Common Entrance - Exam papers and syllabi

Books for Common Entrance

Pre-Prep school entry and suggestions

Here are some papers to help you to prepare your child for entry to pre-prep schools.Many Independent schools invite any children who might enter the school to visit for the day and experience their environment. During this routine day the children may be introduced to their prospective class teacher and join in some activities. The children also have the opportunity to enjoy the sports facilities, meet other pupils, find their way around the school, enjoy lunch and perhaps even do a science experiment! Here are some ideas of ways that you, as parents, can prepare your child for that day.

Reception maths paper
Maths paper for entry to pre-prep
Entry to pre-prep schools
Guidelines for entry to independent schools

Prep school test papers and syllabi 

There are times when parents find it necessary to change their child's school. Some of the Independent schools may invite your child to join the timetable for that day. They will certainly have a Maths lesson, English work and perhaps join in PE or Sport lessons. The children will enjoy lunch and talk to other pupils, staff and perhaps even the Headmaster/Headmistress. Below you will find some syllabi for different age groups and ideas which can prepare your child to thoroughly enjoy the day.

Prep school examinations at 7
Prep school examinations at 8
Prep school examinations at 9
Prep school examinations at 10
Maths paper for entry to Prep school at 7
Revision questions for KS1 maths 2

Senior School Entrance examinations - at 11

There are many ways to get entry to an Independent school at 11. Some schools have their own examinations which are set by the staff.  There may be examples of these to be found on the school's website or if not the school may provide some ideas of entry exams syllabi. Other schools sit the Common Entrance examination set by ISEB. There are examples of their examinations and syllabi on their website. We have compiled some papers below to help you ensure that your child does his/her best on the day. The Headmaster/Headmistress may also interview your child  and discover any special talents that your child may have to offer the school. They are always interested in musical, sport or other interests which differentiate your child from the other candidates. We show below just a sample of the many papers available to members of Parents in Touch.
Please search in the Worksheet Finder under 11+/Common Entrance for more. We provide links to a selection of papers for entry at 11+ and 13+ - please note that many of these do not include answers.

11+ English paper 2
11+ maths traditional 4
English entrance examination at 11
English paper for CE at 11a
Maths CE at 11 paper 1
Maths paper for CE at 11a
Sample English 11+paper
Maths paper for 11 years old- multichoice
Year 6 English practice test d
11+ English practice paper 4
North London Girls' comprehension sample test
North London Girls' maths sample test
Dulwich College Y7 English entrance exam
Dulwich College maths specimen paper at 11
King's School Chester maths entrance exam 11
King's School Chester English exam at 11
MGS arithmetic paper 2 at 11
MGS arithmetic paper 2 at 11 answers
Queen's School English at 11 answer booklet
Queen's School English at 11 reading booklet
Warwick School 11+ English
Warwick School 11+ maths
St George's College 11+ maths
St George's College 11+ English
Merchant Taylor's School English 11+
Merchant Taylor's School maths 11+
N London Independent Girls' Y7 English 2013
N London Independent Girls' Y7 maths 2013
Bancroft's School sample 11+ maths
Bancroft's School sample 11+ English
Colet Court 11+ reasoning paper

Senior School Entrance examinations - at 13

There are some schools which have entry at 13+. These schools will be looking for a greater variety of subjects and may use the Common Entrance Board examinations so that all pupils from different schools are all taught and examined on the same syllabi and by the same exams. Maths, English, History, Geography, Science, French/Spanish, R.E. and perhaps music might be examined. Below, you will find useful papers - please note that not all papers include answers. Here is a link which gives you access to past papers:

13 maths Common Entrance
13+ English paper
13+Maths CE paper 4
CE English questions
Common entrance maths at 13
English exam at 13
English paper for CE at 13 a
Maths CE at 13
Geography syllabus at 13
Syllabi for Entry to Senior school at 13
Dulwich College Y9 English entrance exam
Dulwich College maths specimen paper at 13
City of London School maths at 13+
Kent College 13+ science paper
Oundle School 2011 English 3rd & 4th form
Oundle School 2011 maths 3rd form entry
Oundle School 2011 maths 4th form entry
Oundle School 2011 science 3rd & 4th form
MCS 13+ entrance examination English
MCS 13+ entrance examination maths
MCS 13+ entrance examination French
MCS 13+ entrance examination German
MCS 13+ entrance examination Spanish
Merchant Taylor's School Latin 13+

