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Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Private School Admissions: General Guide

Dulwich College

There are two main points of entry for British private schools. Most students enter their school at the age of 13. This is through the Common Entrance Examinations, the school’s scholarship exam or the school’s own entrance exam. This point of entry is by far the easiest and the most popular. The other is at the age of 16. Entry at 16 is limited and only a limited number of places are available. It is definitely harder to gain admissions at this point. I will try to explain the pros and the cons of entering at the two ages. Every school’s admissions system is different. However I will explain the common patterns of every school.

Entry at 13
Registrations should be made at least 36 months or 3 years before the point of entry. Therefore planning should be done as soon as possible. The candidate is allowed to apply to as many schools as they wish. When the candidate is aged 10, the school will request a confidential report from the candidate’s current school. For more selective schools, the candidate will be invited to come to their school for a day of cognitive tests and an interview. No candidate will be able to prepare for these tests as it tests how the candidate thinks not what they know. The candidate will be told if they have been given a conditional place after around 3 months. Some unsuccessful candidates will be placed on a waiting list instead just in case someone declines the conditional place. This conditional place is conditional upon passing the Common Entrance Examinations to the required level. At around 18 months before the point of entry, parents will have to either accept or decline the conditional place. If they decide to accept, they must pay a fee which will not be refunded until the student’s last term at the school or if they fail to pass the CE exams. After their place has been accepted, gifted students may apply for scholarships such as sport, academic, music, technology or drama. The student may be guaranteed a place if they perform well in the academic scholarship exam, even if they did not receive a scholarship. If an application is received late, each application will be reviewed individually.

Entry at 16
It is very difficult to find similarities for entry at 16 at various schools but this is the main outline. Application deadlines are usually in September/October/November in the year before the entry. So application should be made in 2010 if entry is in 2011. At top private schools, selection is very competitive and places are very sought after as a consequence, it is a fierce competition to be awarded with a place. If the candidate is attending a school overseas which does not offer GCSE/IGCSEs then the GCSE requirement does not apply here. However there will be requirement for everyone else the any places awarded will be conditional upon their GCSE results. Schools will invite candidates for a day of academic tests and interviews. The candidate will be examined in the 3 or 4 subjects that they have selected for A-levels in October/November. As many students learn different curriculums in their current schools, the school will set an exam that tests their potential and background knowledge of the subject. Again, no candidate can prepare for these exams. There will be interviewed in their 4 different subjects and also a general interview. In December, the candidate will be told if they have been given a conditional place.

As you can see, there are lots of differences between entry at 13 and entry at 16. Entry at 16 is possibly the most difficult route and it is also difficult for me to generalise the admissions process for entry at 16. Therefore it is so so important that you do research on the schools you are interested in. However, hopefully this has enabled you to gain a small insight into the admissions process at different ages. I will be posting on popular and famous schools’ admissions systems as they tend to be very unique and even more demanding and competitive than what I have explained above. I am looking to do Eton, Westminster, Harrow and possibly others. If you have any other schools in mind please leave a comment. I actually have personal experiences of applying to a couple of these schools (most of them successfully!) so I will be able to tell you all about my experiences. Till then.

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