Guide to UK Boarding School Entrance Exams

Learn all about entrance exams for UK boarding schools

guide to uk boarding school entrance exams

Almost all UK boarding schools will require entrance exams for children aged 11 and up. Our guide to UK boarding school entrance exams covers some common entrance exams that your child may have to take.

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UKiset stands for the UK Independent Schools’ Entry Test. This is a computerised test that is designed for international students (outside of the UK & EU) aged 9-18 years-old applying to enrol at a UK independent school. UKiset is used as part of the admissions process for a number of schools to identify a student’s English proficiency and academic aptitude. Depending on the school, your child may also have to take the school’s entry papers after sitting for UKiset. We go into more detail about the UKiset in our article here.

UKiset can only be taken in certified test centres. Britannia StudyLink Malaysia is an official UKiset certified test centre. We are based in Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur. Make an appointment with us today – our services are free!

ISEB Common Entrance Exams (CEE)

Most boarding schools will require applicants to take an entrance test, usually a test set by the school or the UKiset. The Common Entrance test is rarely used for international students and it is mostly designed for students who are already attending a UK prep school preparing to move up to a senior school. In this case, they would probably be taking the CEE 13+.

The Common Entrance exam is required for entry by some independent boarding schools. In the event that your child has to take the CEE, there are two Common Entrance exams by ISEB: one for children aged 11+ and one for children aged 13+. The syllabus for the exam is devised by the Independent Schools Examinations Board (ISEB). ISEB papers are available for a number of subjects such as English, Maths, Science, Geography, Mandarin Chinese, and so on. ISEB is used as a pre-test for a number of schools including Harrow, Eton, and Westminster.

Common Entrance ISEB 11+ and 13+

The Common Entrance 11+ test is taken by children in Year 6 whereas the Common Entrance 13+ is taken by children in Year 8. Some subjects are available in up to three levels of difficulty – the level of test that your child may have to take depends on the school that you are applying to. 

School-Specific Entrance Exams

UK boarding schools are highly popular, which also means that it can be highly competitive to get into one of the top schools as an overseas applicant. Many popular boarding schools have their own exams while some will use the Common Entrance Exam. These exams are mainly used to gauge a candidate’s academic potential.

Regardless of the test administered, most overseas applicants will have to sit for an English and Maths test, along with other subjects which vary from school to school. Students in Year 12 will probably be asked to take all of the A Level or IB subjects that they plan to take.

How to Apply to Study at a UK Boarding School?

Step 1: Understand the UK Boarding School System

The first step is to read about how the UK boarding school system works and to learn when is the best age to send your child to a boarding school and the best time to apply. There are certain study pathways or entry years that are optimal ages for your child to enrol at a boarding school – it ensures that they have ample time to adjust to the new environment and to catch up with the new syllabus. We also strongly advise parents to read about visas and guardianship at this stage of the process.

Step 2: Choose a School and Make Preparations

Take your time choosing the most suitable boarding school for your child. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a UK boarding school:

  • Location
  • Quality of education
  • GCSE/A Level results
  • Pastoral care
  • Accomodation and facilities
  • Extracurricular activities

Once you have narrowed down the search to a handful of schools, the next step is to prepare your child for the entrance exams and interviews. Depending on the school that you have chosen, your child may have to sit for the computerised UKiset test as a pre-test. After that, the school may administer the Common Entrance Examination or their own tests.

You also have to prepare the necessary paperwork. This includes obtaining school leaving certificates, exam results, application forms, among other documents that may be required.

Step 3: Submit Applications and Enrol

Depending on the child’s performance in the entrance exams, we may advise parents to apply to other schools to secure a position. After submitting the applications and confirming the parents’ decision, the final step is to prepare the student for life in the UK. We find that it is very beneficial at this stage for the student to be well-prepared for the next few years of their life in a UK boarding school.

We provide these services free of charge! Britannia StudyLink has helped over 1000 students find the right boarding school and they have all benefited from our services which span the full application process, from educating parents about the UK boarding system to recommending schools and arranging logistics for sending the student to the UK!

Read our article Application Process For UK Boarding Schools for more details about our role in helping you with the application process. Book a free consultation now!

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. Most UK boarding schools require candidates to take UKiset as a pre-test.

Yes. Most schools require international students from outside of the UK and EU to take UKiset. Depending on the school, there may also be additional entrance exams.

UKiset stands for the UK Independent Schools’ Entry Test and it is a computerised test that is designed for international students applying to a UK independent school.

Applications are submitted directly to the schools of choice. Be sure to have all the required documents prepared when you submit your application.

Get Free UK Boarding School Application Assistance

If you would like a free consultation on any step of the application process, contact us today or come visit us at our office in Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur. Book an appointment with us now!

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