Common Entrance Books and Revision Help

11+ English Comprehension by RSL: Volume 2 by Robert Lomax

This invaluable pack contains 8 practice papers with detailed answers and explanations for 11 Plus , Common Entrance and for children working at greater depth. The RSL series has been highly acclaimed for its realistic, challenging approach to exam practice. What really sets this series apart is the in-depth answers which are included - with the solutions and detailed advice for every question: any parent can confidently be a tutor for their own children. The comprehension texts are chosen for interest and variety - I am impressed with the range which has something to appeal to everyone. As children's knowledge and confidence increases, they will benefit from the increasing difficulty level of the papers in difficulty, from standard (ISEB level) to challenging. Each of the 8 papers has its own answers and guidance - there are 90 A4 pages. Exams at 11+ take many different formats - it's good for children to experience different formats (as they may do if they take more than one entrance exam) so the 4 structures in this pask are really useful. Answer sheets explain the lessons to learn from each question with sample solutions, often with alternatives, for all questions. Robert Lomax is a highly experienced professional tutor and his hands-on experience is very much to the fore in his exceptionally good packs. Visit the RSL website for more information.

11+ Maths by RSL: Volume 1 by Robert Lomax

Support your child's learning and give them confidence when tackling exams with this pack of practice papers with detailed answers and explanations for 11+ and Common Entrance exams. It  is the depth to which these papers go in providing comprehensive answers and guidance that is really impressive - parents will find it enormously beneficial to spend time going through the answers with their children. Detailed advice on techniques to use in exams are very valuable, especially for pupils whose schools do not prepare them for 11+/CE.. The questions are interesting and varied, making good use of topics that will excite children's interest, and they reflect all the different types of question that children could experience. The papers build in difficulty, from standard (ISEB level) to advanced level, giving a useful progression. The quality of writing is excellent, with both questions and answers being clear and unambiguous. With 6 papers, 2 at each level, each with its own answers and guidance, in total there are almost 180 pages. The tests are specifically designed for independent school entrance tests and the variety in question types will mean children are well prepared. Another excellent set. Visit the RSL website for more information.

RSL 13+ Comprehension by Robert Lomax

These are "Practice Papers with Detailed Answers and Question-by-Question Feedback for 13 Plus English". The set includes eight comprehensions - The Kraken, Two Months at Sea, Remember and Two Years a Slave - are some of the titles; the difficulty increases through the pack. They are suitable for preparation for Common Entrance English, from ISEB to scholarship level. What sets these papers aside from others on the market is the fact that full solutions and really detailed advice are included for every question. The papers are designed for adults to use to support their children and this comprehensive bank of answers and advice means parents can help their child with confidence. There are 5 structures of test to help pupils tackle a range of exam styles. The author is a highly experienced tutor and this pack draws on that experience to provide a really valuable resource; the detailed answers and explanations are unique and will be of enormous help to CE candidates.

Mathematics Year 4 by David Hillard

Galore Park produce a range of books which are excellent for Common Entrance and also useful for parents and teachers wanting to stretch children. Mathematics Year 4 exceeds the requirements of the new National Curriculum, challenging pupils with the revision of basic numerical skills, as well as introducing new material on topics such as negative numbers, decimals, inequalities and perimeter and area. This book usefully combines the traditional standard method with the mental approach to challenge all abilities. The practical end-of-chapter activities and summary exercises are ideal to engage pupils and consolidate the information learned. I was really impressed with the layout of this book - it's a substantial book which could look daunting to children but this has been avoided by good use of colour and layout to separate out the various sections. It is a good combination of teaching guidance and practice questions which will really extend pupils' knowledge and understanding. If your child will be taking 11+ or Common Entrance exams, starting early is an excellent idea - this series has books for Years 3 to 6, ensuring progression. You will probably need Mathematics Year 4 Answers to accompany this book.

