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The ISEB Common Pre-Test is a requirement for a number of Independent Schools before the Common Entrance Exam for entrance at Year 8. With a few notable exclusions (King’s College Wimbledon, Harrow School and St Paul’s Girls School for example) who use tailored assessments from GL or CEM, the pre-test is most commonly in the ‘ISEB Common’ format.

Whilst the objective of the pre-test remains the same - to determine the academic standard of a child two years before admission – the results are used differently by each school. Furthermore, although all schools use the pre-test as a gatekeeper, how much weight the outcome carries is entirely dependent on the admissions requirements.

This blog will consider how to prepare for the ISEB Pre-Test, from Non-Verbal Reasoning questions, Verbal Reasoning Questions to where to find ISEB past papers. 

Which Schools use the ISEB Common Pre-Test?

The majority of schools use pre-test results to influence the decision of an offer, conditional or otherwise, with successful students often being asked to take the Common Entrance at 13+, or undertake an interview. Schools with a more rigorous selection process will use pre-test results to potentially reject or ‘reserve list’ applicants, increasing the importance of scoring highly.

It is important to note that, prior to this year, the London 11+ Consortium provided a unique single exam pre-test for a select number of schools in London, however, they are now using the ISEB Common Pre-Test as their primary assessment means.

Preparation Tips for ISEB Common Pre-Test

Excellent preparation for the ISEB Pre-Test is hinged on the ‘3 Ps’: practice, practice and practice. The best students start up to twelve months before the exam, as it takes time to understand and master the techniques – regardless of their level.

If a child starts practicing twelve months before the exam, we suggest at least five hours per week until three months before the exam, when you should ramp up to between one hour and two of practice every day. Since each child has a unique learning style, they may need specific and targeted help with varying parts of the assessment. If you would like to know the most effective way to help your child learn, please contact one of our advisors.

When it comes to practice there are a considerable number of resources online. Both Atom and Pretestplus, who have a page dedicated to ISEB, are excellent places to start. Remember, the more timed practices a student undertakes, the more comfortable they’ll be on the day.

ISEB Pre-Test: Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning Questions

The Reasoning sections of the ISEB Pre-Test are all about testing a student’s ability to problem solve on the spot. Whilst Verbal Reasoning questions prompt a student to solve conundrums based around the English language, Non-Verbal Reasoning questions challenge them to work out the similarities, differences and relationships between shapes. Naturally, the learning curve is steep with Non-Verbal Reasoning, however, depending on the learning style of the student, they might be able to pick up techniques faster.

With regards to practicing Non-Verbal Reasoning questions, there are plenty of resources online to help students. A great place to start is Atom Learning’s resource, which gives actionable tips to help students prepare. Once again, Atom stress the best way to prepare is to learn the correct techniques before practicing regularly.

Excelling in Verbal Reasoning questions of the ISEB Pre-Test requires the same commitment to learning proper techniques, and practicing them regularly. Our elite professional tutors utilise learning devices, such as mnemonics, rhymes and games to ensure that sessions are both enjoyable and results driven. Please contact us to find out more.

ISEB Pre-Test: English Questions

English questions, unlike the puzzle orientated challenges of Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning questions, should be more familiar to students in Primary Education. Test-takers are challenged with a variety of questions to assess their reading and retention (comprehension), spelling, punctuation, grammar, vocabulary and sentence completion. The best students are well read and capable of understanding and repeating a wide-range of sentence structures. We suggest students should first master the techniques, before practicing regularly. With a wide selection of professional tutors, we can help by providing an elite tutor with an in-depth knowledge of English questions, and the experience required to help your child excel in the ISEB Pre-Test.

ISEB Pre-Test: Maths Questions

The maths portion of the ISEB Pre-Test is assessed in line with the UK National Curriculum. Students are therefore often expected to undertake a series of questions which challenge their mental maths, maths concepts and problem solving ability. The simplest route to success is through practicing all the question types, ensuring that the right technique is applied to each question. There are a number of resources online to help with this – from BBC Bitesize to PiAcademy. It is important to note that, as the longest section of the ISEB Pre-Test, students must have the stamina required to concentrate throughout. It is vital therefore that mock-exams are undertaken beforehand with the view to help prepare a student for the assessment day.

Contact Think Tutors

This blog has covered how to prepare for the ISEB Pre-Test – from Non-Verbal Reasoning questions to Verbal Reasoning questions, Maths and English. If you are interested in finding out how a private tutor or mentor could help your child excel in the ISEB Pre-Test, please do get in touch. We also offer 7/8 plus tuition and 13 plus tuition as part of our wider school admissions service.