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13 Plus Tutors 13+ Schools Entrance Exams Thirteen Plus Secondary Schools

13 Plus Tutors – 13+ Schools Entrance Exams


13 Plus Schools Entrance, Academic Consultancy & Boarding School Entrance

We provide a comprehensive service for thirteen plus (13+) schools placement and entrance exam preparation including tailored services in Maths, English (Comprehension), Science and other subjects. We can also assist with the application procedure as well as school open days and interview advice. An important part of the procedure is not only matching the child to a school where they will thrive academically but moreover to place them where the pupil will be happy and flourish. Our 13 Plus tutors can help guide you through the 13+ Exams to secondary schools and boarding schools in the UK as well as provide educational consultancy services to ensure you find the right match of secondary school for your child.


What does the 13+ mean?

The 13+ examinations are Common Entrance exams, used to assess candidates for entry into senior schools. Students sit the 13+ exams in Year 8 of secondary school, between the Spring and Summer terms. On occasion there are papers produced in the Autumn term, though these are typically reserved as mock examinations to prepare learners for their Summer term exams. It is usual for all private schools to admit pupils in Year 9 following the 13+ (otherwise known as “Common Entrance”) exams. The structure of the exams can vary across different schools and content is often specific to the school that you are attending. This is because most public schools use the 13+ exams to help them efficiently and effectively select the right pupils for their school. The 13+ exams are typically between 40 and 90 minutes in duration and cover the core subjects, including English, Mathematics and Science. Many schools also require their students to participate in papers similar in subject content to the 11+ exams, including Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. Students may also be encouraged to sit papers in the Humanities (History and Geography) and to engage with ancient and modern Languages. The 13+ Common Entrance exam is ultimately a challenge used by independent schools to secure high achieving students to their institution. Our 13 Plus Tutors can help you navigate the schools entrance procedure and 13+ Exams.


Examination boards:

The 13 Plus (13+) examinations can be set by the school themselves or using the Common Entrance (CE) papers, prepared by the Independent Schools Examination Board (ISEB). It is relevant and important to research whether your child’s school is using their own exams or ISEB’s CE papers as exams set by schools can be a higher level of difficulty due to the prestigious nature of self-set exams.


What is the pass mark?

The passing criteria varies from year to year and also varies across different schools. Spaces are limited due to high numbers of applicants, but certain schools will publish their specimen papers from time to time. There is no official pass mark for the 13+ exams, though select schools do offer their own attainment levels, averaging between 55 and 60%. A pass rate mark of above 60% is deemed as selective, with anything above 70% viewed as exceptionally selective. It should be considered that certain schools will accept lower scores in certain subjects if there is evidence of high achievement in other subjects. The cases are individual, but if your child has a natural aptitude for English and Maths, but has struggled with their Science exams, schools may choose to focus on the potential in the stronger subjects and accept the lower grade if the higher grades surpass the schools own pass mark. Students examination papers are graded by the teachers at the senior school that the learner has applied to.


What level will my child be tested at for 13 Plus (13+) ?

Pupils can be tested at four levels on their core subject knowledge (English, Mathematics and Science). These levels are: Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 and CASE (Common Academic Scholarship Exam). CASE is used most commonly to identify students with exceptional knowledge and skill in set subjects, with an accompanying opportunity to gain a scholarship and/ or reduced school fees upon an acceptance to the school. The ISEB 13+ Common Entrance exams are in effect pre-GCSE course exams that assess students across Levels 1-3. For context behind the challenge rate of the Levels, a Level 1 assessment is typically attainable for the average Year 7 pupil, with Levels 2 and 3 reflecting a similar challenge rate of that of a Year 10 pupil.


What subjects will my child have examinations on & how can 13 Plus Tutors help?

It is standard practice for learners participating in their 13+ exams to sit papers on English, Maths and Science (the core subjects), with most pupils also taking papers in History, Geography, Religious Studies (R.E) and French. There is also a selection of optional additional language papers, including Classical Greek, Latin, German, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. The length of the papers is often around an hour in duration with a syllabus covering a broad range of subjects. It is important to note that certain subjects consist of papers set at various levels to reflect the ability of the learner or the years the student has spent studying the subject. The school that your child currently attends should be able to offer you further insight into this, enabling your child to properly prepare for the correct exams. The level of the paper is determined by the junior and senior school to appropriately set learners up to be challenged at an appropriate level. Papers last between 40 and 90 minutes, with components including subject content and level determining the definitive exam duration. Speaking examinations are common for ancient and modern language subjects and exam content is not restricted to writing, with Mathematics sometimes requiring mental arithmetic skills.

English consists of two papers, both of which involve reading and writing elements. Most pupils will sit the Level 2 paper (deemed as standard) and will be given reading and writing tasks. The reading task involves reviewing and analysing an unseen passage, demonstrating your child’s comprehension of the words and ability to understand difficult words. The writing element is focused around writing a piece of creative writing, from a title prompt. This is with the intent of reviewing your child’s creativity and ability to construct a narrative with a wide range of vocabulary.

Mathematics consists of three papers, split into calculator, non-calculator and mental arithmetic. Most learners will sit Level 2 for the calculator and non-calculator papers, with the mental arithmetic test being delivered via an audio CD, requiring students to record their answers on paper upon hearing the questions.

