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Introduction to the ISEB Pre-Test

The ISEB Pre-Test, also known as the Common Entrance Pre-Test, is a test which is taken by students in independent schools in Year 6 or Year 7 as a method of assessing their ability. It is a way of selecting the top students to be tested further when the student is in Year 8 with the 13 Plus.

What is the ISEB Pre-Test?

The ISEB Pre-Test is a test used by many independent schools to assess a child’s ability in Year 6 or 7.

The format of the ISEB Pre-Test is that it covers four main sections. These are:

  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Non-verbal Reasoning
  • English
  • Maths

The ISEB exams are commissioned by GL (Granada Learning) Assessment in a multiple test format. They are online tests and can either be taken at the child’s current school or at their prospective school.

What do ISEB Exams involve?

The ISEB Common Entrance Pre-Test covers four main aspects in order to fully assess a child’s ability and test all areas of knowledge.

Verbal Reasoning is a test of the child’s grammar and vocabulary in English and involves problem solving with words and texts.

Non-Verbal Reasoning is a test of the child’s ability to solve problems with diagrams and pictures.

The English section of the ISEB Exam is a test of the child’s ability to write creatively.

The Maths section of the ISEB Pre-Test is a test of the child’s mental maths ability but also maths concepts and solving problems in multiple steps.

These four tests are multiple choice. They are also adaptive which means the level of difficulty increases as the child gets more questions right, and conversely if they are struggling then the level of difficulty decreases. This is a way of challenging the child at their highest level of ability and monitoring their progress.

The Key to Success in ISEB Exams

There are various things you can do to help with your child’s success in the ISEB Pre-Test. This might include:

  • Start practicing early to build confidence. Ideally this would be up to 12 months prior to the exam. This ensures that your child has enough time to practice answering questions similar to what they might be faced with in the exam and familiarise themselves with the structure of the exam.
  • Working with one of our Tutors who will identify any gaps in your child’s learning and what topics they need to focus on with your child.
  • Completing ISEB practice tests and mock ISEB test papers to prepare for the real exam. This will help build your child’s confidence and familiarity with exam conditions and example questions.

By the time of the ISEB exam we want each child to be relaxed, confident and completely familiar with the exam so it just feels like another friendly tuition session.

Which Schools use the ISEB Common Entrance Pre-Test?

Schools which use the ISEB Common Entrance Pre-Test include:


  • Ardingly College
  • Bedford School
  • Benenden School
  • Berkhamsted Boys School
  • Berkhamsted Girls School
  • Bloxham School
  • Bradfield College
  • Brighton College
  • Bryanston School
  • Canford School
  • Caterham School
  • Charterhouse
  • City of London School
  • Cranleigh School
  • Culford School
  • Dauntsey's School
  • Dulwich College
  • Eton College Windsor
  • Felsted School Stebbing
  • Fulham Senior
  • Gateways School
  • Harrow School
  • Headington School
  • Heathside
  • Hull Collegiate
  • Hurstpierpoint
  • King's College
  • King's School
  • Lancing College
  • Leeds Grammar
  • Leys School
  • Marlborough College
  • Oratory School
  • Palmers Green High School
  • Pangbourne College
  • Radley College
  • Roedean School
  • Seaford College
  • St Dunstan's College
  • St Edward's School
  • St Mary's School
  • St Paul's School
  • St Swithun's School
  • Stowe School
  • Sutton Valence School
  • Tonbridge School
  • University College School
  • Wellington College
  • Westminster School
  • Wetherby Senior
  • Winchester College
  • Woldingham School
  • Worth School

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