ISEB Pre-Tests for private school entry

FREE ISEB pre-tests practice and ISEB pre-tests samples


Our top passing ISEB pre-tests tips, incl ISEB’s own practice pre-tests

  1. Your first step is always to check which private school entry test your chosen schools use. In this case that  the ISEB Common Pre-test as part of the private school’s entry requirements. This is increasingly the case.
  2. This is also an ISEB familiarisation test available on the same ISEB common pre-tests introductory website. This demonstrates the look and feel of the tests.
  3. ISEB pre-tests practice test is worth reviewing as your next step. This will familiarise your child with the ISEB sub-test formats.

How is the ISEB pre-test administered?

  • Examples and practice questions, where relevant, are provided during the tests so that candidates understand what they have to do.
  • While taking the tests, candidates are able to track their progress within the test (number of questions answered in relation to overall number of questions). Textbooks, calculators, mobile devices, or other materials which might assist a candidate will not be accessible during the Common Pre-Tests.
  • The use of pen/pencil and paper is not permitted in the non-verbal reasoning or English tests. However, candidates should have access to pen/pencil and paper for their rough work during the verbal reasoning and mathematics tests.
  • It is the responsibility of the invigilation centre to provide pen/pencil and paper.

Common Entrance ISEB Exam practice

ISEB is welcoming many candidates to the Common Pre-Tests this year as more senior schools turn to this assessment as one part of their selection process, alongside the Head’s reference, other test scores and any interviews or activities held on site.

The information provided below will give you an overview of the Common Pre-Tests. You may find the FAQ at the bottom of this page helpful: ISEB Verbal reasoning question styles include:

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

Non-verbal reasoning question styles include:

  • Shape analogies
  • Classes like and
  • Horizontal codes.

ISEB English question styles include:

  • Reading comprehension
  • Sentence completion
  • Spelling and punctuation.


Using ISEB pre-tests with SEND candidates

The Common Pre-Tests are accessible to candidates with a range of special educational needs or disabilities. In individual cases, schools may decide that not all test elements are a suitable form of assessment for a particular candidate.

Which pretests candidates get more time ?

  • Candidates requiring extra time should take the untimed/manually timed version of each test.
  • This version does not have an on-screen countdown timer. The invigilator is responsible for timing the test and ending the test at the appropriate time.
  • For visually-impaired candidates, a degree of on-screen text enlargement is available via standard web browser zoom.
  • It is also possible to purchase text-enlargers which clip onto the screens.
  • All senior schools which register candidates for the tests should be informed of any adjustments made for SEND candidates.
  • Senior schools should indicate SEND candidates during registration, and take into account the potential impact of SEND as part of their overall assessment of a candidate’s application.

ISEB pre-test usage with EAL candidates

  • The Common Pre-Tests are accessible to candidates for whom English is an Additional Language.
  • For EAL candidates, this may include the use of a standard bilingual paper dictionary.
  • In individual cases, schools may decide that not all test elements are a suitable form of assessment for a candidate whose first language is not English.
  • Senior schools should indicate EAL candidates during registration, and take into account the potential impact of any specific needs in their overall assessment of a candidate’s application.

Are ISEB pretests available overseas?

  • Yes, it is possible for candidates to take the Common Pre-Tests overseas.
  • For overseas candidates, parents should ask the child’s current school if they can invigilate the Common Pre-Tests.
  • If this is not possible, parents should contact the British Council in their country to see if they have suitable facilities nearby.
  • Otherwise, parents will need to find an alternative venue which provides invigilation/exam services.
  • The senior school(s) will need to communicate directly with the venue in order to provide candidate login details and supporting documentation.

So, how does the pre-tests adaptive test select questions?

  • In other words the ISEB pre-tests algorithm constantly adjusts the difficulty of the series of questions presented.
  • Whilst there is a chance that two candidates will be given the same question. It is certainly true that the order of questions differs for each candidate.
  • As does the majority of the questions. This is because each ISEB pre-test’s questins are extracted from a huge ISEB item bank of pretest questions. These are tagged by difficulty.
  • The difficulty level (and corresponding pass/rate rate) is known for each of the pre-test questions in this ISEB item bank.
  • Hence the possibility of producing a different ISEB pretest for each candidate. Plus, more accurate assessing of pupil skills. This is done by adjusting the questions presented based upon each ISEB pupil’s current skill level.
  • That said, the ISEB pretests adaptive model does allow candidates to recover from any early wrong answers to attain a score that matches their ability.
  • While taking the tests, candidates can see their progress within the test (number of questions answered in relation to overall number of questions).

Points to remember for such adaptive tests

  • Candidates cannot go back to previous questions since the ISEB pretests are an adaptive test.
  • Well, firstly it’s key to always remember that each candidate will start with a medium-level question.
  • If the question is answered correctly then a more difficult question is given next.
  • Whereas if its answered incorrectly; an easier pretests question is given next.

Should ISEB candidates try to work quickly so that they can answer more questions?

  • Each test has a fixed number of questions.
  • Candidates should try to work carefully through the test, thinking about each question that they meet.
  • For the mathematics and the verbal reasoning modules all candidates should have access to a pen/pencil and a supply of paper. To that they can work out their answers on paper, if they wish, before choosing the correct answer option.

Can parents request their child’s Common Pre-Test results from ISEB?

ISEB does not provide results directly to parents. This is because parents do not register their child with ISEB, but with the senior school(s) for which they are applying.

Can a candidate take the Common Pre-Tests more than once?

A candidate only takes the Common Pre-Tests once in an academic year.

More recommended private school entry test prep

Firstly, 16+ test practice and 16 plus test prep.

Secondly, 13+ test practice and 13 plus past papers.


We hope you found ALL our ISEB pre-tests private school entry test practice useful!