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Common Entrance - when child in a state school

(29 Posts)
newtothis15 Fri 10-Jan-20 06:56:20

Has anybody prepared a child for CE exam, when the child was in state it possible? We are considering 13+ school private, child would go for Year 7/8 to state school. Thank you

OP’s posts: |
StartOfRoaringTwenties Tue 14-Jan-20 07:03:47

I agree @BoardingSchoolMater

How you have set it out is my experience

BoardingSchoolMater Mon 13-Jan-20 08:52:02

I think there's some muddling here of 'entrance exams' and CE. CE isn't used for admission at 11+

CE is taken in May/June of Year 8. Ordinary entrance exams for admission into Year 9 are mostly taken in January of Year 8.

CE is very different from other entrance exams, and requires specific teaching.

My DS did CE as the final hurdle in the admissions process (following pre-test in Y6, scholarship interview and ordinary interview). The place he was offered was conditional upon a "satisfactory pass in CE". The school he wanted to go to only takes pupils from 13/Year 9.

There was - then, at any rate - a different admissions process for pupils who were at state schools, and it didn't involve CE. I seem to think that the school also funded (means-tested) some pupils to attend a prep school for Years 7 and 8, though you would of course have to have applied very early and have firmly fixed on that senior school. The only real advice anyone could give would be to consult the school you want your child to attend. They will give you the information.

Appreciate that things might have changed meanwhile, though!

EdithWeston Mon 13-Jan-20 08:39:53

I suppose it's a case of whether you go for the normal entry route for a school, or hope they have a late place.

Uppingham is a CE school for all those coming from preps or own Y8 exam for those from other schools including overseas ones. That's a pretty normal approach. I think there's a competitive hurdle at either 11+ both direct, and later entry (confirmed by CE or some other qualifying test/assessment in Y8) or at 13+

AnotherNewt Mon 13-Jan-20 08:31:28

"I think those who are saying it is highly competitive and the marks really count are talking about competitive London day schools where they use a common entrance exam as a first step to whittle down the number of candidates to invite to interview. This exam is taken in January or February and is competitive."

That'll be a pre-test exam, which might be the ISEB one, which an increasing number of schools are using. But it is not CE. That is taken in the summer of Year 8, and marked by the school which has made the offer to each candidate.

trinity0097 Sat 11-Jan-20 21:14:02

It has all changed in the last 12-18 months, so people who think they know what happened with their children are not always giving the right advice.

The reality now is that most schools don’t give a flying monkeys about CE. None of our pupils are sitting it this year, other than CE French for setting at Hampton. The senior school websites may say they want it, but they are quite happy to receive the children they have pre-tested without it in 99% of the cases.

Take Uppingham, a Yr 8 child recently got a place. I emailed the registrar, said we didn’t prepare children for CE and we would send Yr 8 spring reports. They replied back basically saying ‘fine’

Mumto2two Sat 11-Jan-20 08:47:03

One of the schools we are considering, bases their scholarship award on CE performance..or so they say. But this is for girls 11+, so perhaps it is not the case at 13+. Either way, if CE is still required as part of the process, it must still carry some weight, whether for confirming a conditional place, or class setting?
In terms of CE at 13+, when we asked about deferring our place at 11+, we were told one of the conditions for this, is that the child must attend a school which follows the CE curriculum through to 13+.

keyboardwarrior1 Sat 11-Jan-20 08:06:46


Most boarding schools have separate scholarship papers. They do not use CE to offer scholarships.

keyboardwarrior1 Sat 11-Jan-20 08:03:15

I am not sure that we are all talking about the same schools here.

I think that of us who are saying that CE is a formality or not even necessary for those from the state/overseas sectors are mainly talking about non competitive day schools which are outside London or boarding schools. My DC went to schools on the ISEB list. They all successfully took alternative exams for which we did not prepare. The youngest did a computer based pre test at 11 for which we did not prepare either. He was offered a firm place and then told to sit scholarship papers for his preferred school to avoid sitting CE. It was clear that they did not expect to offer him a scholarship - but this was their CE workaround.

