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13 Plus Exam Tips

The 13+ Common Entrance is the final stage in the application for many independent senior schools in the UK. The exams are taken by pupils in Year 8, and are broader and more challenging than any other exams your child is likely to have tackled before. This article will take you through everything you need to know about your child’s 13 Plus Common Entrance, and give you expert top tips from the private tutors we work with.

Your child may also benefit from the support of a private tutor to build their confidence, subject knowledge and exam technique for this exam. Please call one of our experienced team or use our online enquiry form to find an expert 13+ tutor suited to your child’s learning requirements and personality.

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What does the 13 Plus (13+) Common Entrance test?

As well as English, Maths and Science, your child may be asked to sit additional papers ranging from French to Religious Studies to Classical Greek. Some schools set their own 13 Plus exam papers, while other use the Common Entrance exam papers written by the Independent Schools Examination Board (ISEB).

How Does the Process Work?

The first step in the 13 Plus entry process is to register your child with the schools you are considering. Depending on the school, this may be anywhere between 1 and 4 years before their year of entry.

They may be required to sit a pre-test, typically in the autumn term of Year 6. Usually this will be the ISEB Common Pre-test, typically taken in November of Year 6 and sat at your child’s prep school. Children applying to multiple schools which use the Common Pre-Test will only only need to sit the test once – their results will then be shared with all the schools they are applying to. The pre-test usually assesses Maths, English, verbal and non-verbal reasoning, and is used to help the school filter prospective applicants.

If your child meets the standards set by the school in their pre-test, they may receive an offer that is conditional on them passing their Common Entrance exam papers in Year 8. Some of the most competitive schools may first ask them to sit another assessment at 11+, later in Year 6, before issuing conditional offers.

The Common Entrance is taken in Year 8 and is the final stage of assessments before students receive their confirmed places at senior school, starting in September of Year 9.

How should my child revise for the 13 Plus Common Entrance Exam?

There are many essential components to revising effectively for the 13 Plus Common Entrance Exam. Regular breaks are very important. Even a five or ten-minute break can be extremely restorative and your child will return to revision with new focus. It is important that your child doesn’t use their break to read a book, watch television or to play computer games. This should be the time for their brain to process what they have just learned.

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Being organised is also essential for effective revision. Help your child to create a revision timetable, which factors in five to ten minute breaks and prevents them from doing too much in one go. Give your child little rewards for completing their revision time. It is also important to find a designated place for your child’s revision. This place should be quiet and free of distractions, as well as be fully stocked with the materials they will need for revision, from colourful highlighters to plenty of paper.

Past papers are essential tools for revision and can help your child understand the structure of the papers and the type of questions they may be asked. They also come with a mark scheme, which can highlight where marks will be rewarded and what is required for higher marks. Your child may also benefit from additional support to ensure these past papers are used effectively. in order to master essential exam techniques.

We introduce the highest calibre of private tutors who can help your child with their 13 Plus Common Entrance exam by building their confidence, bridging any knowledge gaps, and helping them to master essential exam techniques.

How do I prepare my child for the 13 Plus Common Entrance Exam Day?

It is important your child isn’t worried about anything other than their paper on exam day. To reduce any potential stress, help your child to pack their bag and prepare their pencil case the night before. Ensure they also know exactly where their exams are and what time they will be taking place. It is important they have a good breakfast and have plenty of water to take into the exam with them too.

If you are searching for last-minute tips for your child on the day, advise them to read the front of the paper carefully and the whole paper beforehand to work out how they will need to spend on each question. Remind them to plan and think through their answers carefully before writing their answer. Above all, wish your child good luck and reassure them that they have the knowledge and ability to excel in their exam. There is nothing more powerful than confidence.