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UK Boarding Schools Admissions

Your go-to guide for UK Boarding Schools Admissions

Overview: (1) entrance exams, (2) interviews

(1) Entrance exams

  • Entrance exams are typically required for admission into Year 7-10 and Year 12 (Sixth Form) in UK schools.

  • For Year 7-10, exams usually test applicants in English and Maths, and may include additional subjects such as verbal and non-verbal reasoning, sciences, humanities, modern languages, and Latin.

  • For Year 12, exams test applicants in English and some or all of their chosen A-Level or IB subjects.​

    • These exams are similar in style to A-Level and IB questions and require a higher level of subject knowledge, reading comprehension, and writing ability.

  • Common standardised entrance exams for UK boarding school admissions include:

    • Common Entrance Examination (CE)

    • Independent Schools Examination Board (ISEB) Common Pre-Tests

    • UKiset (for international students)

(2) Interviews

Our tutors are highly experienced in helping students navigate through the myths and tricks so that they can outperform their peers in a boarding school interview.


During a UK boarding school interview, the duration can range from 15-40 minutes, depending on the school. Before the interview, the interviewer usually has access to the candidate's test scores, reference letters, as well as the latest school exam results. School interview questions typically fall into one of the following categories:

  • General/personal interview questions that may explore the applicant's background, interests, and goals.

  • Logic, puzzles, or mental arithmetic questions that test the applicant's problem-solving skills and ability to think on their feet.

  • Poetry analysis questions that may test the applicant's critical thinking and analytical skills.

  • Current affairs questions that explore the applicant's awareness of current events and ability to engage in discussions about contemporary issues.

It's important to remember that a good school interview should feel like a conversation . Candidates should aim to enjoy the conversation and play their part in it, but avoid being overconfident. The interviewer is looking for a candidate who is both responsive and thoughtful, a good talker and a good listener, and who they would enjoy having in their class.

Common Entrance Exams (11+ and 13+ )

The Common Entrance exam is a standardized test taken by students in the UK. The 11+ version is typically taken by Year 6 students, while the 13+ version is taken by Year 8 students.


The difficulty level of the test varies depending on the school, with some subjects available in up to three levels of difficulty.


The level of the test that a student may have to take depends on the school they are applying to.

Learning Together
Mother and Daughter


The ISEB test is typically taken by pupils aged between 10 and 12 years old in Year 6 or 7. It provides a universal and standardized measure of attainment, ability, and potential. The test consists of four components: English, maths, verbal reasoning, and non-verbal reasoning, and all four components take approximately 2.25 hours to complete.


Students may still be required to take the Common Entrance Exam to apply to UK boarding schools


 The test is online and adaptive, with questions in a multiple-choice format with one right answer for each question.


Results are available to all senior schools for which the candidate is registered, so the candidate only has to sit one test.


UKiset is a standardized test designed for international students who are applying to independent schools in the UK. The test assesses the student's academic ability and potential, as well as their English language proficiency. The test is usually taken by students between the ages of 9 and 18 years old.

The test consists of four components: English, math, verbal reasoning, and non-verbal reasoning. It is online and adaptive, meaning that the difficulty of the questions adjusts according to the student's answers.

The results of the UKiset test are made available to the independent schools to which the student has applied, allowing schools to make more informed admissions decisions.

Writing a test
Judges Examining Document

Subject tests

For some senior levels of entry, certain UK boarding schools require subject-specific entrance tests that are similar in format to real A-Level or IB exams. This helps the schools to gauge whether the student will perform well in the imminent public examinations.


At Links Education, our experienced tutors can provide tailored support to ensure that applicants are well-prepared for these tests and for the actual exams that will follow. 

Links Education understands that applying to UK boarding schools can be an overwhelming experience. We believe in taking a holistic approach to the admissions process, and help you and your child focus on actual tests, interviews, character development, and building a well-rounded profile. Our experienced tutors, who have attended top UK schools such as Eton College, Cheltenham Ladies' College, and Harrow School, can provide expert guidance and support to help students navigate the admissions process with confidence and achieve their academic goals.

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