I think those who are saying it is highly competitive and the marks really count are talking about competitive London day schools where they use a common entrance exam as a first step to whittle down the number of candidates to invite to interview. This exam is taken in January or February and is competitive.

AnotherNewt Sat 11-Jan-20 08:00:47

Most CE schools base their offers on pretests now, and CE was never a competitive exam, and still isn't.

It's the exam that makes sure you don't stop working in school in years 7&8, as you do need to pass it to fulfill the conditions of your offer. And of course may be used for setting.

You will have been selected for you offer months or even years before ('twas ever this) and even when rebranded as deferred entry, there will be some sort of condition about satisfactory performance up to end year 8

Mumto2two Fri 10-Jan-20 23:37:32

Yes many schools do offer deferred entry, pretest etc..and where CE is used it is more for setting purposes than selection, but it is still part of the overall process nonetheless. What happens if a child has a conditional offer based on pre-test, yet flunks the CE? And all the schools which we’ve considered where CE is required, seem to base any scholarship selections on performance in it can’t be completely defunct.

LIZS Fri 10-Jan-20 22:38:13

Think that list is out of date. Certainly several listed under 13+ near us offer deferred entry and/or pretest. CE is very much a setting exercise rather than for selection purposes and the prep school dc attended which sends more than half its pupils to those at Y9 has already dropped CE.

AMxx Fri 10-Jan-20 22:21:27

Here are the schools which use CE per the examination board ISEB's website:

11+ (mainly girls schools) about 10 or so schools

13+ about 100 or so school both girls, boys & co-ed
The list is quite long I'd say > 100 schools at least.

trinity0097 Fri 10-Jan-20 21:00:55

I work in a top independent prep school. None of our children sit CE,it’s only really necessary for a tiny proportion of schools. We feed all the usual suspects and only Eton are insisting.

BubblesBuddy Fri 10-Jan-20 17:11:24

KS3 at 13. KS2 is y3-y6. I thought this query was CE at 13. I’d ask the school about alternative admissions.

coffeebeanchocolate Fri 10-Jan-20 15:47:38

Hi I think it is very challenging to take CE at state school in terms of gap between CE and KS2 as others say. Also your DC has to spend lots of after school time to prepare for CE with good tutors. If your DC would like to go to private secondary school, 11 plus is definitely more realistic and easier choice. If you are considering 13 plus, then I will strongly recommend to transfer DC to private prep school at year 7. I think lots of prep schools have places from year 7.

If your DC is in year 6 now and already sitting 11 plus this year, he must have prepared a lot until now. Isn't it too much for him/her to do another preparation for 13 plus straightforward after 11 plus? After 13plus, then GCSE is coming soon. It means your DC should use his/her childhood for loads of exam preparation.

AMxx Fri 10-Jan-20 15:13:39

Totally agree Mumto2two! DD was woefully ill prepared - we did a past paper to baseline and it was not pretty. I looked through DD's science books as I'd kept them at the end of the year, shocking just how little science DD had done, and how superficial that she had was. They are looking for breadth & depth of knowledge and skills which simply aren't taught in the state curriculum. Such a shame.. Truthfully, there were also many gaps on the mathematics side too - she'd not done half the topics. The emphasis is also entirely different, they are looking for a completely different level of skill, strong reasoning / application of knowledge. The English is on a different level too, in terms of the reading level. I'd say at least 1-2 years reading level above. Thankfully DD is strong in that area so we've focused on the other 2 topics.

I'm still in shock at how much she's had to assimilate and feel terrible we didn't start sooner. It's taken consistent commitment daily for 6 months. BUT, on the plus her progress has done wonders for her confidence! Not for the faint hearted but for a child who wants it, its an invaluable growth experience.

Fingers crossed for the exams in 10 days!

Mumto2two Fri 10-Jan-20 13:25:59

I agree AMxx, I too am shocked at the gaps there are between KS2 and CE. The science papers we looked at recently, expect use of terminology that was completely unfamiliar to my daughter. And whereas KS2 might have some brief reference to a particular concept, CE questions require a far greater depth and application of that knowledge. For example, questions are posed regarding a scientific experiment, and the child is asked questions about various aspects of the experiment, that are quite vague and indirect, and require the child to know what the variables of the experiment are. For a ten year’s a whole new ball game!