Science consists of two different styles of exam either broken down into three separate exams (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) at Level 2, or (for those who are higher achievers), delivered as a combined paper at Level 3.

French is divided into four sections, consisting of listening, reading, writing and speaking. Learners will most commonly sit these exams at Level 2 and will be assessed in each of the sections. The French Vocabulary for Key Stage 3 and Common Entrance book is a useful resource for efficient revision for these exams.

History consists of the same paper for all levels. Divided into two sections, the first requiring learners to select a time period and answer an overarching question using three sources of information. These time periods include: Medieval Realms: Britain 1066-1485, The Making of the United Kingdom: 1485-1750 and Britain and Empire: 1750-1914. The second section requires learners to select a question from a broad selection and use their knowledge to effectively answer it.

Geography also consists of one paper for all of the learners who take Geography, made up of three sections. These sections include ‘Global Location’ – learners answer questions with reference to a given map, ‘Ordnance Survey Mapwork’ – answer questions about an Ordnance Survey map extract and ‘Thematic Studies’. Students are presented with five questions, from five themes, selecting one question from each of the themes.

Religious Studies involves learners sitting one paper from either Syllabus A or B, (dependent on the content that your child has studied at school). Syllabus A is comprised of Biblical Studies, Contemporary Issues and World Religions, divided up into three section: Section 1 ‘The Old Testament’, Section 2, ‘The New Testament’ and Section 3 ‘World Religions and Contemporary Issues’. Syllabus A is the more common paper, with most students sitting the Syllabus A paper. Syllabus B is comprised of the Roman Catholic Churches central doctrines, Biblical Studies and Contemporary Issues. Similarly, the paper is divided into three sections: Section 1 ‘The Old Covenant’, Section 2 ‘The New Covenant’ and Section 3 ‘The Origins and Practices of the Church’. Pupils have the option to contribute a piece of their coursework in place of Section 3.

Latin involves translation tasks and the ability to demonstrate understanding of given passages of Latin. This is then followed by non-linguistic questions on Roman life and Greek mythology. Level 2 is sat by the majority of learners, with the Level 1 paper reserved for those who have only studied the language for a short time.

Classical Greek involves levels of translation and a testing of Greek grammar, levelled again using the Level 1 to 3 structure to reflect learners abilities based on the amount of time they have been studying the language.

German is divided into four sections, of which learners are assessed in all four. These sections include listening, reading, writing and speaking.

Spanish is similarly divided into four sections including listening, reading, writing and speaking. Learners are assessed in all areas with the Spanish Vocabulary for Key Stage 3 and Common Entrance book acting as a useful investment for ensuring that your child’s vocabulary is at an advantageous level.

Mandarin Chinese is also divided into four sections including listening, reading, writing and speaking, with most learners participating in the Level 2 exam.

A useful link for finding out more about the 13 Plus (13+) exams will take you to the ISEB website. 


How do I prepare my child for the 13 Plus (13+) exams & 13 Plus Tutors.

It is important to focus revision on the core subjects (English, Maths and Science) as these are the key elements that every student participating in the 13+ exams will have papers on. Plan ahead and encourage your child to ask their teacher for guidance on the year’s curricula, this will enable your child to plan ahead and create enough time to effectively revise before the exams. The 13+ Common Entrance exams require your child to both know the syllabus content and to apply this knowledge within exam conditions. Revising by practicing past exam papers and mock papers will enable your child to become accustomed to the wording of specific questions and to interpret them at a quicker pace with time. This will be useful particularly when approaching tricky-worded questions in mathematics and science papers that require a certain level of interpretation to best understand what the question is asking. Create time restrictions on your child’s revision, homework and mock exam prep. This will enable them to get used to working under a time sensitive environment and will also help to scathe overworking. It is important to take time off and do something relaxing to create time for your brain to compute all that it has taken in. Stress is avoidable with good planning and effective implementation of time restrictions. Applying knowledge appropriately means using the content that you have learnt over the past year and adapting it to the questions posed in the papers. Consider the papers as an opportunity to explore your knowledge, applying it to scenarios to provide solutions to problems.


What questions are commonly asked in interviews?

Questions in interviews can range from personal and relaxed, to subject specific and school centred, so it is important to consider what your child is likely to be asked about and prepare some answers that reflect your child’s personality, genuine interests and personal strengths.

Typical areas that are covered in interviews include questions around your personal home life, your school, your hobbies/ how you spend your free time and your independent goals that you wish to set for your time at your intended school. Shorter interviews typically last between 15 to 20 minutes in duration, with the main goal of assessing who you are as a person and how you intend to contribute to the school’s growth (what can you bring to the school?).

Extended questioning may be concerned with more abstract questioning, with the overarching aim of establishing strengths that you have (whether it be abstract thinking or the ability to think on your feet). Some topics may include discussing how others would describe you, completing mini tasks such as “fill the gap”, and encouraging creative thinking. The interview is a great time for the school to get to know you, not just as a candidate, but as an individual; see the interview as an opportunity rather than a hurdle and you are half-way there.

If you would like to arrange 13 Plus tutors or schools entrance consultancy or enquire about our schools placement service in England as well as schools entrance tests please call us on Tel: +44 (0) 207 665 6606 or you can send us an email via our contact form.


Useful 13 Plus Tutors resources:


13 Plus School Entrance Test Past Papers

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