Independent school admissions FAQs

What are the ISEB Common Pre-Tests?

The ISEB (Independent Schools Examination Board) Common Pre-Tests are an online assessment taken by students as part of the admissions process for many leading independent senior schools in the UK.

The Common Pre-Tests are online multiple-choice tests in English, Mathematics, Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning.

Click here for an ISEB Walkthrough, which allows you to view the test platform and explore the tests.

ISEB offers a knowledge base for families full of information and useful articles in their support portal here.

Which schools use the ISEB Common Pre-Tests?

A full list of the senior schools that use the ISEB Common Pre-Tests can be found below.

Applicants who pass the exams may be invited for an interview, or for further tests.

  • ISEB Common Pre-Tests information for families here
  • ISEB Common Pre-Tests information for schools here

Make sure you check with the school to see which tests or providers they will be using. A list of schools using the ISEB Common Pre-Tests (2022-23) can be found here.

ISEB Common Pre-Test Registration application and dates

Registrations are currently open for the 2022-2023 testing session. For applicants taking the test from October 2023, registration will open in August 2023.

There is no charge to parents or guardians for registering children for the Common Pre-Tests. You will only need to register your child once for the Common Pre-Tests, regardless of how many schools they are applying for.

Visit the ISEB website to learn more about the ISEB Common Pre-Tests.

The ISEB Common Pre-Tests examination documentation can be found here.

What is covered in the ISEB Common Pre-Tests?

The ISEB Common Pre-Tests assesses four subject areas:

  • Maths
  • English (reading comprehension, spelling, punctuation, and grammar)
  • Verbal reasoning
  • Non-verbal reasoning

The ISEB Common Pre-Tests are designed to identify attainment levels and potential.


The English and mathematics tests are designed in line with topics and knowledge that pupils will be taught in class. They therefore assess a child’s ability to recall what they have been taught and apply this knowledge to solve problems in core areas of the curriculum.

English: questions on reading comprehension and grammar (including spelling).

Mathematics: questions are based on the National Curriculum for Mathematics until the end of Year 5.


The verbal and non-verbal reasoning tests enable pupils to demonstrate their academic potential through a range of question types that may be unfamiliar to them. It is the pupils’ ability to analyse, think critically, find patterns and problem solve that is assessed. These abilities are important indicators of potential as they indicate a pupil’s ability to acquire new information and apply this to situations they have not previously come across.

Verbal reasoning: questions assess a range of English language skills including word meaning, comprehension, reasoning and logic.

Non-verbal reasoning: questions assess non-verbal reasoning and spatial reasoning.

ISEB recommends pupils use the ISEB Test Walkthrough to familiarise themselves with the test platform, explore the accessibility features and see the styles of questions that might be asked during the test.