What is the 7+?
The 7+ is the descriptive name given to the entrance exams set by an increasing number of independent schools for pupils wishing to gain admission into their Year 3.
7+ entrance exams may be simply for admission into a selective preparatory school, which will then prepare the child for Common Entrance exams to gain a place at senior school. Alternatively, the 7+ can be a route into a school with both prep and senior departments, therefore often effectively bypassing the 11+ or 13+ Common Entrance exams.
The Independent Schools Examinations Board provides Common Entrance examinations and assessments for pupils seeking entry to independent senior schools at 11+ and 13+, but there is as yet no equivalent for the 7+. The testing is largely undertaken by the individual schools, although some schools might commission test from external agencies. Many schools in the incredibly competitive London area offer entrance exams at 7+ and some, such as Haberdasher’s Aske’s Boys’ School, share specimen papers on their website to clarify what 7+ children will face.
Who sits the 7+?
The 7+ is sat by Year 2 children, who may be moving from a state primary school or a stand-alone pre-prep school to an independent prep school (although many prep schools now have their own pre-prep department, with a cohort of children poised to pass into Year 3 there).
Registration for 7+ entrance exams usually closes in the November of Year 2, with the exams then sat in January or February, for entry that September.
How is the 7+ assessed?
Written exam content will be primarily English and maths based, whilst spelling, dictation, mental arithmetic and more creative skills may be assessed verbally on a one-to-one basis. Group exercises are also sometimes used to look at a child’s initiative and their ability to work with others.
Schools will not only be looking for academic potential, but also good citizens and a mixture of personalities to produce a well-rounded year group. For this reason, children are often asked to attend an interview. Some schools interview all candidates, whilst others may call back a limited number with good test results. They will be looking for a child’s ability to look an adult in the eye and think on their feet, but also simply to show some spark and personality.
After the assessments, children will be told if they have been successful in gaining a firm place, or a place on a waiting list.
As the 7+ is not centrally regulated, it is best for parents to seek accurate admissions and testing information direct from the schools in which they are interested. In addition to a school’s facilities and ethos, choosing a school for admission at 7+ will probably also involve whether the school has a senior department and if not, the prep school’s record in gaining its students places at target senior schools.
Experienced educational consultants may be able to help parents decide which independent prep school is best suited for their child, based on their personality, senior school ambitions and academic potential. Many parents enlist the help of tutors to prepare children for the 7+, if only to reduce the fear of the unknown in these very young children. This is achieved by teaching them the required curriculum, what to expect on their test and interview days, and giving them the opportunity to practice tackling the type of assessments they will face.
The Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS) is a schools association with around 650 of the world’s leading prep schools in membership.
The Tutors' Association is the professional body for tutoring and wider supplementary education sector in the UK. www.thetutorsassociation.org.uk
This information was supplied by Lorrae Jaderberg and Katie Krais, Joint Founders and Managing Directors, JK Educate.
See also 'Preparing your child for 7+ Entrance Exams'.