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Chapter 2 : Applying for Pre-Prep and Prep Schools

CONTENTS

Competition for the best school places starts from a young age, and it is wise to be aware of the application process very early on.

Many schools have registration deadlines in advance of applications, and in the London area, some pre-prep schools even recommend that parents should register before their child’s first birth-day.

This is not to say that you should rush into various registrations without having made decisions about schools. But the decision-making process should start early, and one must be aware that many good pre-prep and prep schools require registering well in advance.

Pre-Prep Entrance Assessments

Once you have registered and applied, pre-prep admissions - up to the age of seven - usually in-clude the following two assessments:


1) An Interview:

This will usually be with the head or registrar of the school, interviewing the child and parents to-gether.

"I was worried that the interview would be a bit too much at my daughter’s age, but the whole thing was very relaxed and friendly."
Parent in Reading

It is near-impossible at this age to really know their potential academic performance. Instead, they are looking for signs of inquisitiveness and engagement.
As a result, it is very difficult to prepare your child for such an interview, as the interviewers will see past ready-prepared answers. Perhaps just guiding them on what the head and school will look like beforehand might help calm nerves in the interview room.

2) A Taster Day:

Usually, the next part of the pre-prep admissions process is a half or full ‘taster day’.

The child will attend class with a teacher and other kids - and without their parents - to assess how they interact. This might involve observing the children in playground activities, or in classroom sit-uations.

Again, it is difficult to prepare for such a task, but ensuring that your child gets the opportunity to engage with other children from a young age would be beneficial.

When slightly older children are applying to pre-prep, there is a chance they may be asked to take verbal or non-verbal reasoning tests, and tests in English and Maths. In addition, reports and a ref-erence from their previous school are often sought.

Prep School Entrance Assessments

At 7+ entry to top Prepatory schools, examinations are more and more common, especially in London.
Usually taking place in January, these exams focus primarily on Maths and English, along with verbal and non-verbal reasoning.
Not all these tests are written: some include verbal tests like spelling and memory, or even creative tasks like singing or drawing.
For more information and advice on Prep Schools, click here
With some schools receiving more than 10 applicants per place, the exams are used to whittle this down to two students per interview. It is not uncommon for schools take into account age differ-ences by weighting children’s scores.
They are then ranked on the performance in the exam and interview, before it is decided who is offered a place.

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How can you prepare?

Unlike the pre-prep applications, there are some useful ways in which children can prepare.

For English, regular practise in handwriting, reading and writing stories can help children in the en-trance exams. Similarly, for Maths, consistently practising mental arithmetic in small doses can be useful before they face tests.

Meanwhile, it can be handy to familiarise your child with reasoning tests that they’re likely to en-counter in the test. Also, most of the 7+ tests will be timed, which means time management might be something worth practising.

As a general rule, pre-prep schools will provide far more preparation than state schools, given their reputation is based on strong exit results. This might be something that prep schools take into ac-count in their decision.

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