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Eton College: 13 plus entry guide

By Atom | Sep 18, 2023, 2:06 PM

Eton College, Berkshire

Chances are that you have heard of Eton College – one of the top private schools in the UK and famous for educating world leaders, award-winning actors and prime ministers.

The boys-only boarding school was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI and places are extremely competitive. Each year, around 120 children will be offered a place.

We've collated everything you need to know about the admissions process for Eton. Keep reading to find out:

  • What to expect at each stage of the 13+ entry process

  • The format and content of the entrance exam

  • How to help your child prepare (with free resources to boost exam prep!)

Key information for Eton College

  • Headteacher: Simon Henderson

  • Address: Eton College, Windsor, SL4 6DW

  • County: Berkshire

  • Age range and gender: 13–18, boys only

  • Number of pupils: 1,300+

  • A level results: 95.4% A*–B

  • GCSE results: 80.2% 9–7

13+ admissions

  • Admissions contact: [email protected], 01753 370611

  • Open day: private tours – contact the admissions team to book

  • Overview of entry process: ISEB Common Pre-Test, second-stage online assessment, interview, and Year 8 assessments

  • Registration closes: 30th June in Year 5

  • Assessment date: October–November in Year 6 (ISEB), spring/summer in Year 6 (second stage), spring in Year 8 (Common Entrance/Eton Entrance)

Eton College fees and financial assistance

The fees at Eton College in 2023–2024 are £16,666 per term. Fees include the cost of teaching, boarding, the majority of educational materials, and most games activities. The school fees for each academic year are set the previous May.

Financial assistance

Eton College is able to offer means-tested financial assistance (bursaries). Boys who pass the entrance process but whose families wouldn't otherwise be able to afford the fees may be eligible for a bursary. Around 20% of Eton students are currently on a bursary, and many students pay no fees at all.

If you would like your child to be considered for a bursary, you will need to complete a bursary application form. An independent company will visit you at home to assess your family circumstances.


Eton College also offers a variety of awards and scholarships to boys entering the school in Year 9:

Each year, 14 boys are awarded a King’s Scholarship. King’s Scholars live together in the same boarding house.

The King’s Scholarship exam takes place in late April in Year 8. The papers are based on the Common Entrance syllabus, but students need to provide more advanced analytical responses.

King's Scholars can receive up to 100% fee assistance based on financial need.

Eton College term dates

The term dates at Eton College in 2023–2024 are:

  • Term starts: Wednesday 6th September

  • Short leave: Friday 22nd – Sunday 24th September

  • Long leave: Saturday 14th – Sunday 29th October

  • Short leave: Saturday 18th – Monday 20th November

  • Term ends: Thursday 14th December

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Eton College 13+ entry process

Each year, Eton College welcomes around 120 boys into the school. Children come from a range of state and independent schools.

The admissions process begins in Year 5. However, many families begin considering Eton College and book a personal visit much earlier.

1. Research the school

If you’re considering registering your son for Eton, it’s a good idea to do your research first. Eton is academically selective and all children board full-time. It's important to get a feel for the school first to make sure it's somewhere your child will thrive.

You can book a personal tour of the school site, facilities, and boarding houses with the admissions team. Make sure to take a look at the school website and read through the prospectus too. You'll be able to find out more about teaching and learning, daily life, and the sorts of activities your son can get involved in.

2. Register for 13+ entry

To register your son for entry to Eton, you'll need to complete the online application form before the 30th June in Year 5. Make sure to have a copy of your child's birth certificate on hand. When you're ready to submit the form, you'll be asked to pay a registration fee of £400.

If you think your son will need a bursary to study at Eton, make sure to contact the fees and bursaries team before completing the application form. They will be able to provide more guidance about your child’s application and might be able to waive the registration fee.

3. Stage 1: ISEB Common Pre-Test

The first stage for 13+ entry to Eton is the ISEB Common Pre-Test. This is taken in October or November in Year 6.

If your child currently goes to a prep school, he will likely take this at his current school. If your child's school can't facilitate the test, he might be able to take it at an approved testing centre.

The ISEB Common Pre-Test is taken on a computer. It's adaptive, meaning the questions become more challenging depending on how your child is performing. The questions cover four subjects:

  • English: reading comprehension, spelling, punctuation and grammar

  • Maths: number, measurement, data, algebra and geometry

  • Verbal reasoning: logic and problem-solving with written information (e.g. letters, words and numbers)

  • Non-verbal reasoning: logic and problem-solving with visual information (e.g. shapes, diagrams and pictures)

The admissions team will also be in touch with your son's current school. They will be asked to provide a report on his academic strengths, interests, and personal character.

