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It is becoming increasingly common for senior schools to use the ISEB Common Pre-Tests as part of their 13+ selection procedure. The Pre-Tests are sat from the Michaelmas Term of Year 6, meaning that pupils need to be registered early – for some schools the registration deadline is the end of June in Year 5.

The Common Pre-Tests are online, adaptive assessments that include Verbal Reasoning, Non-verbal Reasoning, English and Maths. The questions are all multiple choice and take about two and half-hours to complete. The Pre-Tests are generally sat at Vinehall rather than at the senior school to which the pupils have applied. The following information about the Pre-Tests is taken from the ISEB website (

The key features of the tests are:

  • they cover verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, English and mathematics
  • they are online and adaptive
  • they are in a multiple-choice format
  • they take about two-and-a-half hours to complete (English 25 minutes, mathematics 50 minutes, non-verbal reasoning 32 minutes, verbal reasoning 36 minutes)
  • the four tests can be taken together or at separate times, either in the candidate’s own school or at the senior school for which he or she is entered
  • candidates are registered by the senior school (or schools) for which he or she is entered
  • results are available to all senior schools which register candidates, so a child need only sit the test once for a range of senior schools

The Pre-Tests are produced by GL Assessment and are similar to the CAT tests and Progress Tests in English and Maths (also produced by GL Assessment) that pupils at Vinehall sit every year. Consequently, Vinehall pupils will be familiar with the format of the assessments and so are unlikely to be fazed by the Pre-Tests.

Practice assessments for the ISEB Pre-Test are not available, but at Vinehall, we use a website called Atom Learning to help pupils to prepare for the Pre-Tests. Children start preparing for Pre-tests from Year 5.

Atom Learning tests, teaches, retests and tracks pupils’ progress across the same areas as the Pre-Tests (Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning, English and Maths). As pre-tests approach, children sit full mocks on this platform. 

There is an 11+ preparation activity, which runs at a lunch time, and pupils from Year 5 who will be sitting the Pre-Tests in the Michaelmas Term of Year 6 are advised to sign up to this and continue with this into the Michaelmas Term of Year 6. 

The children can access Atom Learning from home and Parents can also log in to see how their child is progressing. There is a parent add-on which can also be purchased in addition.