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Eton Entrance Exam: How to prepare for entrance to Eton College

Eton College is one of the UK’s most prestigious independent boys’ schools. Founded by King Henry VI in 1440, it has educated prime ministers, world leaders and Nobel laureates. As such, it may come as no surprise that the process of securing a place is highly competitive. We hope the following article is helpful in your application to Eton College.

What is the admissions process for Eton?

The information below applies to boys coming from the UK independent system. Those coming from the state system will not take Common Entrance but will be required to take exams based on the National Curriculum in English and Maths in the spring term of Year 8 and may also be invited for interview.

There are two main entrance points to become a student at Eton:

  1. 13 Plus Entrance: Boys will join the school in Year 9 (known as ‘F Block’ at Eton) when they are turning 13 years old. The assessment process begins three years prior in Year 6.
  2. 16 Plus entrance: Students will start in Year 12 (known as ‘C Block’ at Eton), the first year of Sixth Form.

There are 3 stages to the admissions procedure with boys being selected to advance to the next stage based on their relative performance. The first two stages are during the academic year of Year 6 which will result, if successful, with a conditional offer. The third and final stage is in Year 8 when the applicants will take Common Entrance or the King’s Scholarship (an additional exam specifically for those wishing to apply for an academic scholarship).

Stage 1: The applicant, in Year 6, will be required to sit the ISEB Common Pre-Test, a computerised test using an age-standardised scoring method which allows the school to understand the academic potential of each applicant. In order to ensure the ISEB Common Pre-Test results are available for the next stage of the admission procedure for Eton we recommend taking the test in October or November of Year 6. This exam consists of English, Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning.

Stage 2: Provided that the applicant passes the ISEB Common Pre-Test they will sit the ‘Eton List Test’. This is also sat in Year 6, in the Spring or Summer term. The Eton List has two parts: an online test (designed to asses a boy’s all-round potential) and an interview. The interview questions are informed by a questionnaire which the boys are asked to complete after the Eton List test. The questionnaire consists of questions about the applicant’s character and extracurricular activities, such as ‘What are your favourite sports?’, ‘Which sports teams do you represent?’, ‘Do you play any instruments and to what level?’, ‘Who are your favourite authors and why?’, ‘How do you feel about boarding school?’, ‘Why Eton?’.

Stage 3: Provided that the applicant is successful following the Eton List Test and Interview, they will be offered a conditional place, which is reliant on them passing the last and final stage of the admissions process – the 13+ Common Entrance Exam and/or The Kings Scholarship (the Eton academic scholarship exam).

More information about the Eton List Test

There is not a great deal of officially published material about the Eton List. The information provided here is based on our personal experience and word-of-mouth knowledge about the test.

The Eton List Test is reportedly similar in its composition to other psychometric online tests such as the ISEB Common Pre-Test. It has been developed in conjunction with Cambridge University’s Psychometric Centre and is designed to accurately predict the academic potential of each boy.

The test consists of:

  1. English: Corrective spelling, punctuation and grammar exercises, comprehension and cloze procedures.
  2. Maths: Challenging word problems, being able to work with lots of information to work out a problem.
  3. Reasoning: Both verbal and non-verbal reasoning which require logical and lateral thinking.

It is important that boys have a good level of computer proficiency, especially being able to type a response to a comprehension question, as well as being able to follow on-screen instructions.

How to prepare for the Eton Entrance Exams

Eton College 600 x 300Preparation for Stage One: The ISEB Common Pre-Test

It is important to remember that the aim of the test is to demonstrate your child’s potential, rather than their current knowledge. The ISEB has released a tips sheet for parents and guardians who would like to support their child’s preparation at home. Please see our ISEB Common Pre-Test page for more in-depth guidance on what the ISEB Pre-Test involves and how to prepare your child.

Preparation for Stage Two:

Similarly to the ISEB Pre-Test, the Eton List Test is aimed to demonstrate potential rather than current knowledge. Although Eton do not release any practice tests, being familiar and engaged with various online 11+ preparation challenges will be helpful. You can find practice essay papers for the Eton List Test here. For additional support and preparation for comprehension, verbal and non-verbal reasoning, arithmetic and interviewing skills please contact us to see how our array of highly experienced tutors can help your child through the admissions process.

What is the scoring system?

UK independent prep schools commonly use the CAT4 test. CAT stands for Cognitive Ability Test and it is one of the world’s most widely used cognitive abilities tests to understand developed ability and likely academic potential. It tests four main areas: Verbal Reasoning, Non-verbal Reasoning, Quantitative reasoning (identifying numerical relationships) and Spatial Ability (reasoning with shapes to transform visual images).

The CAT4 test serves as a data point alongside entrance exams to guide parents through which senior schools may be appropriate for their child.

What is a good score?

There is no definitive answer to this question as the CAT4 produces two scores:

  • A National Percentile Rank (NPR), a score which indicates where your score sits compared to the rest of the cohort. For example, if your score on a test is on the 95th percentile, a common interpretation is that only 5% of the scores were higher than yours.
  • A Standardised Age Score (SAS) – a pupil’s raw score is converted into an SAS by taking into consideration the pupil’s age in years and months relative to a national sample of pupils of the same age. This ensures that pupils who are young for their academic year are not disadvantaged.

