Introduction to the 8 Plus

How does the 8+ work?

While most prep schools use 7+ exams to admit students in Year 3, there are some schools that will admit at Year 4 using an entrance procedure known as 8+. Generally speaking, the 8+ exams are similar to the 7+ assessments, although the content of the assessment will be pitched at a level that is one year above that of a 7+ exam.

Which schools offer the 8 Plus?

Schools that offer 8+ include:

  • Kings College Wimbledon
  • Latymer Prep
  • Harrodian
  • Colet Court
  • Westminster Cathedral Choir School
  • Westminster Under
  • Dulwich Prep

It is important to note that some schools will have entry points at 7+ and 8+, whilst others only admit at 8+.

Please note that we have deliberately not included schools that offer occasional places in this list, and that this list is by no means exhaustive. An “occasional place” refers to a school filling unexpected vacancies on their roll. The schools listed above set out to add a certain number of students each year through a formal 8 Plus process.

What happens in an 8+ exam?

8+ exams are usually sat in January when your child is in Year 3. Your child will then join the school the following September in Year 4.

Candidates of the 8+ assessments will be tested on the program of study contained within the Key Stage One curriculum as well as the beginning of Key Stage 2. Typically, schools expect achievement anywhere from a low level 3 or above on the National Curriculum. In layman’s terms, this essentially means anywhere from roughly at age-expectations to a good way above that.

The tests at 8+ level typically focus on Reading, Writing and Maths, as well as some work on verbal reasoning or non-verbal reasoning skills. Some schools also run group activities, interviews and may also request a school report from your child’s current school. Some schools will also age-adjust their results.

The precise content varies from school to school, as well as the exact form of the tests so do make sure you research your chosen school’s admissions procedure carefully.

How can I prepare my child for their 8+ exam?

It is impossible to offer specific advice as the range of what is expected is too vast, but generally schools are likely to be expecting anywhere from 2a to 3b on the National Curriculum. If you are unsure where your child is at, the first step should to ask your child’s current school. As teachers ourselves, we speak from experience when we say that schools generally do not like to give out this information. Therefore, do be aware that a request for attainment levels for your child’s Writing, Reading and Maths may not be well received. Your school should however be able to tell you whether your child is working in line with the age-expected attainment.

The age-expected attainment for the end of Year 2 is 2B, whilst the end of Year 3 average attainment level is 3c/3a. Do note that these are UK average attainment levels and that within private schools, it is not uncommon for the class average to be higher than the levels given above.

With 7+ entrance being the more common entry point in schools, the ratio of students going for places at 7+ Plus can be particularly unfavourable. However, this does not mean entrance at 8+ is necessarily a more advantageous move. In schools that offer entry points at both 7+ and 8+, you will usually find that there are more places available for entry at 7+ than at 8+. For example, at one competitive West London school, there are 54 places for Year 3, but only 14 for entrance at Year 4.

For schools that offer both 7+ and 8+ places, children who do not receive a offer of a place at 7+ can usually reapply for an 8+ space at the same school. If your child was particularly close to achieving a place, the school may even ask the child to work on specific area and then reapply the following year for an 8+ entry.

Should you decide to use the services of a tutor, we would be more than happy to help. At Owl Tutors we only employ fully-qualified teachers, and we have a good number of qualified Primary teachers on our books. If you would like to have a look at who we have available, please click here, or of course call us any time on 020 7627 4535.