The fact that good schools nationwide are chronically oversubscribed is well known. Nowhere, is this more apparent than in London, where there are as many as twenty students per place. To put this into perspective, there are around eight students for every place at Oxbridge and Cambridge University. London’s answer to this problem is, is to supplement catchment areas with entrance exams, to avoid a postcode lottery.
One such exam is the Wandsworth test. Students in the last year of primary school, who live in the London
borough of Wandsworth, take it in December every year. It is designed to help the best schools in the
area differentiate between the mountains of applications they receive. However, the shortage of places
is still so chronic, that in most years, a child needs to score 95% on the Wandsworth test to have any
chance of a place at their first choice school.
The Wandsworth test is made up of two sections, verbal, and non-verbal reasoning. Each is marked out of
141. These questions are similar to those found on MENSA and IQ tests. This is because, supposedly,
applicants cannot be coached to pass them. However, studies have shown, regular practise in the year
leading up to the exam, and the help of a tutor will
boost a child’s chances of success.
The Wandsworth test is designed by GL assessments. They are a firm with years of success in producing
such tests. Their aim is to provide an accurate test of student’s potential. For this reason, the tests
are teacher led, at a demanding pace, with no opportunity to return to questions or check your answers.
This makes it almost unique when compared to other methods of school age testing.
Successful students are those who can work fast and accurately, as well as approach problems
analytically. These are skills require both confidence, and something more than good academic knowledge.
This can be a mixed blessing. It means your child does not need to be academically gifted to do well,
but at the same time confidence in pupils of 11 or 12 years old is notoriously fragile.
GL offer two books on the subject of the Wandsworth test, which are useful. Beyond that, try to take the pressure off your child as much as possible by starting preparation in good time. Overwork and pressure are two of the most common causes of poor performance. Also, encourage your child to read widely and appropriately as a good vocabulary has proved to be an advantage.
Finally, if you are going for one of the schools, which requires a score of 95% or more, then an
experienced tutor might be able to make the difference between a good score and a great one.
The score needed for a child to secure a place varies year-on-year, based on the scores achieved by students and the number of places available. In addition to this, some special consideration is given. For example, those born in August (and therefore with almost a year’s less time to develop) are given some extra credit, as are those from disadvantaged backgrounds.