13 Plus (13+) Common Entrance Scholarships and Bursaries Guide


Information about scholarships and bursaries at Common Entrance can be hard to come by, and the process varies hugely from school to school. This guide aims to explain the ins and outs of scholarships and bursaries at Common Entrance.

What is the difference between a scholarship and a bursary?

Scholarships are awarded to students who excel or demonstrate exceptional potential in academic subjects or other pursuits, such as music, art or sport. Bursaries are also intended to attract highly able students, but are awarded on the basis of financial need where parents are unable to afford the full fees. Parents in the clergy or the armed forces may be eligible for special bursaries at certain schools. Many schools have idiosyncratic names, such as exhibitions, for their financial awards, so it is important to familiarise yourself with the process at your chosen school.

What is the value of scholarships and bursaries?

Scholarships vary in value, but are unlikely to be very lucrative financially. Academic scholarships are typically between 10% and 25% of the fees. Awards for the arts or sports are generally smaller. With boarding school fees often in excess of £30,000 per year and many day school fees close to £20,000, this leaves parents with sizeable fees to pay. Schools use means testing procedures to determine the value of the bursaries they offer, and parents should expect to supply financial statements to confirm their need for assistance. Bursaries can be combined with scholarships to increase the value of the financial assistance. In some cases, financial assistance may be worth 100% of the fees with extra help for uniforms and trips on top.

How are scholarships awarded?

Academic scholarships are the most common type of financial award at Common Entrance. Some schools award academic scholarships automatically to the highest achievers on their entrance exams. Other schools require candidates to sit special scholarship papers, so you will need to decide in advance whether to enter your child. Some schools use the ISEB Common Academic Scholarship while others write their own scholarship exams. Scholarships are available for specialist subjects, such as art, music, sport or drama. Candidates will normally be required to attend a separate assessment in their specialist subject in addition to having achieved a requisite standard. For example, potential music scholars may be asked to perform a recital in addition to having achieved a certain grade on one or two instruments. Often, students can apply for and attain scholarships in more than one discipline.

Do scholarships and bursaries recur annually?

The majority of schools assess whether to keep awarding the scholarship or bursary on a yearly basis. For scholarships, this will involve an assessment of whether the student is still meeting the criteria for the award. The requirements here are obvious: academic scholars must meet a certain academic standard, sports scholars must achieve a certain sporting level, and so on. For bursaries, the usual arrangement is an annual financial assessment. This process varies between schools, but is likely to involve an assessment of both income and assets.


There is a vast array of scholarships and bursaries on offer at Common Entrance and arrangements vary widely, so it’s important to speak to schools directly to find out what is on offer.

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