Recent ISEB Pre-Test changes explained by Cambridge Academic Tuition

Welcome to our latest guest post, ‘Changes to the ISEB Pre-Test for 2023′.

This was written by Juliet Rolls, Founder of Cambridge Academic Tuition .

All these new ISEB features feature in our new ISEB Pretests practice tests 1 to 10.  you can buy individual tests or a cheaper test bundle:


* * These practice tests are the closest to the original * *

Changes to the ISEB Pre-Test for 2023

Juliet is a parent to four school aged children, tutor, qualified teacher and Founder of Cambridge Academic Tuition. In addition to preparing students for the ISEB pre-test, she manages teachers/tutors for all academic subjects to students from ages 3 to 18. All lessons are one to one and online and all teachers are UK qualified teachers.

We teach students from all around the world, many of whom have English as an additional language. Our recent successes include places at:

  • At some of the most selective schools in the UK and globally, including:
  • Eton, Harrow, Westminster, St Paul’s Boys’ School, St Paul’s Girls’ School, Wycombe Abbey, Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Winchester, Hampton, Tonbridge, Dulwich College and King’s College to name a few.

We prepare students for:

  • Entry at 4+, 7+, 8+, 10+, 11+, 13+ and 16+.
  • GCSE/IGCSE and A-Level/IB exams.

Our students have often achieved the highest grade possible and we also have a fantastic record of students being offered academic scholarships.

2022 ISEB Pre-Tests Webinar

I recently attended a webinar presented by Julia Martin, CEO of the Independent Schools Examination Board or ISEB, outlining the changes to the ISEB this year. She described the new tests as “transformative.” The ISEB is Britain’s oldest exam board.

The ISEB previously commissioned the test from GL assessment. This year, for the first time, Century Tech has been chosen as the new test provider. Century Tech was founded in 2013 by Priya Lakhani OBE. Century Tech also runs a platform used by schools and parents with AI driven revision for English, maths and science.

There is a Walkthrough ISEB 2022 pre-tests practice test on the ISEB website which we recommend to all students taking the test.


Preparation Resources for the 2022 ISEB Pre-Tests

Although the ISEB do not endorse any specific resources for preparation, I recommend Atom Learning to my students. Atom Learning has created mock tests which replicate the format and question style of the ISEB pre-test.

Using the code CAMBRIDGE you can benefit from up to 30% off your first payment which can be for an entire year. Most of my students sign up for the Exam Prep Plus package which allows unlimited mock tests.To find out more visit Cambridge Academic Tuition.

Timings for the ISEB pre-tests 2022 

The new timings of the tests from October 2022 are:

Mathematics 40 minutes

English 40 minutes

Non-Verbal Reasoning (NVR) 30 minutes

Verbal Reasoning (VR) 25 minutes

Total length 2 hours and 15 minutes


ISEB 2022 Pre-tests’ question types

The types of questions that could now appear now include:

Mathematics content for the ISEB pre-tests 2022

  1. Number and place value
  2. Calculations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division)
  3. Fractions, decimals and percentages
  4. Measure
  5. Geometry
  6. Statistics

There are likely to be some problem solving questions in addition to arithmetic and problems involving more than one area.

English content for the ISEB pre-tests 2023

  1. Reading comprehension – instead of one long passage which was previously the case, there are now 2 or 3 shorter passages. You do not need to click from page to page any more but can scroll through the text.
  2. Grammar – this includes:
  • Cloze sentences – you need to select the right word to complete the sentence.
  • Shuffled sentences – you need to rearrange words to form a sentence and may be asked to select the extra word that is not needed. This question type was previously in VR.
  • Spelling, punctuation, grammar and vocabulary.

Non-Verbal Reasoning content for the ISEB pre-tests 2023

  1. Non-Verbal Reasoning
  • Similarities and differences
  • Codes
  • Complete the diagram
  1. Spatial Reasoning
  • 3D visualisation
  • 2D manipulation

Verbal Reasoning content for the ISEB pre-tests 2023

  1. Comprehension
  2. Reasoning
  3. Logic

For VR vocabulary and spelling are very important. Number related questions have now been removed from the VR test.

Other new ISEB 2023 pre-tests’ features

Parents must now register for the test rather than the senior school doing this so each child is only registered once even if you apply to multiple schools. Registration for the ISEB pre-test is free.

Improvements to accessibility for special needs such as changing the screen background colour and text size are now possible.

Scrap paper and a pencil can be used for all tests. This was previously only allowed for maths and VR. The working out and notes will not be marked. It is wise to make use of this feature as accuracy rather than speed will produce a higher standardised age score even if all of the questions are not completed.

The tests are adaptive and some pupils may not need the full length of the test. There is no set number of questions but it is likely there will be approximately 30 questions for mathematics, 50 questions for English, 36 questions for NVR and 30 questions for VR. This can vary according to the algorithm and the number of questions answered correctly. The results are given as a standardised age score where 100 is average and the maximum score is 142. Most selective schools will be looking for students with scores above 120 in all areas to secure a place.


