Chapter 2 – Pre-prep admissions: how does it work?

Now that we’ve established why pre-preparatory education is beneficial, we can go onto the admissions process and getting your child into a top independent pre-prep.

Specifics will vary from school to school, but the current procedure looks something like this:


Parents choose schools and apply directly to them.


Depending on whether the school is selective or not, successful applicants will receive an invitation to assessment or an acceptance letter.


At assessment stage, schools will narrow down candidates to a handful of children.
Given the young age of the children, these are friendly, informal tests and an application fee must be paid at this stage.


Schools will offer places to the children who impressed them at the assessment.
Due to the high demand for places, many schools will prioritise siblings, or give places to kids who have attended their nursery.


Parents must accept the place as soon as possible.
Failure to do so will result in the place being given to someone on the waiting list.

Even if your child is very bright, it can still be difficult to obtain a place at a leading pre-preparatory. London pre-prep schools are known for their 10:1 place ratio, despite the applicants being only 3 years old.

If youre worried about how to prepare your child for this stage of their education, take a look at our Early Years Tutors. All our private pre-prep tutors are familiar with the top pre-prep schools in the UK and can provide extra support for both parents and applicants.

Co-educational or single sex?

Many preparatory schools tend to be catered to all-boys or all-girls education, which should be considered at the application stage.

While a co-ed pre-prep school ensures that boys and girls are encouraged to mix, most independent schools are single gender after 11+. Opting for a single-sex pre-prep early on means students tend to find it easier to settle into secondary school.

This is a decision that depends entirely on the individual, so take care to choose the right fit for your child.

How can parents prepare for pre-prep?

Private tuition can help familiarise your child with the style of assessment they will have to complete, but there are other things you can do to make the entry into pre-prep as successful as possible:

  • Communicate with your child talk to them, ask questions and encourage them to read with you regularly. This will allow them to become curious and inquisitive, skills that will be invaluable at 7+, 11+ and 13+ stages.
  • Be organised your child’s abilities are only half the application process, so make sure you do your research ahead of time.Selective pre-preps will often have a strict registration process, which means you will only be considered for assessment if your child is registered with the school in advance. For non-selective schools the rules are more rigorous, as places will be given on a first-come-first-served basis.
  • Be realistic and stay calm remember that your child is only 3 years old when you start applying for pre-prep schools. Most children will not have even started to read or count properly at this point, so there’s no need to expect miracles at assessment stage.

At pre-preparatory stage, schools are simply looking out for a child’s potential and willingness to learn.

If your child is unsuccessful at pre-prep stage, remember that they can always have another try at 7+.