13+ Scholarship Schools: Where to apply

The 13+ scholarship, also know as the academic scholarship, is offered by many schools. Boy’s applying for the 13+ sit the exams in the spring or summer terms of Year 8. However, assessments can vary enormously depending on where you apply. For those parents who choose to have a 13+ tutor supporting their son it is advisable to inform the tutor of any intention to apply for scholarships as they will be able to tailor the preparation to the individual school.

Some of the UK’s top schools where many students apply are set out below including the criteria for each of their 13+ scholarships.

EtonCollege

Eton offers King’s Scholarships for boys who show great academic promise in Year 8. Notoriously demanding, the exam papers include a wide range of questions and cover an array of subjects. The school says it is keen to reward boys who show real ability, even if in only a limited field. 

What does it test? Boys must take four compulsory papers: English, Mathematics, Science, and a general paper, designed to test their ability to think logically and to respond to problems in an imaginative way. They must also take at least three optional papers from an extensive list. 

Before the exams, the boy’s current head teacher must submit a report which demonstrates they are sufficiently academic to sit the King’s Scholarship examination.

How should one prepare? Apart from the general papers, most of the assessments are based on the current Common Entrance syllabus. However, questions tend to be trickier than those set at Common Entrance so it is worth looking at some GCSE questions as well. 

Specific details about the scholarship syllabus can be found on the schools admissions pages. There are an array of past papers dating back to 2013 are available on Eton’s website or our exam page.

How many scholarships are available? Around 14 scholarships are awarded each year. 

What is the scholarship worth? Each King’s Scholarship carries automatic fee remission of 10% of the school fees. Scholars may obtain further remission according to financial need. Remember not all 13+ scholarship schools offer remissions on fees so it is worth checking with admissions first.

Key dates: Scholarship exams usually take place in April when the boy is in year 8.

Westminster School

Westminster sets a 13+ scholarship paper known as ‘The Challenge’ (for good reason!) and pupils who are successful are known as the Queen’s Scholars.

What does it test? The Challenge involves papers in Biology, Chemistry, English, French, Geography, Greek, History, Latin, Maths and Mental Maths, and Physics. Parents must check which papers their son will be sitting as they may not have to sit every single subject.

How should you prepare? Past papers for 2017, 2018 and 2019 are available on the school’s website. The 2016 papers are also available on our Westminster Challenge page. More information can also be requested from the school. 

How many scholarships are available? Each year the eight top-performing students are selected to become Queen’s Scholars.

What is the scholarship worth? The fee for a Queen’s Scholar is set at 20% less than the boarding fee. If required, an additional bursary will be awarded on a means-tested basis.

Key dates: Candidates sit the scholarship papers in late April or early May of year 8.

Harrow School

Harrow’s 13+ academic scholarship exams take place over three days and cover a particularly extensive range of topics. 

What does it test? All children must take interviews and tests in English, Mathematics, Analytical Reasoning, Philosophy and Applied Ethics, and General Linguistic Skills. On top of this, they must sit exams in at least three other subjects from Science, History, Geography, French, Latin and Ancient Greek.

How should you prepare? While Harrow does not post a comprehensive list of past papers online, a sample of papers is available. For example, a 2018 English paper can be found here, a 2017 Biology exam can be found here, while a 2015 analytical reasoning paper is available here. 

How many scholarships are available? The school does not specify how many scholarships are awarded each year. 

What is the scholarship worth? All Year 9 scholarships are worth up to 5% of the school fees and can be supplemented with a means-tested bursary to cover up to 100% of the fees.

Key dates: The assessment takes place at Harrow over three days in February of year 8.

Charterhouse School

Charterhouse offers Foundation Scholarships to those who exhibit ‘a high level of academic attainment and intellectual curiosity’. Meanwhile, Exhibitions are awarded to those who show special promise in one particular subject or for a generally sound performance that doesn’t quite meet the standard of a Foundation Scholarship.

