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【The Standard:Study in the UK】Be prepared for a battery of tests

Boarding 101


The admissions process to UK independent schools in Year 9 is broadly similar for most of the top ones.

Growing competition for 13+ entry to major schools in recent years has led to some changes with schools looking to establish which students might be the “cream of the crop” years before they take the Common Entrance (CE) examination in Year 8.


It has come to light in the media in recent months just how spoilt for choice Hong Kong parents will be with UK schools eager to set up model prep schools in Hong Kong.


Clearly, families will be in safe hands, but parents still need to be in the know when it comes to the timing of testing procedures and application deadlines to leading schools.


Hong Kong parents should keep in mind that different secondary schools set varying requirements for entry which may stretch beyond CE papers taken at the end of Year 8.


For example, schools such as Harrow, Brighton and Mount Kelly seek early applications and demand that Common ISEB Pre-Tests are taken when a pupil is in Year 6 or Year 7.


The Pre-Tests are taken online and cover reasoning, English and mathematics.


Upon their successful completion, a school may ask candidates to sit tests created by the school itself in which they may have to write an essay and take further mathematics and English tests. Of course, prospective pupils will also be interviewed – another area which Hong Kong parents should not overlook.


Pre-Tests have come in for some criticism, mostly surrounding the perceived pressure pupils are put under before they even contemplate the 13+ exams.


Despite this, upon passing the Common Pre-Tests, children are offered places at schools, conditional on then passing the CE, which to some extents minimises the pressure in Year 7 and 8.


The 13+ Common Entrance examination is strongly supported by many of the top prep and independent senior schools in the UK.


Common Entrance is characterized by rigorous syllabuses which are broad and balanced.


Consequently, there is a firm academic focus for pupils in Years 7 and 8, ensuring that they are well-prepared to study for GCSEs from Year 10.


Independent schools are seeking to assess a student’s ability and learning potential earlier than ever and in more varied ways than ever.


UKiset – which performs as a scientific integration of reasoning tests and language assessments – is another case in point.


Hong Kong parents need to be informed of the requirements of these tests, when they are taken and which tests certain schools may favour. 


Samuel Chan is a director at Britannia StudyLink. 

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