While there are lots of resources out there to prepare children for the 13+ exam or selecting a 13+ tutor, websites focusing on the ISEB Pretest (also referred as the ISEB Common Pretest) are harder to find.
ISEB Pretest: What is it?
The ISEB Common Pretest – created by the Independent Schools Examinations Board – is taken by children in Year 6 and Year 7 and assesses English and Maths skills, along with verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Computerised testing is used by many private senior schools such as Harrow School, Eton College, St Paul’s Boys, and Westminster and is designed to measure pupils’ academic ability as well as learning potential.
Not all schools use the ISEB Pretest
Depending on how they perform in the ISEB or other online tests, children are sometimes offered conditional school places subject to passing the common entrance exam in Year 8. Not all schools use the common entrance therefore it is always a good idea to check the individual schools admissions pages. The schools admissions pages are regular updated with exam dates, tests or online tests to be taken as well as scholarship awards information.
No Past Papers for the ISEB Pretest!
The Independent Schools Examinations Board does not publish any past papers for online testing, so knowing what to expect from the exam can be difficult. Don’t panic, however. Here are a selection of online resources recommended to us by a number of prep schools and parents whose children went through the process last year.
The following online testing website for Maths, English, and Reasoning should help reduce any anxiety you have about the revision process and to help your child achieve the very best mark they can.
Atom Learning is a popular educational website that provides mock ISEB pretests, which are taken online. A clever algorithm means that questions are kept at the right level of difficulty, and parents can access performance analytics and a detailed ISEB syllabus when they sign up. While Atom Learning is not a cheap option, it is endorsed by a wide range of headteachers, who praise the website’s user-friendly layout and engaging content.
Price: £59.99 a month, plus a five day free trial.
Planet Bofa is another website that is popular with independent schools. Like Atom Learning, Planet Bofa tests children online. However, it also homes in on problem areas and provides tailored tuition. The website then retests children at a later date, using slightly different questions to make sure they have really got to grips with the topic. On top of this, BOFA creates subject reports which you can talk through with your child or pass on to a tutor.
Price: £55 for 3 tests plus a free pretest demo.
The ISEB website does not publish past papers but it does contain a huge amount of practical information about the assessment. For example, you can find a list of all the senior schools that use the ISEB pretest, along with details about the length of the exam, the format and the timings. The parent section is particularly useful, as it provides examples of the sort of topics children will be tested on.
Lumosity is a brain training website which will help your child develop their verbal and non-verbal reasoning skills. Promising to improve memory, attention, flexibility, speed of processing, and problem solving, the website generates brain-training puzzles at the right level for the user. Fun, competitive and engaging, Lumosity is a sure hit with children who hate revising.
Price: free or £7.95 a month for full access.
Question Mix is a website which focuses specifically on UK entrance exams. However, unlike Planet Bofa and Atom Learning it doesn’t publish mock exam papers. Instead, questions are presented in fun and dynamic ways and an impressive array of brain teaser exercises inspired by entrance exam questions are also available to try. A ‘My Performance’ section lets pupils track their progress, and most questions have full explanations if your child gets stuck.
Price: £5 for 1 month, £12 for 3 months, £24 for a year.
Bond Online has a huge range of resources for children aged 9 to 11. With an interactive question bank, instant marking and feedback for students and parents, thousands of practice exam questions and a range of physical workbooks, it is well worth the monthly subscription fee. Although Bond’s primary focus is the 11+ exam, lots of the topics it covers are highly relevant to the ISEB Common Pretest.
Price: £6.50 a month, £55 a year. Free resources also available.
BBC Bitesize is a very useful resource, particularly if your child needs to develop their Maths skills. With videos, self-marking questions and easy-to-follow explanations, the website comprehensively covers Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3. It also has some well designed games to engage children who might otherwise be put off by numbers and shapes.