Curtain schools-such as Eton, Harrow and Marlborough – all require applicants to take the pre-test at age 10. Pupils have to complete a non-verbal Maths and English computerised test. However, it’s the interview that’s crucial and applicants are required to show a real grasp of social and conversational skills.
The 11-plus was introduced in 1944 as a means of testing at all schools, including state-maintained, grammar and independent schools. Pupils sit papers in English, maths, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning.
CE forms the basis of entry to independent senior school-although some set their own examinations. Taken by boys at the age of 13 and girls at the age of 11. In co-ed schools CE is often open to both boys and girls at the same time. Subjects taken are maths, English and science (compulsory). Other papers can include modern languages, Latin, history, Greek, geography and religious studies. Each school has their own entry standards. Entry for 11+ takes place in January and 13+ takes place in May/June.
The GCSE assesses Key Stage 4 of the National Curriculum. Pupils are required to choose GCSE subjects in year 9 before commencing studies age 14 in year 10. Most pupils take 9 to 10 subjects, core topics being maths, English and the sciences. They are taught over 2 years and provide progression to AS and A level study or vocational qualifications.
Originally developed for use by international schools the IGCSE examination has been adopted by some independent schools because it is thought to add more flexibility in assessment by stretching the most able candidates. It is marked on the same A*-G scale as the GCSE and is widely recognised by schools, universities and employers as an equivalent.
Composed of 2 units, studied over 2 years: AS and A2. The focus is on traditional study skills and students choose from a range of academic or vocational subjects. Assessment is based on exams and /or coursework. Passes are marked between A*-E grade. Recognised at universities, A levels translate into UCAS points. In AS level pupils choose up to five subjects, but typically four. They have the option to continue with all subjects in the second year (2) or lose one in order to focus. If applying to university students use predicted A level grades and their UCAS application form.
International Baccalaureate (IB)
An alternative to the A level,, the 2-year Diploma programme is recognised internationally for university entrance. Students study 6 courses including maths, science and the humanities. Plus they complete 150 hours of creativity, action and service.
A new post -16 diploma developed by University of Cambridge International Examinations in co-ordination with schools and universities. Many independent schools offer, or plan to offer, the examination. It is considered to be better preparation for university than the A level. Students choose to study 3 principal subjects out of 27. The Ivy League universities in America now accept the Pre-U for admission.