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Tuesday 30-Aug-2016
【The Standard:Boarding Insider】 Reach for the stars
"I would like my son, who is nine years old, to go to Eton College when he is 13. What tips do you have for getting into elite British boarding schools?"

Given that the peak season for applying to top British schools gets ever closer, I will do my best to answer this question with respect to applying to boarding schools at large and entry specifically at the age of 13.

First of all, parents should not get carried away with word-of-mouth communication or a school's reputation, no matter how esteemed it may be.

It is imperative to visit schools before embarking upon the admissions procedure. This may mean three or four years before the date of entry. Admissions offices welcome parents to open mornings or help to organize individual visits.

Parents should know that entry at 13 to some of Britain's most exclusive boarding schools - such as Eton, Charterhouse, Harrow and Tonbridge - begins when children are around 10 years old. The vast majority of conditional places are offered when candidates are aged 10 or 11.

Therefore, it is essential to be aware of any fixed deadlines for completing and returning registration forms. Eton, for instance, asks parents to send off registration forms and the registration fee before their children are 10.

We never want our children to feel excessive pressure at the age of nine, so parents could gradually explain the demands of the application process of the school in question rather than suddenly transfer masses of information to children and set an excessive number of homework tasks for them to complete.

At the end of Year Five and onwards until the start of Year Six, parents may introduce their children to interview techniques and the format of the ISEB Common Pre-test, which is usually taken in Year Six. In general, a thorough comprehension of the 11+ maths and English syllabus goes a long way to helping candidates do well in the test.

Some schools may set their own pre- tests though more and more schools are opting solely for the ISEB Common Pre-Test.

All in all, getting into a school such as Eton does not necessarily have to require more luck than judgment.

Essentially, by being open to the need to think up to four years in advance, helping children to be well- prepared for tests and encouraging them to flourish and be themselves at interview, we can set them on the path to self-fulfillment and greatness.

​Picture: Eton College 

Original article:

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Education Experts

Samuel Chan, the winner of Alumni Awards 2017, is the founder of Britannia. He had studied in the UK since the age of 9 for 15 years and achieved his master degree in International Political Economy at University of Warwick. Now he shares his experiences and professional advice in education columns in Hong Kong’s major newspapers.


Mabel Chan is the Principal Consultant of Britannia. Having studied in both the UK and the US, she is an expert in school matching for overseas education. She writes education columns for Sing Tao Daily and The Standard, and answers questions arising from parents and students patiently.


MB Cheung, our senior consultant, has been writing education columns for major local newspapers for more than 25 years. With his experience and unique insights, he shares a variety of tips and advice on overseas education for the readers (and DSE students)

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