Science for Common Entrance 13+ Exam Practice Questions by W.R. Pickering

Practise 13+ Science with this wealth of exam-style questions that have been designed to reflect the style and level of the ISEB Common Entrance Science exam and which is suitable for exams from September 2017. It's good to see this book available well in advance, so there's plenty of time to practise. The range of questions helps pupils improve their exam technique and provides realistic practice for biology, chemistry and physics exams at 13+; the questions are arranged by topic. The book covers every 13+ topic for Biology, Chemistry and Physics, but if you want more in-depth coverage, take a look at the rest of the Galore Park 13+ science range. In addition to valuable learning and revision, the value of using books like this is familiarisation for pupils with the type of questions they will face in the exam and the way they identify strengths and weaknesses using topic-based exercises. - Suitable for ISEB 13+ Mathematics Common Entrance exams taken from Autumn 2017 onwards I'd recommend Science for Common Entrance 13+ Exam Practice Answers to accompany this book.

11+ Verbal Reasoning Study and Revision Guide by Sarah Collins and Andrew Hammond

This book is for 11+, pre-test and independent school exams including CEM, GL and ISEB; it starts with an extremely useful section on how to use the book, ensuring that children get the best from it. There are many different types of verbal reasoning questions so it is essential to give children plenty of experience in tackling questions. This book both explains the types of questions and tests understanding questions on specific topics and a wide range of question papers - the answers are included in the book. Challenging extension material ensures pupils have confidence and this is added to with helpful insight in to the exams, with examples, practical tips and expert advice. Pupils can struggle when it comes to timed tests, so the preparation for exam conditions with realistic timings will be invaluable. Summary Tests with detailed answer guidance help to show areas that need extra help. Clear links between Verbal Reasoning and the existing study of English help to make the topic more meaningful. Among many others, topics include constructing words, understanding word meaning, working with numbers and algebra, and developing logic skills. An excellent book which will provide much-needed preparation.

RSL 11+ Comprehension: Practice Papers by Robert Lomax

The subtitle tell us that these papers come 'with Detailed Answers and Question-by-Question Feedback for 11 Plus English' and that is exactly what this selection of papers does. The papers provide excellent 11+ and Common Entrance practice as there are four different formats used (but no multiple choice). The initial guidance suggests working through the papers in order, as the question types do get steadily more challenging. The passages are from well-known cl;assic works. What really sets these papers apart from others lies in the comprehensive help given in the answer sheets; each gives a correct answer (remember that in comprehension, there can sometimes be different but correct answers) followed by detailed explanations about both the specific question and general advice on the wording used in questions and what the examiners are looking for in response. This will be really valuable for parents helping their children and also for teachers who are not familiar with the process. An excellent pack that will be an invaluable resource for parents, teachers and tutors.

Reading & Comprehension Workbook Age 9-11 by Susan Elkin

This write-in workbook from Galore Park for pupils aged 9-11 provides 25 varied passages covering the different types of comprehension children will experience, including fiction (contemporary and classic), factual writing and poetry. with questions, tips and advice. Suggested answers are included in a pull-out section but as the author points out, there are few right or wrong answers in this type of work. The answers are detailed, giving an excellent guide for children to encourage them to answer in depth. The passages will help pupils appreciate how writers use language to create effects; improve their use and understanding of vocabulary; write in-depth answers. Short introductions helpfully put each passage into context and there are useful tips on answering comprehension questions. Ideal for revising and consolidating work done in class as well as for revision for SATS, CE and 11+, with an excellent range of passages.

Grammar & Punctuation Workbook Age 9-11 by Susan Elkin

Working through practice exercises gives children the best chance of success in Pre-Tests, CE and 11+ exams. This book contains varied and thorough grammar and punctuation exercises to give pupils an intensive grounding. There are 25 topic-based activities and children can write the answers straight into the book. There are with tips and advice, plus those all-important answers which come in a pull-out section. Accurate use of punctuation is an essential part of effective written communication and the questions encourage children to recognise the links between punctuation and grammar. They are also helped to understand text by noticing ways in which grammar determines meaning. the layout is clear, with each topic on a two page spread.

