Our DD is in yr 8 and we are worried about her progress. We are considering sending her to the local private school. Before starting the process we wondered what sort of grades she should be getting in order to do well in the entrance exam. We understand they all differ but just wanted a guide initially
Common Entrance is a qualifying exam not a competitive one. All CE candidates sit the same papers, but then each school marks the CE papers of those pupils on its provisional list and all those who make the grade get in. Each school sets its own "pass mark".
Agree Year 9 entry tests took place in December/January around here then CE 2 weeks ago. There may be some places come up now if CE candidates haven't met the minimum level and 6a sounds ok but prep schools tend not to use NC levels so hard to cross reference. Very much down to individual schools as to whether they have spaces at this late stage and what criteria would be applied to an entrant from a state school. Proabbly woudl need to sit specific English, Maths and VR/NVR papers .
Not every school pretests in year 6 for year 9 entry (though it is becoming the norm). Schools sometimes take a dim view of applicants after the examinations round - they won't run ad hoc exams and may suspect you had a reason to try to avoid the normal entry procedure.
That said, there's always wriggle room. A friend moved back to UK on short notice and secured places for September entry for both her children in well regarded schools even though her first approach was in July. The schools have the independence to be flexible, and are likely to know by now if they have spaces.
I'd suggest you crack on with it - if the school has a y7-8, one of the things they may want to do for assessment is a "taster day", and there isn't much term left to fit it in to.