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ISEB Pretest


The Common Pre-Tests are taken when a pupil is in Year 6 or Year 7 and are an age-standardized measure of ability and attainment. They are commissioned from GL Assessment and are online and adaptive They are in a multiple-choice format and take 2.5 hours to complete.

The tests include:

  • Verbal Reasoning (36 minutes)
  • Mathematics (50 minutes)
  • Non-Verbal Reasoning (32 minutes)
  • English (25 minutes)

The tests can be taken together or at separate times either in the candidate's own school or at the senior school for which he or she is entered.

Candidates sit the Independent Schools Examinations Board (ISEB) Common Pre-Test at their current school. This is a computer-based test in English, Mathematics and Reasoning (both verbal and non-verbal). 

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How it Works

Prep schools will have their own arrangements for the administration of this test and candidates are encouraged to sit the test between 1st October and 1st February of Year 6.

It is important to note that the test is age-standardized and candidates are therefore at no disadvantage if they sit the exam earlier, rather than later.

If the candidate attends a school that does not administer the ISEB test, then arrangements can be made for them to sit the test at Brighton College; the Admissions Department will be happy to assist with this.

The Common Pre-Tests are age-standardized tests used to assess pupils' attainment and potential when they are in Year 6 or Year 7, prior to entry to their senior schools. If your son or daughter is offered a place after completing these tests, they will normally still be required to sit the Common Entrance examinations in Year 8.

Senior schools will inform parents if they use the Common Pre-Tests and will register the candidates. Parents do not need to register their children for the Common Pre-Tests.

Children applying to multiple schools which use the Common Pre-Test will only take the test once per academic year. The set of results obtained will be shared with all schools registering that candidate. In the very unlikely event of a candidate taking the tests more than once within a single academic year, the school(s) will be informed and the first set of results will stand.

Here is a list of the current Senoir schools using the ISEB Common Pretest.

What Does Each of the Subjects Test?

1. Verbal Reasoning 

  • Common words
  • Antonyms
  • Word combinations
  • Letter transfer
  • Number codes

2. Non-verbal reasoning tests

  • Shape analogies
  • Classes like
  • Horizontal codes

3. English

  • Reading comprehension
  • Sentence completion
  • Spelling
  • Punctuation

4. Mathematics

  • The content of the mathematics test is in line with the National Curriculum, The range of topics is checked by a member of the ISEB 11+ setting team
  • Candidates are assessed on National Curriculum topics taught up to the end of Year 5

Extra Information About the ISEB Pretest

  1. No special preparation is needed for the tests and no practice tests are available. (BOFA recommends these pretests)
  2. Examples and practice questions, where relevant, are provided during the tests so that candidates understand what they have to do.
  3. Each question is answered by choosing an answer from a selection shown on the screen.
  4. Each question must be answered and candidates cannot go back to previous questions.
  5. While taking the tests, candidates are able to track their progress within the test (number of questions answered in relation to the overall number of questions).
  6. A timer is also displayed to show the amount of time remaining. A candidate should aim to answer every question and reach the end of the test.
  7. The system does not compensate a candidate who, for example, only answered a few questions but answered them all correctly.

For more information about the ISEB Pretest in schools across the country, take a look at our ISEB Assessment page!

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