verbal and non-verbal reasoning assessments. If your child is successful and passes the interview stage they will be given a conditional offer providing that they pass the 13+ exams set out by the Independent Schools Examination Board. These exams may include science, history, and a language.

16+ entry (years 12 and 13 sixth form).  Interviews and assessments are held during the the autumn term when your child is in year 11.  The assessments vary from subject specific, mathematics and English compulsory, to tests involving crtitical thinking, reasoning and problem solving.  As with all entry levels it is vital to check the admissions process for each school and visit on open days with your son or daughter to get a feel for the school's ethos.

Recent students have applied to and had offers from the following schools:-

City of London Boys' School

City of London Girls' School (CLGS)

Channing School

Dame Alice Owen's

Dulwich college

North London Collegiate School (NLCS)

Haberdashers Aske's Boys'

Haberdashers Aske's Girls'

Henrietta Barnett (HB)


Queen Elizabeth Boys' Barnet (QE)

London Oratory

Merchant Taylors

St Albans

St. Paul's Boys

St. Paul's Girls

St Albans


Watford Grammar Schools


Do acquaint yourself with our useful exam papers page which has examples of past papers from some of these schools that our tutors use in addition to the back catalogue of other papers we have going back over 10 years.

Hampstead & Frognal tutors have extensive experience in preparing students for the entrance exams, and a good knowledge of the schools that many of our past and present clients have applied to. Our tutors can help your son or daughter thoroughly prepare for the entrance exams. Contact us today to book your first lessons and assessment because your child comes first.

Contact us today to book your son or daughters place.

Call us at:

020 7419 1980