Writing Workbook Age 9-11 by Susan Elkin

Writing, and especially creative writing, can be a stumbling block for some pupils, but it doesn't need to be. By working progressively - and at the pupil's preferred pace - through this write-in workbook, key concepts will be explained and practised, thus giving confidence. Children will learn to: express ideas fluently in writing; use appropriate vocabulary, tone and structure for a range of writing needs; and learn to write in a variety of forms, including a book review, a news report, non-fiction and poetry. This comprehensive book also covers accuracy and appropriateness in writing, presentation of character, use of dialogue, arguing a case and almost anything needed to write in school, for exams or in everyday life. Clear and easy to use, with work split into manageable chunks, this is an excellent guide. Don't just take my word for it - the Galore Park site  has sample pages to download.

Spelling & Vocabulary Workbook Age 9-11 by Susan Elkin

Perfect for a year, this write-in workbook has 50 different topics and exercises along with tips and advice, plus pull-out answers. Designed to help with 11+ and CE preparation, it is equally useful for SATS preparation (especially for those working at Level 6) and will give plenty of challenge for Year 6 pupils. The book goes beyond topics covered in many study guides so offers a new and valuable addition. By the time they have completed the book, they will be able to use words confidently and accurately; recognise links between words with a range of examples; learn spelling rules and when to apply them. In addition, the book helps with word structure and definition, pronunciation and word sounds and source and meaning. These are all essential areas in which pupils need a thorough grounding to help them cope with the work at secondary level.

Mental Arithmetic Workbook Age 8-10 by David E Hanson

This workbook is ideal for children in Year 5 who are preparing for CE and 11+ exams, as well as offering valuable practice for all pupils. This write-in workbook provides extensive practice with 50 tests, all containing questions which have to be answered without using a calculator, measuring instruments or writing down anything but the answer. A pull-out answer section is included. The tests (each containing 20 questions) get progressively harder through the book. By working systematically through the book, children will learn to think quickly and accurately; identify weak topics and improve skills; build confidence with regular testing. The layout is extremely clear, with the questions in two columns on a single side of paper. The wide range of questions is impressive.

Mental Arithmetic Workbook Age 9-11 by David E Hanson

Mental arithmetic is an important skill and definitely one which becomes easier the more practice children have. Give them confidence in tackling a variety of question types with the comprehensive workbook, which follows on from the one above and takes the same clear format. Odd numbered tests start with 10 straightforward questions which act as reminders of the 10 basic strategies. Initially, there are useful hints about tackling questions but these decrease as the book progresses, by which time pupils should be secure in their learning - if they are not, then it would be good to review earlier tests. With their clear layout and wide-ranging questions, these are excellent books to develop children's mental arithmetic skills. Find sample pages for the Mental Arithmetic and 10 Minute Maths Tests here.

10-Minute Maths Tests Workbook Age 8-10 by David E Hanson

Another excellent pair of books from Galore Park, which offer the greatest benefits when used together progressively as one builds on the other. Each book consists of 70 topic tests (10 for each strand) together with 10 mixed topic tests designed to address all the strands of the Maths curriculum. Each test should take 10 minutes and will cover varying aspects of the topic. Working through the tests will help children practise recalling facts and procedures; identify weak topics and improve skills and build confidence with regular testing. The books are practical and easy to use, with each test clearly laid out in two columns on a single page - colour is used sparingly but appropriately. There is space to write in the answer to each question plus pull-out answers.

10-Minute Maths Tests Workbook Age 9-11 by David E Hanson

The useful introduction explains the strands and the topics covered within each, plus their place in the new National Curriculum. Useful guidance on administering the tests is given and the layout and marking explained. Topics covered in both books are Number, Calculations, Problem-solving, Pre-algebra, Shape, Space and Measures and Handling Data. Give your child the best possible opportunities for 11+, CE and other tests and exams with this excellent series.

English ISEB Revision Guide: A Revision Guide for Common Entrance 2nd ed (ISEB Revision Guides) by Susan Elkin

This new edition of the English ISEB Revision Guide is ideal to help pupils to prepare for Common Entrance and other independent school exams at 13+. Written to be fully compliant with the new ISEB syllabus, the book includes comprehension, writing skills, punctuation, grammar and spelling. Techniques are explained and then there are practice examples. It raises awareness of the requirements and explains exactly what pupils will be expected to know.  As well, there is practical guidance for pupils on how to approach the exam and Top Tips on how to achieve those all-important top grades. Revision of key skills, such as spelling, punctuation and grammar, are included, as well as Practice Tasks at the end of each chapter to ensure pupils have understood the material covered. An excellent book to start using well before the year of the exams, and one which can be followed on by the books below for exam practice.

