We registered our DS at New College School for Sept 2014 entry to reception and were told that there would be an assessment and based on that they will let us if the seat will be offered. The assessment is with Head Mistress for about 30 minutes. Any comments about what your experience has been with assessments for a 3.5 yr old will be very helpful.
I can't speak for that particular school, but our school has a two stage process. In the first, there is a small group of children and they undertake some activities similar to what they would do at Nursery. It is more a question of school readiness than anything else...children that can already read and write obviously stand out a little from the crowd! The second assessment is for those invited back from the first stage and involves more formal testing.
Surely the school can give you more of an idea about what will happen, but if it is anything like ours, they will be looking for a child who is just being their own self...curious and interested, able to hold a conversation and express themself reasonably articulately. In other words, one who is able to concentrate, listen and respond for an appropriate amount of time for someone who will be expected to do this at school in the near future. Children who have been tutored to the hilt are very easy to spot, and not particularly appealing candidates!
And yes, sadly some parents do 'tutor' their 3 year olds for these assessments!!!