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Common entrance v 11+

(9 Posts)
MarzipanPiggy Mon 08-May-17 13:33:02

Just interested at this stage as DC are still very little. However, not having grown up in the UK, I am a bit confused by the entry process to independent secondary schools.

Several schools I have looked at offer entry both at 11+ and at 13+. But it seems the assessment for the 13+ takes place at the same time as the 11+ (rather than two years later as you might expect) via a pre-test which is subsequently followed by a common entrance exam.

Could someone a bit more knowledgeable than me explain how this works in practice?

It's vaguely relevant at the moment as we are looking at primary schools some of which finish at 7, some at 11 and some at 13... And I am working on the assumption that a school which finishes at 13 doesn't prepare for exams at 11 etc etc.


steppemum Mon 08-May-17 13:39:06

my nephew went to Independent school at 13. His prep school (prep means private primary) went up to 13 too. But he took his exam at 11, passed and as far as I know that secured him a place for age 13. He then had the choice to move age 11 or age 13.
At his secondary, they had about 2/3 start at 11 (bearing in mind state primaries finish at 11) and the last 1/3 came in at 13.

His sister went to same prep school, but took her entrance exam at 11 and moved school at 11 as at her secondary most started at 11.

MarzipanPiggy Mon 08-May-17 13:45:28

Thanks steppemum. Do you happen to know if this essentially means that for entry at 13 you need to pass two exams (one at 11 and one at 13)? Or is the 13+ place more or less secured at 11?

On the face of it it seems 11+ entry could be the more straightforward option with one one exam to pass.. but I'm sure it is not at simple as that!

orangeplum Mon 08-May-17 17:20:15

You are right, in most cases you do need to pass two exams if you do the 13+. The first one is a pretest where you get an offer at 11+ stage (i.e. Yr 6) at a school based on successfully passing the Common Entrance exams in Yr 8. The most academic schools usually give you a mark you need to get in the common entrance exams e.g. >60/65%. If you are thinking of boarding then 13+ popular and at some of academic schools.

If you sit the 13+ during year 8 then offer tends to be unconditional.

Your decision will be beaded on what is best for your DCs. Pros and cons of each system.

AnotherNewt Mon 08-May-17 17:32:57

Not all CE schools use exams at 11 to decide who to make conditional offers to, but an increasing number do.

Interview and head's reference will also for all schools, as might taster/assessment day/sleepover.

Essentially, it's a matchmaking exercise, whereby you see if you really like the school, and the school decides which of its candidates it likes best. And being forced to nominate 'first choice' school in the Spring term of year 8 means that nearly all the waiting list shuffle happens before the exam. Also, any school which has mucked up its numbers gets a chance to put it straight (eg warning prep heads they have over-offered and will have to fail some candidates, so decision in whether risk it or make another offer 'first choice' can be made).

So nearly everyone passes CE, because the matching process has led them to a school where they will be a good fit and where they will be the right academic level.

Do remember that some schools with 13+ entry have straightforward competitive exams. You can apply for as many of those as you want (like 11+) but may have to decide about that offer before CE is taken.

Mominatrix Mon 08-May-17 17:33:28

Hello Marzipan.

In terms of 13+ entry to oversubscribed schools, many have now implemented a system of 11+ pretest. The result of the pretest will be conditional acceptance, rejection, or wait list.

The conditional acceptance is based on an expectation of a certain result of Common Entrance. Yes, it is 2 exams, but I have never heard of any case of any boy NOT meeting his target.

Boys who choose this route are usually at a prep school which ends after year 8. If a boy chooses this route and is at a school which ends after year 6, he would need to find a prep school for the last 2 years which prepares for the Common Entrance.

An alternative are schools which have an 11+ entrance. For some schools, that means starting at their Prep School divisions and possibly (not always) taking a transfer exam with the rest of the junior school for the senior schools. Other schools have no transfer exams or start at 11+.

Schools which are not as oversubscribed and start at 13+ do not have a pretest or test later.

MarzipanPiggy Tue 09-May-17 14:55:53

Thank you very much everyone. I certainly understand this a lot better now.

I suppose if your son is at a prep school that goes to 13, and you are confident that he will pass the test in year six (the pre-test and 11+ seem to be the same test?) you might be better off having him sit the 11+ anyway in spite of the fact you'd be removing him from his prep school early? Although I suppose maybe it depends on competition for 11+ v 13+ places.

Thanks again

AnotherNewt Tue 09-May-17 16:17:42

The pretest is not the same as the 11+, though the exam papers might well be quite similar.

You have to opt to do one or the other (unless the school allows you to do both, if they have both 11+ competitive and 13+ CE with pretest)

Or you apply to a couple of 11+ schools and a couple of 13+ schools (sitting the pretests in year 6 or 7, depending on the school) and decide when the results are in

bojorojo Tue 09-May-17 23:22:40

I think some of the decision-making regarding 11 plus or CE at 13 is rather dependent on the prep school you choose. Traditional preps do not lose many at 11 unless they feed grammar schools. If they are traditional and preparing for CE, then they have most leaving at 13, especially boys' preps. So when you come to choose the school, it is wise to ask about destinations for the pupils and what age they leave. If very many pupils go to boarding schools, many will stay until 13 but girls may go at 11 or 13. It really depends what you are aiming for as to what type of prep you choose. You would also expect the prep to guide you regarding suitable destinations and transfer age if they offer a choice.

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