What does it test? Candidates sit exams in Mathematics, English, Science and three other subjects chosen from French, Latin, Geography, Additional Mathematics and History. Greek may also be taken. All candidates will also take some short online IQ tests and have an interview with the headmaster.

How should you prepare? Copies of recent scholarship exam papers may be obtained by preparatory schools from the Admissions Office. 

How many scholarships are available? Charterhouse does not specify how many scholars are accepted each year, but there are never fewer than fifty Foundation Scholars in the school at any one time.

What is the scholarship worth? Some scholarships carry ‘a small financial award’, but they primarily exist to recognise academic ability.

Key dates: Scholarship exams take place at the end of April. 

Wellington School

Unusually, Wellington offers seven scholarships at the end of Year 9, as well as around eight accolades based on 13+ scholarship exams.

What does it test? There are two routes to attaining scholarships at Wellington. Seven named accolades are awarded at the end of Year 9 to pupils who have displayed outstanding academic potential in their first year at the school. 

Meanwhile, eight academic scholarships and eight academic exhibitions are awarded based on Year 8 Scholarship entrance exams if suitable candidates are found. Details about the 13+ exams are scarce, but Wellington says it will send out past papers if approached.

How should you prepare? Sample papers are available on request. 

How many scholarships are available? The school does not specify how many scholarships are awarded each year.

What is the scholarship worth? The value of a scholarship award is typically between 10-20% of the overall fee, but a final decision lies with the headmaster. All scholars are allowed to apply for a means-tested bursary.

Key dates: Candidates come to Wellington College for two days of assessment in early May. 

St Paul’s School

St Paul’s offers a generous number of scholarships each year to students who perform well in the exam or excel in the junior school. For many students considering 13+ scholarship schools St. Paul’s is commonly considered alongside Eton and Westminster.

What does it test? External students face compulsory papers in English, History, Geography, Latin, French, Theology & Philosophy, Mathematics and Science. There is also an optional paper in Greek. For pupils from St Paul’s Juniors, 13+ Scholarships are awarded on the basis of their work in Year 7 and 8 and their end of year exams.

How should you prepare? A sample of past papers are available here

How many scholarships are available? About 30 scholarships are awarded each year in total between pupils from St Paul’s Juniors and external candidates.

What is the scholarship worth? All Academic Scholarships are honorary and worth £60. 

Key dates: For external candidates entering at 13+, the scholarship examination is held in May.  

City of London School

City of London School uses past exam performances as well as scholarship papers to assess pupils.  When considering 13+ Scholarship schools City of London should definitely be on the list.

What does it test?  Scholarship candidates are selected on the strength of their results in the ISEB pre-test – a standardised exam used to assess pupils when they are in Year 6 or Year 7 – their performance in an interview, group session and short written assessments, and the further Scholarship assessment in Year 8.

How should you prepare?  The school offers few revision resources for the Year 8 Scholarship exam. It suggests you consult the ISEB website or your child’s current school for more information.

How many scholarships are available? The school does not specify how many scholarships are awarded each year.

What is the scholarship worth? Scholarships are worth £250.

Key dates: The scholarship examination is held annually in May.  

Winchester College

Winchester offers scholarships known as ‘Elections’ based on assessments and interviews. 

What does it test? Students must sit papers in English and Mathematics, as well as a multiple-choice logical reasoning test. They must also take at least three of the following: Latin, French, Greek, History, Geography, Maths II and General paper II.

How should you prepare? Most papers are based on Common Entrance or Key Stage 3 syllabuses, although in French and Latin a wider vocabulary may be expected. Copies of previous papers are available on request.

How many scholarships are available? 14 Elections were awarded in 2020. 

What is the scholarship worth? An academic Scholarship carries no automatic remission of school fees.

Key dates: The Electionexams typically takes place at the school over three days in the April or May. 

For more information about the 13+, please see our blog on How to Prepare for 13+ Scholarship Exams. 

Useful Websites

Harrow School 13+ Scholarship Papers

ISEB Common Pre-Tests

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