In this article, Ally, an experienced teacher and school entrance specialist, explains what the ISEB test is and why it has become increasingly popular with independent schools.
The ISEB (Independent Schools Examination Board) common Pre-Test is an online, adaptive set of tests that are usually taken by pupils in Year Six or Seven to assess their ‘potential’ for prospective 11+ or 13+ places at independent schools.
The assessment consists of four sets of tests in the following disciplines:
The ISEB common pre-tests are a set of multi-choice tests that take around two hours and fifteen minutes complete.
Tests are usually taken at your child’s school or a senior school (if your child is not currently in attendance at a prep school). Pupils sit one set of assessments, the outcome of which is shared with all secondary schools which you have applied for that have opted into the ISEB selection process (please note, not all schools choose to use the ISEB selection process). For overseas candidates, tests can be taken at an approved centre.
Some schools are known to select pupils purely from the raw ISEB test score, whilst others use the ISEB score to decide who they will invite for further testing. It is important to understand the process for each school you are applying for as these do differ.
English: There are two sections: reading comprehension and grammar. Within these sections, the following skills are assessed: ability to read and understand a text; sentence completion; understanding high level vocabulary; spelling and punctuation; comparing texts. There are several short texts of between 300 and 500 words on which the questions are based, so it is important to practise with different types of text.
Maths: The content for the Mathematics section of the ISEB Common Pre-Test is in line with the complete Year 5 curriculum; there will also be some extension-style questions based on this.
Verbal reasoning:This includes shape analogies, classes of shape, missing patterns and sequencing. The NVR section of the ISEB Common Pre-Test includes spatial reasoning. This includes synonyms, antonyms, code words, number codes, word combinations and letter transfer questions.
Non-verbal reasoning: shape analogies, classes of shape, missing patterns, sequencing.
Being adaptive in nature, your child will gain an understanding of how well the test is going if the questions are getting progressively harder.
Some children may find these assessments nerve wracking, and whilst the ISEB website itself states ‘no special preparation is required’, this is not necessarily true. Familiarity with the question pitch and type, will help pupils to feel more at ease with the assessment process and enable them to feel more confident about their ability to perform well. Moreover, there are some great resources available that do help to prepare children to face this task.
For further information, on the ISEB Common entrance exams please follow the link to their website: https://www.iseb.co.uk/
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