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 to assess their ‘potential’ for prospective secondary school places at independent schools.
The assessment consists of four sets of tests in the following disciplines:
English (25 mins)
Maths (50 mins)
Verbal reasoning (36 mins)
Non-verbal reasoning (32 mins)
The common pre-tests are a set of multi-choice tests that take around and a half hours to complete.
Tests are usually taken at your child’s school or at selected schools (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 that you have applied for that have opted into the ISEB selection process (please note, not all schools choose to use the ISEB selection process).
Interestingly and predictably, the number of schools opting into the ISEB assessment scheme has increased in the pandemic.
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: Ability to read and understand a text; sentence completion; high level vocabulary; spelling and punctuation
Maths: Content in line with complete year 5 curriculum
Verbal 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/
Wishing you luck and prosperity in this journey.