How is the ISEB Common Pre-Test marked?

Your child's scores in each test are added together and then converted into a Standardised Age Score (SAS). This takes into account the number of correct answers, the level of difficulty in each question, and your child's age in years and months.

Age-standardisation is common practice in entrance exams. It prevents younger children from being disadvantaged.

Competitive selective schools like Eton are usually looking for high scores in the ISEB Common Pre-Test. However, there's no specific score to get into Eton. There are other elements in the admissions process to help consider the whole child.

Ultimate guide to the ISEB Pre-Test

Find out everything you need to know about the ISEB Common Pre-Test. Get tips and hints and downloadable resources to support your child’s exam prep!

Learn more
Prepare for ISEB exams the smart way

4. Stage 2: second assessment and interview

You'll find out whether your son has passed Stage 1 by mid-December in Year 6. Children who have performed well in the Pre-Test and who have a positive school reference are shortlisted for Stage 2.

The second stage assessments take place throughout the spring and summer terms in Year 6. Your son will take the test with other children born at a similar time in the year:

  • Boys born between September and the first half of December take the test in late January or early February

  • Boys born between the second half of December and March take the test in late February or early March

  • Boys born between April and August take the test in late April or early May

If you have applied for financial assistance, your child will be tested in late January regardless of when he was born. However, his age will still be taken into consideration.


The Stage 2 assessment is often referred to as the Eton List Test. It's an online test designed by Cambridge University and looks at both ability and potential. Your child will be tested on English, maths, verbal and non-verbal reasoning.

Like the ISEB test, the Stage 2 test is adaptive. Your child will not need extensive IT skills to complete it.


Your son will also have an interview with a member of Eton College staff. This step in the process is designed to look at the whole child, rather than just exam performance.

Your child might be asked questions about his hobbies outside of school, his awareness of current affairs, and his interest in Eton College. The interviewer will want to see that your child loves learning and is interested in the world around him.

This is an opportunity for your son to be himself, so his responses should be authentic. Get top tips to help your child build key skills for his interview and download a free interview handbook in our guide to private school interviews.

Free Eton practice exercises

Help your child practise for the English section of the Eton List Test with these four free essays! These exercises are designed to test your child’s ability to spot errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Download now
Example from a practice essay for the 13 plus second stage assessment at Eton College

5. Offers and boarding house visits

You'll be informed of the outcome of Stage 2 by July in Year 6. There are three potential outcomes – a conditional place, a place on the waiting list, or no offer. If your child is offered a place on the waiting list, he will be invited to a reassessment in the summer term in Year 7.

Children who are offered a conditional place are invited to visit their potential boarding house in the autumn or spring term in Year 7. Eton aims to find a house for each child where there is a mutual good fit with his family.

6. Year 8 exams

Children who are offered a conditional place are invited to final exams in the spring term of Year 8. Your child will need to pass these exams to qualify for an unconditional place.

There are three types of exams:

The Common Entrance exam is usually taken by boys applying to Eton from independent schools. The exam is set by the ISEB (Independent Schools Examination Board).

Children who sit the Common Entrance for entry to Eton have compulsory and optional papers. The compulsory papers are English, maths (higher level), science, and one language (French, German or Spanish). Boys can also take optional papers in other subjects, but there's no set number that your child needs to take.

Top tips to prepare for entry to Eton College

If your son's academic ability is at the top of his year group, he may be a suitable candidate for Eton College. Before starting an application, it's a good idea to speak to his current teachers to find out more about his potential.

In the meantime, here are our top tips to help your child prepare for the selection process.

It can be tempting to jump straight into practice papers to prepare for school exams. However, this is not an effective way to learn and can cause children to feel demotivated.

Your child should feel comfortable with the Key Stage 2 curriculum before using practice papers. When your child is recapping content, make sure to use a 'little and often' approach. Our brains encode new information more effectively through smaller chunks of information. Experts recommend daily study sessions of no longer than 30 minutes for children aged 10–11.

Get ready for entrance exams

Wondering how to make sure your child learns all the exam content, stays on track with their progress, and gets help when they're stuck? Online learning is a particularly efficient, cost-effective (and fun) way to do this!

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We understand how important this next step is for them, and for you. Please don't hesitate to get in touch with any questions you may have about applying to Eton College or other leading schools.

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