Eton College Admissions Process

The Eton College admissions process explained

Categorised in: Insights | Posted on: 4 April 2024

Entrance to Eton College remains as competitive this year as ever before.

It is thought some 1400 students apply for around 240 places at Eton College. However, if your son is a good candidate and would be genuinely suited to the school, these numbers ought not to put you off.

There are three parts to the Eton assessment process. If the candidate exceeds the basic threshold for Part 1, then all three parts can be taken into account when making a decision. If the candidate does not exceed the basic threshold for Part 1, they do not advance to the other stages of assessment. Assessments take place in Year 6; if a candidate is waitlisted, some parts of the assessments can take place again in Year 7.

Part 1: 11 Plus ISEB Common Pre-Test

The 11 Plus ISEB Common Pre-Test is an online test, divided into four papers: Maths, English, Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning. It is traditionally sat at the candidate’s current school. The ISEB Common Pre-Test is the standard, nuts-and-bolts 11 Plus that is used by many independent boarding schools in the UK. If your son is applying to Eton, Harrow and Radley, for example, then they need only sit this test once and the result will be communicated to all schools. It will serve as the first-round assessment for each one.

Competitive candidates for Eton College will score over 120 SAS (Standard Age Score) in the 11 Plus ISEB Common Pre-Test. Your child’s progress can be measured using an online preparation platform like Atom Learning or Century-Bond. The latter – it should be noted – is the only platform that ISEB recognises as an official preparation tool. Reasonable candidates might score 115 SAS (approximate basic threshold) and still hope to be called to interview and further assessment. However, a score around 115 SAS will most likely count against the candidate when all the parts have been completed – such a score may be lower than that of a boy who has performed just as well in the other parts, and the boy with the higher ISEB score will most likely be offered the place.

Eton College Entrance

Part 2: Eton College Test

The Eton Test is a bespoke, online test developed for Eton College by an external provider. It is sat at Eton College on the same day as the interview. In many ways, the Eton Test is the best-kept secret of the application process; and very few people can give an accurate explanation of what is in it. It is particularly good to be wary of those who make such vague claims as ‘a mixture of verbal and non-verbal problems’ and ‘it’s gamified’, as they are unlikely to be able to give your son the best possible support to prepare for this test. While boys report that the test is not un-colourful, it sets about examining candidates in a handful of pre-determined ways: numeracy, vocabulary and spatial memory are among the skills tested. Time is of the essence, in the test just as in the preparation for the test.

Part 3: Interview

The interview takes place on the same day as the Eton Test, at Eton College. It lasts around 15 minutes. Some boys report that waiting for their interview to take place was nerve-racking but the interview itself was enjoyable and the Master interviewing them put them at ease. Other boys report that the Master did not put them at ease and instead bombarded them with rounds of follow-up questions in an attempt to get to the bottom of something.

The Masters that conduct these interviews sit at the top of their profession. They are assessing a boy’s aptitude for life at Eton, and they can tell fairly quickly if the boy in front of them does not match the boy who is depicted in the reference written for him by his current school or in any correspondence between his parents and the admissions department in advance of the interview. For this reason, boys are advised not to tell porkies! The candidate who claims to play the cello when, in fact, he cannot will come unstuck rather quickly.

Candidates might discuss their current school, thoughts on boarding, subject interests and co-curricular interests including music and drama.

If your son is applying to Eton, or you are considering Eton as one of his senior-school options, you might like to speak to an expert.

Mitchell Byrne

Read more:

> ISEB Pre-Test Consultations

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