Back to blog

Harrow School: 13 plus entry guide

By Atom | May 23, 2023, 10:32 AM

Harrow School, London

Are you considering Harrow School for your son? We've collated everything you need to know about entry to Year 9, including key dates and what's covered on the entrance exam.

About Harrow School

Harrow School is a private boarding school for boys aged 13–18. It was founded in 1572 by local landowner and farmer John Lyon under a royal charter from Queen Elizabeth I. Harrow School’s influence and history have made it one of the most well-known and prestigious schools in the world.

Harrow School is located on a 300-acre estate in northwest London, only 20 minutes from the centre of the capital by fast train. All boys board full-time and belong to one of 12 boarding houses – each with a unique character and their own facilities and gardens. Experienced and well-supported house teams provide ongoing pastoral support, with members of staff including house masters and matrons, a pastoral support committee, an on-site GP surgery, psychologists and counsellors, and a chaplaincy.

Boys at Harrow go on to study at the top global universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale and Brown. The school has an extensive list of distinguished alumni, including former prime ministers of the UK and India, members of parliament and various royal families, Nobel Prize winners and prominent figures in the arts and science.

  • Head Master: Alastair Land

  • Address: Harrow School, 5 High Street, Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex, HA1 3HP

  • London Borough: Harrow

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

  • Number of pupils: 800+

  • A level results: over 75% A*/A

  • GCSE results: 75% A*/9/8

Key info for Year 9 admissions

  • Admissions contact: Dr Eric Sie – [email protected], 020 8872 8007

  • Open day: 9th September, 23rd September, 14th October, 4th November, and 2nd December 2023. Find out more and book a place on the school website

  • Overview of selection process: ISEB Common Pre-Test, the Harrow Test, interviews, group activity, school reference, and Common Entrance or Academic Scholarship exam

  • Registration closes: 1st May in Year 7

  • Assessment date: autumn term after registration

Harrow School fees and financial assistance

The fees at Harrow School in 2022–2023 are £15,570 per term. Fees include the cost of boarding, tuition, textbooks, a stationery allowance, and laundry.

Financial assistance

Harrow School is able to offer means-tested financial assistance, known as bursaries, to academically-bright boys whose families would not otherwise be able to afford the school fees. It’s recommended to inform the school of your need for a bursary when making an application.

In addition, Year 7 awards are available to boys who apply by early October in Year 6. These awards can cover up to 100% of the school fees at Harrow School, plus Years 7 and 8 at a prep school. The amount of funding is dependent on the parents’ financial circumstances, but these awards are specifically available for boys who need substantial financial support.

Year 7 awards include:

  • John Lyon’s Charity Bursaries: for boys who have lived in the boroughs of Barnet, Brent, Camden, the City of London, Ealing, Harrow, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, or Westminster for more than two years and are achieving a minimum score of 110 at Key Stage 2 (primary school applicants) or are expected to achieve 70% or more in the Common Entrance (prep school applicants)

  • Peter Beckwith Scholarships: for boys who show potential in sport, music, drama or another creative activity, and are of an academic standard that might ultimately lead to Oxbridge admission

  • Churchill Places: for boys who demonstrate the characteristics of personal courage, wide-ranging thinking and a global outlook, and are achieving a minimum score of 110 at Key Stage 2 (primary school applicants) or are expected to achieve 70% or more in the Common Entrance (prep school applicants)

To apply for a Year 7 award, contact the admissions team to request an application form. Shortlisted children will be invited to a one-day assessment (tests in English, maths and IQ, and a group activity) in the January of Year 6.


A variety of scholarships are available for boys entering Year 9 at Harrow School. These are awarded based on talent in a particular area and are not means-tested. All scholarships carry a value of 5% of school fees.

Harrow awards 13 plus academic, art, design and technology, drama, music, and sport scholarships.

Harrow School term dates

  • Autumn term: 5th September – 9th December 2023

  • Half term: 20th October – 1st November 2023

  • Spring term: 8th January – 23rd March 2024

  • Half term: 9th–18th February 2024

  • Summer term: 15th April – 29th June 2024

  • Half term: 25th May – 2nd June 2024

Support with exam prep

Exclusive tips and resources

Join the Atom Learning mailing list and get expert insights to help your child master key subjects, excel in school exams and build academic confidence.

Sign up today

Harrow School 13 plus admissions process

Harrow School welcomes around 160 boys into Year 9 each year. All boys are full boarders. While around 50% of new boys come from UK prep schools, many boys also join from Harrow from UK state schools and schools overseas.

The school is highly competitive and uses five main criteria to determine which boys should be offered places:

  1. Academic potential

  2. Good behavioural record

  3. Suitability for boarding

  4. Willingness to get involved in co-curricular activities

  5. Willingness to make a positive contribution to school life

1. Visit the school

Before beginning your child’s application, it’s important to visit Harrow first to make sure that it would be a good fit for your son. As Harrow School is boarding-only, your child will need to be comfortable living away from home for several weeks at a time. It’s recommended to visit when your child is in Year 4 or Year 5.

Harrow School holds frequent Saturday open mornings throughout the autumn and spring terms, running from 9am to 1pm. Open mornings consist of a talk from the headmaster, the director of studies and current pupils, the opportunity to meet the registrar, and a tour of the school site and boarding houses.

