What is the ISEB Pre-Test?


7 Plus, 8 Plus, 11 Plus, 13 Plus, Other School Entrance, English, Maths & Psychology

May 27th, 2022

Last updated: June 14th, 2022

What is the ISEB Pre-Test?

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 Pre-Test

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.

What does the ISEB consist of?

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.

What will be assessed?

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.

What resources can I use?

  1. Galore park have created practise books that are specifically targeted at Independent school preparation (https://www.galorepark.co.uk). Select books that state they are suitable for ‘common pre-test/11+’. These can be found on Amazon.
  2. When your child is feeling more confident with the task at hand why not have a go at the ISEB familiarisation test that can be found of their website. This will be useful in helping your child understand what to expect on the day: https://testwise.testingforschools.com/tests/player-demo-iseb/#/
  3. Other online platforms that have been developed that many schools are opting to use in preparation for this set of tests are Atom learning (https://atomlearning.co.uk/) and BOFA (bofa11plus.com): Both resources aim to recreate the same kind of online, adaptive assessment process that pupils will be faced with in the ISEB and are helpful in question and test familiarity. They cover all four areas of assessment and give feedback about the pupil’s performance and areas for improvement.
  4. Answering questions under timed conditions: Simply practising the art of answering questions under time pressure will also help to prepare your child for the ‘real thing’ and build up the mental stamina to be able to meet the demands of a 50 min maths exam.
  5. Find a tutor with experience in supporting pupils with Common Pre-test experience. Finding the right person to support your child on this journey can help the process seem more enjoyable, take the pressure off you as a busy parent and ensure you are accessing up-to-date information.

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.

More about Ally

Ally qualified as a teacher in Primary education in 2011, and now works as a tutor with Owl Tutors.

Related subjects

11 Plus English 11 Plus

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