February 3, 2023

How you can prepare for the ISEB common pretest

The ISEB pre-test is there to help assess the current ability of a child and academic potential. This pre-test usually has questions that are based on a huge amount of content that are available at Key State 2. Therefore, children must have time to learn and consolidate this information. 

When it comes to English, you need to encourage your child to write imaginative stories, read for pleasure, and debate with other family members. This can lead to a significant improvement in their verbal and written communication skills. On the other hand, for Mathematics, your child needs regular practices of foundation level skills. The Pretest Plus is a great way for your child to test themselves. This article discusses how you can prepare for the ISEB common pretest.

Understanding ISEB common pre-test

The ISEB pre-test is a widely utilized online test for children who are moving from prep or primary schools to selective secondary schools. In most cases, it usually has multiple choice questions and four sections that include Mathematics, English, verbal reasoning, and non-verbal reasoning. You should note that there is a level of age-weighting in the exam so that younger children are not disadvantaged. 

This test can take at least two-and-a-half hours to complete. English is allocated 25 minutes, Mathematics takes 50 minutes, verbal reasoning has 32 minutes, and non-verbal reasoning takes 36 minutes.

It’s worth mentioning that your child can take the four exams together or at separate times. Also, they can do the test in your child’s school or at any senior school for which they are entered. A test can start with a specific set of instructions that your child needs to read carefully. These instructions can tell your child how to handle the exam.

Verbal reasoning questions can include common antonyms, words, work combinations, number codes, and letter transfer. Non-verbal reasoning questions may include matrices, shape analogies, and horizontal codes. Mathematics content is aligned to the National Curriculum, while English questions tend to focus on sentence completion, reading comprehension, punctuation, and spelling. Your child can be assessed based on their knowledge of the National Curriculum topics which are available to the end of Year five.  

The good thing about ISEB assessments is that they are adaptive and online. This means that if your child answers the questions correctly, the test can become more challenging. And, each question needs to be answered, and your child cannot get back to previous questions. When taking the test, your child can track their progress within the test using a question number. 

By now you may be wondering what ISEB is all about. Well ISEB refers to an Independent Schools Examination Board. This board sets the common entrance exams in Year 8 or in Year 6 and the common re-Test utilized by the Independent school sector. 

The common Pre-Test is just an online test which senior schools can use rather than running their entrance pre-tests. Because many schools are now taking it up, it has reduced the number of exams that students have to take. 

How you can offer support to your child

The common Pre-Test doesn’t need any preparation, but your child needs to be familiar with it. The ISEB doesn’t provide any practice tests or papers, but you can find some online programs that can assist.

You can also find some schools that can help prepare your child for the curriculum from year 4 and offer pre-test preparation sessions that are aligned to the requirements of the tests available in Year 6 and 7. The truth is that preparation begins at a younger age with number skills, reading, and cognitive development all playing a significant role in how well your child can perform. Hence, it’s crucial for parents to think about their children before they decide to get places at school that can be too selective for them. It’s a good idea for your child to take advice from their teachers so that you can focus on the right school for your kid.

As the child approaches the test, you can help them by encouraging your child to do some online practices, especially if their school doesn’t provide this in-house. But you need to avoid causing anxiety and stress because children tend to do well in tests when they are not pressurized a lot. 

Another thing you should note is that there is no pass mark because every school usually has different requirements and utilizes the test scores in various ways. The common Pre-Test offers the senior school standardized scores that are based on the level of difficulty they got and their accuracy. This score can be based around a usual distribution where 100 is the average.

A selective school can use the common Pre-Test score besides the reference from your child’s current school. They can then invite your child if they are successful back for another test or even group activities as well as an interview. After this, the school can offer your child a place, no place, or wait list place. The common Pre-Test usually accounts between 25 and 30 percent for these schools by the end of the selection process, though it can be the key in the initial decisions the school makes.

There are also other schools that may use the common Pre-Test score alongside the reference from your child’s current school, interviews, and a taster day that involves group activities. These schools can look at the information they have before making any decision. For some of these schools, a Pre-Test accounts for only 10 percent of the process. In such cases, the key drivers are the interview and reference from your child’s current school. Hence, the test can be a crucial element of this process, though it’s not everything.

The tests are conducted just once per academic year, meaning your child cannot retake them. But the senior school can still consider the reference in case your child fails the common Pre-Test. Therefore, they can check the performance of your child and contact their current school to check if there was anything that may have affected them on the test day. Also, the prep school can contact the senior school if your child was not feeling well while taking the test. If your child did not do well, some schools can put them on a waiting list and request them to retake the test the following year while others can reject your child.  

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