The majority of top private schools will require your child to pass entrance tests as well as be interviewed in order to consider them for admission. It may be a standard test or one set individually by the school. In both cases each school sets its own pass mark - the more selective (academically) the higher the required score. Most tests are taken 6 to 9 months before entry. It is prudent to prepare your child for them. There are private preparatory schools in the UK which specialise in preparing children to pass the entry exams of chosen senior schools, but even then your child may benefit from additional tuition.
As mentioned above, entrance tests vary by school. They also vary by age group. At ages 11 and 13, they are generally called the Common Entrance Test. The Common Entrance examinations are used for assessing boys and girls who transfer to senior schools at the ages of 11+ and 13+.
The papers are set by examiners appointed by the Board, but the answers are marked by the senior school for which a candidate is entered. Candidates may normally be entered only if:
. they have been offered a place at a senior school subject to their passing the examination, or
. they are entered for a trial run, in which case the papers are marked by the junior school concerned
SENIOR SCHOOL ENTRANCE EXAMS AT 11
There are many ways to gain entry to an Independent school at age 11. Some schools have their own examinations which are set by the staff. There may be examples of these 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 (The Independent Schools Examinations Board).
SENIOR SCHOOL ENTRANCE EXAMS 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 by the same syllabi. Maths, English, History, Geography, Science, French/Spanish, R.E. and perhaps Music might be examined. Here is a link which gives you access to past papers: Independent Schools Examination Board
SENIOR SCHOOL ENTRANCE EXAMS AT 16
At age 16 there are different entry requirements. For example, most schools will require a minimum of 6 grade B's in GCSEs - many now ask for A's in the subjects to be taken at A level. On top of this some schools will additionally require tests in the subjects to be taken in the sixth form and this includes the IB Diploma Programme.