The average SAS score is 100. As Eton is highly competitive we can assume that the result should be well above the national average.

Preparation for Stage Three:

For the 13+ Common Entrance Exams, preparation is significantly more broad and advanced than the Pre-Test, or 11 Plus. As a minimum, pupils applying to Eton will need to take Common Entrance exams in English, Maths (including higher level papers), Science and a modern foreign language. Applicants can also take exams in additional Common Entrance subjects from Religious Studies to Classical Greek. Preparation and organisation, as well as regular breaks to boost concentration, are essential when revising for the 13+. For more details about how to prepare your child for the 13+ please see our 13+ Common Entrance page.

How to Register for Admission to Eton

A candidate may be registered for admission up until the 30th June of the school year he turns 10 (UK Year 5). Following this, the only other route of entry will be via scholarships, which are taken in Year 8 for Year 9 entry, or Sixth Form entry which opens in Year 11. Note that only around 16 places are available for sixth-form entry. There are roughly 250 places each academic year with a large amount of applicants (Eton have never disclosed exactly how many applicants they receive).

Options for a Scholarship or Bursary

Eton offer both Scholarships and Bursaries. It is important to note however that the academic scholarships awarded do not carry automatic fee remission. For boys applying for financial aid you can apply for a means-tested bursary in connection with the scholarship to help cover school fees.

Although an academic scholarship by itself does not necessarily automatically award you with fee remissions, being a ‘King’s Scholar’ (the most prestigious type of academic scholarship with Eton offers at 13+), does come with many perks. There are 70 King’s scholars in the whole school – approximately 14 scholarships awarded annually – and they all belong to the same boarding house, known simply as ‘College’.

Eton do not offer sports or arts scholarships despite these abilities being actively encouraged. Sporting and artistic talents also weigh heavily in the selection process.

More about the King’s Scholarship Examination

The examination for potential King’s Scholars is held at Eton in April/May for entrance the following September. Boys must be aged 13 on Monday 1 September of the year of their entry. They do not need to be registered with Eton in order to apply; the application form is relevant only for the current year of entry. The examination is designed so that the questions will allow any boy with strong academic skills to preform outstandingly. The General papers allow candidates with less previous academic support to demonstrate their potential.

The scholarship exam consists of several papers: English, Creative Writing, Maths, Science A, and General I and at least three optional papers (French, Latin, Greek, Maths B, General II or History-Geography-Divinity). For more information on the King’s Scholarship Syllabuses please follow this link. Past papers are found here.

Kings Scholarship admissions deadline for 2024

Online applications will be available from September 2023 until the deadline in late December 2023. Two documents are required for application: a passport style photo and an unabridged copy of the applicant’s birth certificate (if not originally in English there must be a certified translation provided).

If you would like to speak to one of the SLT team about your son’s application, or preparation for entry to Eton, please do not hesitate to contact us.

At Simply Learning Tuition we have been preparing boys for entrance to Eton for more than a decade. Please contact us to see how we can help.

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Eton College Application Tutors

SLT provides expert tuition to help your child prepare for all parts of the Eton pre-test, Eton List and Common Entrance assessments. Each of the tutors listed below is known personally by us, and we will take care to match a tutor with just the right character and teaching style to help your son or daughter excel at literacy, numeracy and verbal and non-verbal reasoning. A tutor who is familiar with the particular entry requirements of the specific day or boarding schools you are applying for can provide invaluable advice about what the school is looking for.

  • Alex H

    Alex H

    Alex is a specialist Maths tutor who works with students from 11+ to Oxbridge level. Additionally, he works with students on their Oxbridge admissions.

  • Faizel

    Faizel

    Faizel is a qualified Primary School Teacher and has worked in one of London's top Independent Prep Schools. He specialises in Entrance Exam Preparation at 7+, 8+ and 11+.

  • Callum

    Callum

    Callum specialises in English and Maths tuition from 7+ up to GCSE, including 11+ and 13+ preparation. He is experienced in teaching children with special educational needs, particularly with English and creative writing.

  • Beth

    Beth

    Beth is a highly experienced tutor who has worked around the world, specialising in English tuition.

  • Verity M

    Verity M

    Verity specialises in online tuition, with a particular focus on English, 7+, 11+ and UKiset tuition.

  • Rajiv

    Rajiv

    Rajiv is an Entrance Exams specialist, specifically English, Maths and Science for the 11+ and 13+ exams. He also teaches Science and Latin up to GCSE level.

  • Matthew S

    Matthew S

    Matthew is a highly multidisciplinary tutor, with a particular specialism in Science, English, Maths and competitive Exam preparation, including the 13+, TSA, PAT, MAT and STEP exams.

  • Alex S

    Alex S

    Alex specialises in English and Maths tuition and has taught many of our home schooled students.


“Because of Russell’s efforts over half term, Doug’s marks in his Common Entrance improved so much! I can’t thank him enough”.
Mrs. T, 11+ Preparation

“Erin made the whole process of the 11+ simpler and instilled great confidence in my son and the belief in himself. Always well presented, punctual and reliable. We would have no hesitation to recommend Erin to anyone”.
Mrs. G, 11+ Preparation

“Adam was a wonderful tutor, who worked hard to build up a rapport with James. James was offered several places and an academic scholarship.
Mrs. S, 13+ Preparation