English Practice Exercises 13+ 2nd Edition by Amanda Alexander and Rachel Gee

Updated to reflect the changes from Autumn 2013, this book is valuable both for use in school and for parents wanting to give their child a boost at home. The book includes a useful analysis of the papers, so the student knows what to expect and is divided into sections relating to the exam format; there are questions at Level 1 and Level 2. Texts are wide-ranging and include thought-provoking non-fiction and poetry for comprehension practice - always a popular topic and an area which will be useful throughout KS3 in all schools. The reading section features 10 prose and 10 poetry selections. Get maximum value by using this with the English Practice Exercises 13+ Answer Book 2nd Edition: Practice Exercises for Common Entrance Preparation (ISEB Practice Exercises at 13+) - not only the answers (in detail) but also a useful marking guide which shows exactly what the ISEB examiners are looking for. As Galore Park books, you can be quite sure these are written to cover the requirements of Common Entrance and will help students to achieve their best.

11+ English Revision Guide by Susan Hamyln

Geared towards pupils working for grammar school entrance and independent school entrance exams, including CE, this book is designed to help your child excel. It's excellent too for those who want to be stretched beyond the normal Year 6 expectations. Children are encouraged to 'Aim High' through the special sections throughout. 'To Do' sections encourage children to think about and to apply their English skills in a wide range of areas. It is both revision guide and practice papers combined, and the answers are included, enabling parents to give their child the best possible help. It's an excellent guide, both for classroom and home use and I highly recommend it for its practicality and the way it extends children's abilities to ensure they give their best.
Galore Park is the leading publisher of educational textbooks for pupils studying at independent schools and is the sole distributor of ISEB Common Entrance papers for 11+ and 13+. All their publications can be purchased through their website

11+ Maths Revision Guide by David E Hanson

An easy to understand guide covering all the key topics needed for Common Entrance, grammar school entrance and other independent school exams at 11+. It includes the same features as the English revision guide and is again an excellent way to encourage students to reach their maximum potential. The bullet point lists and clear diagrams present information in a clear and understandable way, so even parents who are not brilliant at maths can be given to confidence to help their children. Sample questions throughout the revision guide enable pupils to check their progress and identify areas for improvement. There is a fantastic amount of information packed into this book and able children will enjoy tackling the challenges it presents. Excellent for extension work in the classroom too.
Galore Park is the leading publisher of educational textbooks for pupils studying at independent schools and is the sole distributor of ISEB Common Entrance papers for 11+ and 13+. All their publications can be purchased through their website

So You Really Want to Learn Junior Science Book 3 by Sue Hunter

Written for Year 5 pupils, this is an excellent resource for all KS2 science studies. It does lead into Galore Park's series for older pupils but is also an excellent resource on its own. Key topics are covered, in a clear and informative manner, and these are followed by test exercises or practical activities - how about making your own fire extinguisher? Junior Science Book 3 Answers accompanies the book. "Galore Park is the leading publisher of educational textbooks for pupils studying at independent schools and is the sole distributor of ISEB Common Entrance papers for 11+ and 13+. Our range of textbooks, revision guides and ISEB Common Entrance papers offer the most comprehensive choice for pupils who are not restricted by the National Curriculum and especially those who are being prepared for Common Entrance, scholarship or entrance exams at 11+ or 13+. Our resources are rigorous and challenging and encourage students to achieve their very best." 

So You Really Want to Learn Junior English Book 3 by Andrew Hammond

Written for Year 5 pupils, this provides the fundamentals of grammar, spelling and punctuation. Lively reading passages drawn from a wide selection of texts and suggestions for further reading combine with challenging exercises and 'Other things to do'. Clear explanations of topics are followed by exercises to reinforce learning. The range of comprehension exercises is good - we are so often asked for comprehension texts. Plenty of variety in the book means English won't be perceived as 'boring'! Attractively presented, with lots of colour illustrations and photographs. Parents confident in their grasp of English may be able to help children with their answers, otherwise you will need Junior English Book 3 Answer Book

So You Really Want to Learn Geography Book 2 by James Dale-Adcock

An excellent book, written for Year 8,  for preparation for the geography element of Common Entrance, written by someone who obviously has vast experience in his field - the exam tips and chapter on exam technique are particularly useful. There are chapters on map reading, landforms, weather and climate, settlement and location. The book includes more challenging scholarship level questions too. So you really want to learn Geography Book 2 Answers provides the answers to the questions in this book and So You Really Want to Learn Geography Book 1: A Textbook for Key Stage 3 and Common Entrance covers Year 7 material.