Find out more about upcoming open mornings and book a place on the school website.

2. Register for 13 plus entry

When you are ready to begin your child’s application to Harrow, you will need to complete the online registration form. Registration costs £350.

Registration should be completed by the 1st May when your son is in Year 5 – or by the 1st May in Year 6 at the latest. Any child who is registered after this is considered a late applicant and will be competing for fewer places. Applicants from Hong Kong should register with Ms Battie Fung at Academic Asia and applicants from China should register with Mr Tommy Meng at UK Boarding Schools Admissions Service.

Once your child has been registered, Harrow School will request a confidential reference from his current school.

3. ISEB Common Pre-Test

All boys applying for Year 9 entry to Harrow School will take the ISEB Common Pre-Test. This will ideally be taken between the 1st October and the end of the autumn term in Year 6. Children will usually take the test at their current school, while overseas applicants may take it at a local British Council office or other approved testing centre.

The ISEB Common Pre-Test is taken online. The questions are completely adaptive, meaning that they become easier or more challenging depending on how your child is performing. Children will answer questions in four subjects:

  • English: covering comprehension and spelling, punctuation and grammar

  • Maths: questions cover Key Stage 2 national curriculum taught up to the end of Year 5. The main topics are number, measurement, data, algebra and geometry

  • Verbal reasoning: tests logic and problem-solving with written information

  • Non-verbal reasoning: tests your child’s ability to understand and analyse visual information

How is the ISEB Common Pre-Test marked?

Each child will be given a Standardised Age Score (SAS), which is calculated based on the number of correct and incorrect answers, the level of difficulty in each question and their date of birth in years and months (to prevent younger children from being disadvantaged). Your child's ISEB Common Pre-Test score will be sent directly to Harrow.

As a guide, competitive selective schools like Harrow School will generally require candidates to reach a score of 120 or above in the ISEB Common Pre-Test.

Guide to the ISEB Test

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

Learn more

4. The Harrow Test

Children who have been successful in the ISEB Common Pre-Test will be shortlisted for the Harrow Test. This will take place in the autumn term of Year 7.

The Harrow Test consists of:

  • 15 minute interview with a house master

  • 15 minute interview with a senior teacher

  • 1-hour online English and maths assessment

  • 30-minute classroom-based group activity

Did you know? Atom Nucleus subscribers can take online mock tests that replicate the online assessment in the Harrow Test.

A question from a mock test for the Harrow Test on Atom Nucleus

5. Results

You will receive the outcome of your child’s application to Harrow School in the first week of December in Year 7. There are four possible outcomes:

  • A1 List: the offer of a place in a specific house

  • A2 List: the offer of a place, with the house to be confirmed at a later date

  • B List: the offer of a place on the waiting list

  • C ListL no offer

All offers are subject to your child performing well in either the Common Entrance or academic scholarship exams.

6. Common Entrance & academic scholarship exams

Children who have accepted a place at Harrow School will take exams in June in Year 8 to guarantee their place.

Most children will take the Common Entrance exams set by the ISEB (Independent Schools Examination Board). The number of papers taken depends on whether your child has applied from an independent or state school:

  • Independent school applicants: maths (Level 2 or 3), Latin (Level 2 or 3), English (Level 2), science (Level 2) and French or another language (Level 2).

  • State school applicants: English (Level 2), maths (Level 2 or 3), science (Level 2) and French (Level 2, if studied). The speaking and listening exams do not need to be taken.

Children applying for an academic scholarship will take the academic scholarship exams in late February in Year 8. If they perform well, they will not need to take the Common Entrance exams.

Top tips to prepare for entry to Harrow School

Harrow School is very competitive with around 600 boys applying for 160 places each year. Before making an application, talk to your child’s current teacher to see if they think Harrow would be the right school for them.

If you are embarking on the admissions process for Harrow, take a look at our top tips to help prepare your child for entry.

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 have a good understanding of the content they’ve been taught on the school curriculum before testing their knowledge with practice papers. Using a ‘little and often’ approach when recapping content is key, as our brains encode new information more effectively when dealing with smaller ‘chunks’ of information. Experts recommend study sessions should last no longer than 30 minutes for children aged 10–11.

All-in-one exam prep platform

Wondering how to make sure your child effectively learns the test 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!

Atom Nucleus is the award-winning online learning platform, designed to support families with entry to the UK's leading schools.

Build knowledge

Answer questions in English, maths, verbal and non-verbal reasoning. You control your learning. We’re here to help if you get stuck.

Build knowledge

Practice tests

Track progress

Prepare for Harrow the smart way.

Use the full features of Atom Nucleus free for 5 days – cancel anytime.

Start free trial

Personalised support for you

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 Harrow or other selective schools.

Email us
Contact us

Insider admissions info

email icon

Exam prep email list

Sign up for tips and resources direct to your inbox.

live chat icon

Parents' WhatsApp group

Join for admissions advice and updates.

tuition icon

Parent webinars

Specialist advice on exam preparation and admissions.

Atom Learning Ltd. is registered and incorporated in England and Wales. Company Registration Number: 10867907 VAT number: 316903508 Copyright Atom Learning Ltd. All rights reserved.