What's the difference between the 7-plus and 8-plus Common Entrance exams?

Not quite sure what the 7 and 8-plus are? Read our simple guide to the 7-plus and 8-plus exam, and get informed by our Common Entrance experts right here.

What is the 7-plus exam?

Typically reserved for independent prep schools, the 7-plus is an assessment for pupils wishing to enter entering the school in Year 3. Children typically take this test at the age of 7, giving the exam its namesake.

Via the 7-plus exam, the school can assess a pupil's academic ability and judge whether or not they are going to be suitable for the school for the remainder of their primary education.  

At this age, schools feel as though they can detect and test a given pupil's ability, any younger than this and it would become too difficult to tell.

What's does the 7-plus involve?

Both the 7-plus and the 8-plus require children to sit a Maths and an English exam.

In addition to this pupils are judged on their ability to work independently as well as assessed on their social and behavioural interactions with other students and staff members.

Both these assessments take into account the students character and personality during the application process.

Most schools who offer the 7-plus and 8-plus as a condition of entry set their own tests and can include additional assessment criteria.

Should I put my child forward for the 7-plus or the 8-plus?

It's important to consider the following when deciding between the 7 and 8-plus exams:

Academic Ability: make sure you child is ready to be assessed on their academic ability. If you feel you child would benefit from another year at their current school it's best to wait for the 8-plus rather than push them forward for the 7-plus.

Exam Readiness: is your child ready to perform under a time-sensitive conditions. As well as showing an understanding of the content, consider whether you child can write in full sentences and can read and understand questions quickly. If the answer is not really, your child may benefit from the extra year to prepare.

Emotional Readiness: for most 7-year olds this is the first time in their lives they have ever been formerly examined. Always think about the extent of emotional readiness that is required for these entrance exams. How will they cope being tested, will they be ready to perform well in an interview situation? Make sure you are confident in your child's ability to complete the requirements of the tests before putting them forward.

Remember, if you do choose to put your child forward for the 7-plus and they are unsuccessful you can still put them forward for the 8-plus the following year.

Who sets the 7-plus and 8-plus tests?

Prep schools typically set their own tests, so you should always contact the school your child is applying to before preparing for the 7-plus or 8-plus entrance exam. Make sure you are aware of exactly what the particular exam entails for your child’s desired school.

When does the 7- plus entrance exam take place?

The 7-plus exams usually take place at the beginning of the spring term, permitting entry to the school the following September.

Your child could be offered a confirmed place or placed on a waiting list depending on their results. Alternatively, you will be told if your child has been unsuccessful.

How can I help my child prepare for the 7-plus exam?

Make sure your child is aware of everything the 7-plus exam includes. Make sure you leave enough time before the 7-plus exam to allow your child to gain the confidence they need to perform to the best of their ability on the big day. 

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What is the 8-plus exam?

The 8-plus is very similar to the 7-plus. The exams are taken around the same time permitting entry to the next school year the following September. The content follows the Key Stage One curriculum and also features the early stages of Key Stage Two.

What makes the 8-plus exam different to the 7-plus?

The 8-plus is slightly more demanding of the student than the 7-plus.

Pupils who sit the 8-plus will be expected to have to be able to use a wider vocabulary in the English section of the test and be expected to be able to answer more advanced material. There may be separate spelling tests and pupils will be required to write at length showing their knowledge of punctuation.

Successful candidates are awarded a place at the prep school of their choice by demonstrating their knowledge of at least the Key Stage 2 English words list for Years 3 and 4.

For the Maths section the 8-plus tests the student's knowledge and ability to retain information learned from the full Year 3 Maths syllabus.

Some schools also include a Reasoning test in the 8-plus exam.

  • St Paul’s Junior
  • Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School
  • Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls
  • King’s College Junior School
  • Wetherby Prep School
  • Dulwich College
  • North London Collegiate School
  • Alleyn’s City of London School for Girls
  • Westminster Under School
  • Sussex House

⭐ Top Tip: Make sure your child wants to go to private school and is prepared for the application process. Be honest when you register and give a complete overview of your child’s tuition and academic progress.

Why choose Tutor House Common Entrance tutors?

Our common entrance tutors are highly-trained and DBS checked, readily prepared with past papers and exemplar answers. Many have also worked as common entrance examiners and taken the tests themselves!

Tutor House will provide ample opportunities for your child to demonstrate their newly acquired skills and potential under test conditions.

Since most pupils will opt to be taught in larger groups as opposed to 1:1, they will benefit from competition with peers who are also prepared for the entrance exam.

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