Maths Practice Exercises 13+ by David E Hanson

This is perfect preparation for pupils working towards Common Entrance and entrance exams at 13+. It is also useful for general KS3 revision. Material is arranged by topic and  written in the style of an ISEB exam paper ensuring pupils are familiar with the exam format - this is key to confidence when taking the exams. This book can be used to consolidate the knowledge required for the exam, and ensure pupils secure those top grades. Answers are provided in  Maths Practice Exercises 13+: Answer Book (Common Entrance Practice Exercises at 11+/13+) 

Mathematics ISEB Revision Guide by Stephen Froggatt and David Hanson

This is the revised edition for the syllabus introduced for exams in 2010, so you know it covers what the student needs. It covers all maths topics needed at 11+ and 13+. Six major topics are covered, each split into 11+ and 13+. Plenty of examples are clearly laid out for the reader to work through, all reinforced by exercises and exam questions (and answers!). Clearly laid out with copious use of diagrams, the explanations are clear and understandable, reassuring the student and building of previous knowledge. A thick book and excellent value! 

History Practice Exercises 13+ by Gavin Hannah and Paul Spencer

This useful book provides excellent practice in answering evidence questions and essay questions for the period 1066 - 1900. The evidence questions are supported by a wide range of sources including texts and one illustration for each topic - excellent for getting the student to make deductions from the evidence. To get the full benefit, you really need History Practice Exercises: Answer Book (Practice Exercises at 11+/13+) to go along with this book. It is an excellent way to familiarise the student with the requirements of the ISEB exams, as it covers all the topics and is written in the style of the exams. There is also practical advice at the beginning - especially on widening out and not just answering the questions on the period being studied.

 Science ISEB Revision Guide 2nd edition by Richard Balding

This covers the ISEB syllabus for science at 11+ and 13+. It is also an excellent general revision textbook for use at KS3. Physics, chemistry and biology are covered, each with a chapter for 11+ and 13+. Chapters are further divided into very manageable chunks - perfect for one revision session. Each section includes sample questions (and answers) to ensure the subject is learnt.thoroughly. As a revision guide, there is an overview of each topic, making it easily digestible for revision purposes - Galore Park produce an excellent range of of books - So You Really Want to Know, with more detail. Plenty of diagrams reinforce learning.

Study skills by Elizabeth Holtom

This book is a brilliant concept. We are so often asked how parents can help their children learn to study and the answers can be found in this book. The author starts by explaining how the brain works and how we can help our brain. Did you know that the brain is greedy? We all learn in different ways and the books shows us how to make the best of the way our brain works - just as useful for the adults! This is a very personal book - there are exercises to complete all the way through and going back to check up on resolutions made will be a great motivator. The book discusses all sorts of ways of learning and is highly recommended for early KS3 use.

 English Year 9 by Susan Elkin

This is the first in a new series from Galore Park. It aims to introduce students to the wonderful range of English language available. Each section contains a series of excerpts of different genres of writing, linked by a common theme. This use of different forms of writing will draw in the student and ensure that there is something to appeal to everyone. Fiction and non-fiction are included, under sections such as Eureka; the World at Work and Behind Bars. As well as questions based on the passages, there are a wide range of questions aimed at improving student's literacy skills and helping them to become fluent writers. This is a great way of drawing students in through short, interesting texts which will whet their appetites to read the full versions.

Galore Park is the leading publisher of educational textbooks for pupils studying at independent schools and is the sole distributor of past ISEB Common Entrance exam papers. Their site says: "Our range of textbooks, revision guides and past ISEB exam papers offer the most comprehensive choice for pupils who are not restricted by the National Curriculum and especially those who are being prepared for Common Entrance, scholarship or entrance exams at 11+ or 13+. Our resources are rigorous and challenging and encourage students to achieve their very best." There are detailed reviews of some more  of their books on our Study Guides page.