A Complete Guide to the Common Entrance Exams

Tutor House will take you through everything you need to know about the 11+ and 13+ Common Entrance Exams and show you the most effective ways for your child to prepare.

What are the Common Entrance Exams?

Common Entrance is a set of examinations usually taken during Year 6 (age 11) or Year 8 (age 13) by students hoping to gain admission into selective grammar or independent schools.

The selection process usually tests students' skills in English, Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning and is more familiarly known as the 11-plus or the 13-plus exams. Due to the competitive nature of these exams, hiring private tuition is a popular option for parents.

Tutor House provides top-quality tuition delivered by experienced Common Entrance tutors with in-depth knowledge of these exams.

  • Verbal reasoning aims to evaluate the student’s ability to think logically and constructively and use their vocabulary to reframe concepts.

  • Non-verbal reasoning aims to test a student’s ability to comprehend graphical and pictorial information and then make logical deductions and inferences from that information.

Exam Guides by Age

How does Common Entrance work?

The first step is to research which schools you are interested in.

There are plenty of online resources, league tables and open days you can refer to. Then, you can register your child for their target schools. The Common Entrance process is highly competitive, with limited spots available, so aim to apply for at least three different schools.

The next stage is the testing process.

Your child sits the Common Entrance exam and, if successful, may be invited to an interview, depending on the school they have applied for. This will either be individually or in groups, and parents may be asked to join.

Letter of acceptance.

Once your child is accepted you will receive a written letter specifying the period in which you must reply - this is usually between two and three weeks. Failure to respond in the period set will result in losing your child’s place at the school.

Speak to a Common Entrance Expert.

How do I register my child for the Common Entrance?

The 11-plus is usually free to students applying for grammar schools. All private schools require you to complete a registration form and may ask you to pay a fee (between £100 to £300) which is non-refundable. They can also ask for a deposit once you accept the place, but this will be refunded at the end of your child’s first term.

Registration can start up to 18 months before your child is due to sit the exams, so it's worth applying early to make sure the registration places are not full.

How are Common Entrance exams marked?

Mark schemes are provided by the exam board (ISEB) but some schools may have their own criteria to follow in the marking process. It's a good idea to look for example papers online, or to work with an experienced tutor to get a better understanding of what the examiners are looking for.

What is the Common Entrance pass mark?

There is no fixed pass mark as schools like to set their own grading criteria. Check with your chosen school’s board to find out which grading scheme applies to your child. Remember that your child is competing against many other talented applicants, so anything you can do to get an advantage is a good idea.

Common Entrance Tutoring Support

Our Common Entrance tutors are highly-trained and DBS checked, readily prepared with past papers and example answers. They have in-depth knowledge of the exam, with experience of teaching, exam writing and examining, giving you insight you can’t find anywhere else.

  • Tutor House will match you to a suitable Common Entrance tutor for your child's specific needs and requirements.

  • We will create a personalised plan ahead of your child’s exam.

  • We will offer support and guidance for your child to feel confident (as it may well be their first exam).

  • We can offer personalised resources for your child on request.

Speak to an Expert

We offer free educational advice and support for all the Common Entrance exams. Get in touch today for an in-depth discussion of your options and how we can help you achieve your goals.

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