LIZS Fri 10-Jan-20 13:20:57

If you are concerned about back to back exams bear in mind CE is intensive, sat over 4 days in June, am and pm.

Frostyskies1223 Fri 10-Jan-20 13:15:48

The OP has another thread about 2 exams on 1 day, her ds sat 2 x 11plus exams earlier this week.

champagneandfromage50 Fri 10-Jan-20 11:30:36

13 + is very competitive. I would suggest doing 11+ unless you have the time to support your DC at home and do alot of work in helping them prepare. As for the comment by a PP suggesting unless its Eton/Westminster that private schools will take anyone is complete nonsense. My DC went from state to private in yr 7. Where I live has a number of sought after schools and they have over 700 applicants (not Eton /westminster). Schools that suggest you don't need to prepare are fooling you. As a large number of DC are coming from private primary or prep schools and have been getting prepped for years. I don't know anyone who didn't either get a tutor or do a lot of prep with their DC themselves.
Alot of the prep is exam technique and doing practice papers in english, maths NVR and VR. You need to check on the standard expected at the school your applying for as I know even to get into one of our local schools for yr 3 there DC reading age should be 2 yrs ahead. There are lots of resources available and it is very doable to move from state to private

keyboardwarrior1 Fri 10-Jan-20 11:14:40

Speak directly to the schools you are considering.

There are now very few 13+ schools which insist on CE from DC at state/overseas schools. Most have an alternative exam - usually maths, science and English for which no great preparation is needed.

There are some exceptions - but not many.

Michaelahpurple Fri 10-Jan-20 10:46:19

Most schools require a shorter list of subjrcts from children at non-CE schools, sometimes as narrow as maths, english and science, all of which are meant to map. Automakers Curriculum. Galore Park books will shoe what is needed for science. Sometimes french for setting purposes. Ask the schools

AMxx Fri 10-Jan-20 10:28:39

I've done this recently for 11+ entry and my daughter about to sit the exams in a week or so. We decided last summer to go for a private secondary as the state secondary in our catchment is appalling. The schools we targeted use an internal exam for assessment, issue conditional places and then the Common Entrance Exam as a final step. One of the schools included an interview and written work for assessment also. As far as I gather not all who attended assessment were offered a conditional place.

I spoke to the schools regard their internal exams and was told no prep was needed. The assessment would cover Mathematics, verbal and non-verbal. We did some non-verbal prep - a book I purchased from Amazon!

For the Common Entrance I downloaded the curriculums for each exam subject and compared to the state curriculum (I was surprised at how many gaps there were..). Everyone I spoke to said to get a tutor, and that 6 months was not enough time to prepare. My brother, who is a teacher in a private school, strongly recommended I did not get a tutor, instead that DD work to close the gaps independently and do past papers as practice. We got some revision books from Galore Park and an array of past papers. DD has studied for the last 6 months and done one test a week. DD feels confident and prepared. Her past paper results have increased progressively.

It was a lot of work, and she's given up a lot of personal time but she wanted to do it. For me it was always her choice, she could choose to stop any time ( I've felt immensely bad about how much work she's doing at only 10!).

I'd say that's the biggest take-away, it's possible but they need to want to do it. Else the study & time commitment might just be too much. 13+ is also a lot more subjects at 13+ than 11+.

Good luck!!

StartOfRoaringTwenties Fri 10-Jan-20 08:50:56

Talk to the school in question - they may have a different route for those not in a prep school

countrywalks1 Fri 10-Jan-20 08:40:13

I went from state primary to a private boarding in Y7, but most of my peers came in at Y9. I remember distinctly that my mum just bought me a load of verbal and non verbal reasoning question books and pushed me to work through them, ended up doing pretty well and got offered a scholarship (without which wouldn't have been able to go).

Saying that though, knowing my old classmates and other friends' experience, I really don't think many schools rely on CE exclusively. My impression is as long as it's not a Eton/Westminster type place (ie v competitive) and as long as you can pay, most schools will take in anyone.

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