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ISEB Pretest

What is the ISEB Pre-Test?

The ISEB Common Pre-Test is an age-standardized measure of ability and attainment, taken by Year 6 or Year 7 pupils. Pre-Tests are commissioned from GL Assessment and are online and adaptive. They are multiple-choice and take 2.5 hours to complete.

Pre-Tests include seperate exams covering the following subjects:

  • Verbal Reasoning (25 minutes)
  • Mathematics (40 minutes)
  • Non-Verbal Reasoning (30 minutes)
  • English (40 minutes)

Candidates usually sit the Independent Schools Examinations Board (ISEB) Common Pre-Test on a computer at their current school. The tests can be taken together or at separate times. If the candidate's current school does not administer the exam, it is often possible to sit the test at the candidate's prospective school. 

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How it works

Prep schools have their own arrangements for the administration of the ISEB Pre-Test, with candidates 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 your son or daughter is offered a senior school 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 ISEB Common Pre-Tests and will register the candidates. From Autumn 2022 parents/guardans will be required to register their children with ISEB for the Common Pre-Tests. This is the current list of senior schools using the ISEB Common Pretest.

Children applying to multiple schools using the Common Pre-Test will only take one test 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.


What does each subject test?

Verbal Demo  Verbal Reasoning   

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

NonVerbal Demo  Non-Verbal Reasoning   

  • Shape analogies
  • Classes like
  • Horizontal codes

English Demo  English   

  • Reading comprehension
  • Sentence completion
  • Spelling
  • Punctuation

Maths Demo  Mathematics   

  • Candidates are tested on National Curriculum topics taught up to the end of Year 5.
  • The range of topics are checked by a member of the ISEB 11+ setting team.

How can BOFA help?

BOFA Pre-Test helps prepare candidates for the ISEB Common Pre-Test by delivering mock Pre-Test exams that help to develop candidate familiarity with the exam, as well as highlighting weak areas that need attention. 

Our mock Pre-Tests are available to buy in packs of 3, to ensure thorough preparation. We encourage these to be taken at different times of the year to assess progress. BOFA Pre-Tests are used in prep schools across the UK to help pupils prepare, as well as by parents and tutors. For extra practice, BOFA Pre-Test can be used alongside BOFA 8+ - 12+, which offers adaptive testing across all the Pre-Test subjects: VR, NVR, Maths and English.

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Extra information about the ISEB Pre-Test

  1. The Pre-Test is notorious for its challenging format. It's a good idea to prepare candidates for the test format, as well as its content, by using mock exams. (Try a BOFA mock test for free here.)
  2. Examples and practice questions, where relevant, are provided during the tests so that candidates understand what they have to do.
  3. Each question must be answered and candidates cannot go back to previous questions.
  4. While taking the tests, candidates are able to see the number of questions they have answered in relation to the overall number of questions.
  5. Candidates should aim to answer every question, reaching the end of the test within the time allocated.
  6. 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.