Remaining key 2023 ISEB features

Many of the 2022 ISEB pre-test feature will remain. In particular:

  • Taken in Year 6/7; between October and June.
  • Only taken once in each academic year. Either on two separate days or all on the same day.
  • The ISEB 2022 remains an online, adaptive test.
  • Once you have submitted your answer you cannot go back and change it or check through your answers at the end. Therefore, you will not find out if the answer you selected is right or wrong.
  • There is a timer and dots at the bottom of the screen so that you can see your progress in the test.
  • All questions are multiple choice and adaptive.
  • The 2022 ISEB pre-test material covers up to the end of the Year 5 curriculum. Although, the higher level questions’ content goes beyond this.
  • Overseas students, with English as a Foreign Language, can take their ISEB 2022 test with a bilingual dictionary


Schools which use the ISEB Pre-Test 2023

Here is a useful list of schools using ISEB pre-tests 2022.


How Cambridge Academic Tuition can help

We are experts at preparing students for the ISEB Pre-Test, other school admission tests and school selection.

Select the right school for your child matched to their academic ability. We can additionally provide this service of school selection which many parents have found helpful. It was great to hear from a parent this week that a student who I taught recently, who has now joined St Paul’s Boys’, wrote to me to say that her son, “…is loving it. It is exactly the right place for him.”

Cambridge Academic Tuition

Other key changes to the ISEB Common Pretest (CPT)?

  • The new test is powered by a company called Century Tech, whose software is being used to register candidates, deliver the test and provide results. Hence, the layout of the test screen has changed significantly. You can see how these features work on the official ISEB Pretest Walkthrough here.
  • If your child qualifies for 25% extra time, the timings will be as follows:

English – 50 minutes

Mathematics – 50 minutes

Verbal Reasoning – 31.25 minutes

Non-Verbal Reasoning – 37.5 minutes

Our new practice tests match these new timings exactly. There is also an option to take each section of the test with extra time. However, we only recommend choosing this option if you are sure your child will qualify for this.


The process to register your child has changed. Previously, they would be registered via their school. Each child must now be registered via a parent or guardian. You can do this via the Guardian Portal here. ISEB have supplied lots of handy information and guidance on how to register so the process is relatively straightforward.


  • The new test will contain no Sample or Practice questions. In the older version of the test, some of the modules included these within the timed portion of the assessment. In the new test, there will be general instructions provided and then the test will begin right away, with every question counting towards your child’s score.



  • The structure of the English module has changed. Previously, 50% of the marks were allocated for Reading Comprehension, 25% for Sentence Completion and 25% for Spelling & Punctuation.
  • Now, about half of the marks are allocated for Reading Comprehension and half of the marks are allocated to Grammar.
  • The new ISEB Grammar section covers three topics in rotation: Cloze Sentences, Shuffled Sentences and SPAG, each with a roughly equal weighting.
  • The first section of the test covers Reading Comprehension. In the old version of the ISEB Pretest, there was just one longer passage, either fiction or nonfiction.In the new test format, there will be multiple smaller passages of 300-500 words each. The passages could be fiction, non-fiction or poetry. In the old format, the passage was divided into smaller sections on the left hand side of the page. Students needed to click numbered buttons to navigate between the questions. In the new format, the passage is in the centre of the page and students may need to scroll up and down to view the text and the questions underneath.



  •  The second part of the test is called Grammar. It consists of three types of questions: Cloze Sentences, Shuffled Sentences and SPAG. Cloze Sentences is similar to the Sentence Completion question type in the old version of the ISEB Pretest.
  • The second type of question is Shuffled Sentences. This is a brand new question type. Below is an example WITH the instruction wording that will be used

  • The third type of question is SPAG, which is an abbreviation of Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar.





  • Maths is changING the least compared to the older format of the test. You can expect the same topics to be covered with perhaps fewer questions that include tables/diagrams.



  • In the older ISEB, certain questions required two answers to be selected. For example, questions that required selecting two synonyms. In the new version of the test, each question has one answer only. You can still expect synonym based questions but the wording and presentation will be as the below example:

  •  A number of new question types could feature in the new ISEB Pretest. These include Move Two Letters, Missing Letters, Odd One OUt, Connected Words and Related Words.


The biggest change is the introduction of Spatial Reasoning question types. These did not previously feature in the ISEB Pretest. We’ve covered all the key Spatial Reasoning question types across our new ISEB range. For example, here is a Spatial Reasoning question from NEW ISEB Pretest Practice Test 12. This question type is called Combining Shapes.



  • Despite the introduction of Spatial Reasoning, 2D Non-Verbal Reasoning questions will still account for about half the marks in the Non-Verbal Reasoning section. We’ve made sure to cover all the possibilities across our practice tests. For example, here is a Figure Matrices question from NEW ISEB Pretest Practice Test 14 ?


  • THE old test format included fewer variants in the actual exam but a greater number of questions for each of these variants. In the new test, you can expect more variants to feature but a smaller number of questions per variant

School Entrance Tests hopes you found

ALL our independent school entry test practice useful:

INDEPENDENT school entry test practice. ISEB past papers;

Private school test practice;

GL 11+ test practice;

CEM 11+ test practice; and

ISEB pre-tests practice.