Welcome to School Notices
Get the inside track about your school,
school life, exclusive rewards, and
buy and sell to other independent
school parents Learn more.

How to navigate your way through the admissions process

For those of you with children currently in Year 5 and whether you are considering an 11+ or a 13+ entry in or out of London then your senior school admissions process will have already begun.

Arabella Davies, Education Consultant and Founder of Their Best Years shares some valuable perspectives and comparisons between London and country schools in order to get the very best out of this important journey.

Senior Schools in London

Registration Deadlines – Some schools do not allow you to register until you have been invited to an open morning which this year will most likely take place in early Autumn. A handful of schools might have an earlier registration deadline and so keep your eye on the ball so as not to miss out.

The Exam Process – Most of the 13+ entry schools in London have adopted the ISEB pre-test which is a computerised test sat in English, Maths, Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning.

Some of the 11+ schools have also adopted this method but most are still relying on the original 11+ whereby your child sits separate exams at each of your choices in the January of Year 6 unless your target school is part of the consortium whereby they will sit the consortium exam only once. Exams are followed by (sometimes preceded with) at least one interview which forms a very important part of their decision alongside a reference which is sent from your child’s current school.

Place Allocation – The competition for London schools has become even more fierce since the pandemic and therefore I advise that if you are aiming for the most academic it is wise to include a couple of less academically stringent options to be on the safe side. The average London family will usually register with at least 3-5 schools. Offers come out around 1st March of Year 6 and you will have 2 weeks to commit to your place.

Senior Schools outside of London

Registration Deadlines – From April onwards, families will be invited to a combination of virtual & in-person open mornings and tours. There are very few schools that now offer private tours to begin with, however, further down the road these can be arranged. Some boarding schools have very strict deadlines for registration, as early as June of Year 5, and so it’s worth ensuring that you do not miss these although most are early Autumn.

The Exam Process – Almost all of the 13+ entry schools and many of the 11+ entry schools have adopted the ISEB pre-test with a few running the standard 11+ or their own in-house exam. These tests are combined with that all-important reference alongside interviews although some schools will only invite your child to interview subject to their score following the ISEB pre-test.

Some schools are also adding an activity day in order to test children’s creative, teambuilding and communication skills as part of their process.

Place Allocation – Although schools outside of London are becoming more competitive, especially those who assess in Year 6, there are many 13+ schools who prefer to run their assessments in Year 7 and even in Year 8 and so there are plenty of chances to change direction at a later date.


Whether you are looking in or out of London, don’t forget that the menu of great schools on offer to you is plentiful, and so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you feel that a more in-depth insight into each of your choices might be useful as well as information on the admissions process in its entirety. Do contact arabella@theirbestyears.com




(This article was previously published in February 2020.)

Other similar posts

Logged out | Log in