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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 is one of the most well-known 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 in 12 boarding houses – each with its own facilities and gardens. Pastoral support is provided by experienced house teams, including housemasters and matrons, an on-site GP surgery, psychologists, 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: 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 66% A*–A

  • GCSE results: over 70% 9–8

Key info for 13+ admissions

  • Admissions contact: [email protected], 020 8872 8007

  • Overview of 13+ 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 5

  • Assessment date: autumn term after registration

Harrow School fees and financial assistance

The fees at Harrow School in 2023–2024 are £16,850 per term. Fees include the cost of boarding, tuition, textbooks, a stationery allowance, and laundry.

Financial assistance

Harrow School offers means-tested financial assistance to boys who meet the entrance criteria but whose families would not otherwise be able to afford the school fees. This type of financial assistance is known as a bursary. If you think your child would be eligible for a bursary, you should tell the school 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. These awards are specifically for boys who need substantial financial support.

Year 7 awards include:

  • John Lyon’s Charity Bursaries. These are available to 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. Primary school applicants should be working at a minimum score of 110 at Key Stage 2. Prep school applicants should be expected to achieve 70% or more in the Common Entrance exam.

  • Peter Beckwith Scholarships. These scholarships are for boys who show potential in sports, music, drama, or another creative activity. They should also be working at an academic standard that is likely to lead to admission to Oxbridge.

  • Churchill Places. These are for boys who can show personal courage, wide-ranging thinking and a global outlook. Primary school applicants should be working at a minimum score of 110 at Key Stage 2. Prep school applicants should be expected to achieve 70% or more in the Common Entrance exam.

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


A variety of scholarships are available for boys applying for 13+ entry to Harrow. 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

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Harrow School 13+ admissions process

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

Harrow is highly competitive. The school uses five main criteria to determine which boys to offer places to.

  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 registering your son, it's important to visit Harrow first to make sure that the school is the right fit. All children board full-time at Harrow, so your child needs to be comfortable living away from home for several weeks at a time.

Harrow recommends that you visit when your child is in Year 4 or Year 5. There are frequent Saturday open mornings held throughout the autumn and spring terms. These involve talks from senior staff and current pupils, meetings with the registrar, and tours of the school site and boarding houses.

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.

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

2. Register for 13+ 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. Children registered after this will be considered late applicants, and will compete 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 13+ entry to Harrow School will take the ISEB Common Pre-Test. This should be taken between the 1st October and the end of the autumn term in Year 6. If your child attends a UK prep school, he will probably take this at his current school. Overseas applicants can take the test at a local British Council office or another approved testing centre.

The ISEB Common Pre-Test is taken online. It is completely adaptive, which means that the questions become more challenging depending on how your child is performing. The test takes around two and a half hours to complete, although the components can be taken together or at separate times.

All the questions in the test are multiple-choice. They cover four subjects:

  • English: reading comprehension, spelling, punctuation and grammar

  • Maths: Key Stage 2 topics (number, measurement, data, algebra and geometry)

  • Verbal reasoning: using logic and problem-solving to interpret written information

  • Non-verbal reasoning: using logic and problem-solving to interpret visual information

Ultimate guide to the ISEB Pre-Test

How is the ISEB Common Pre-Test marked?

Your child's marks will be added up to create a raw score. This is then converted into a standardised age score (SAS). An SAS takes into account the number of correct answers, the level of difficulty for each question, and your child's age. This prevents children born later in the school year from being disadvantaged.

As a guide, children applying to selective schools like Harrow School should be aiming for an SAS of 120 or above in the ISEB.

ISEB mock tests

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4. The Harrow Test

Children who are successful in the ISEB Common Pre-Test are shortlisted for the Harrow Test. This takes place in the spring term in Year 6.

The Harrow Test consists of:

  • A 20-minute interview with a housemaster

  • A one-hour online assessment (English, maths, verbal and non-verbal reasoning)

  • A 20-minute classroom-based group activity

Did you know? Children using Atom Home to prepare for entrance exams can take online mock tests similar to the Harrow Test!

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

5. Results

You will receive your child's result from the Harrow Test in April or May in Year 6. Your child will receive one of four results:

  • 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 List: no offer

All offers are subject to your child's performance in the Common Entrance or academic scholarship exams.

6. Common Entrance & academic scholarship exams

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

Most children take Common Entrance papers. Children who perform well in the academic scholarship exams are unlikely to be required to take these papers.

Children applying from schools which prepare their pupils for the Common Entrance (i.e. prep schools) take the full range of Common Entrance papers. There is no pass mark, but the results your child achieves determine which sets he will be placed in. Your child will be expected to take:

  • Core Maths (and preferably Additional Maths)

  • Core English

  • Core Science

  • French (Level 2 or 3)

  • Latin (Level 2 or 3)

Children applying from schools which do not prepare their pupils for the CE (excluding those in Hong Kong) take the following papers:

  • Core English

  • Core Maths (and preferably Additional Maths)

  • Maths Calculator

  • Maths Non-calculator

  • Maths Arithmetic

  • Core Science

  • French and Latin (only if studied at school) – excluding French listening and speaking

Children applying from schools in Hong Kong will take Core English, Core Maths (and preferably Additional Maths), Core Science, and French and Latin (if studied). They will not ned to take French speaking and listening exams.

Top tips to prepare for entry to Harrow School

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

Here are our top tips to help prepare your child for 13+ entry to Harrow.

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.

Atom Home makes learning a more enjoyable process for your child. They'll explore exciting worlds full of interactive questions, earning coins to spend in the Atom shop. Atom's adaptive algorithm fits to your child, showing them questions at just the right level of difficulty to keep them motivated.

Tailored preparation for Harrow School

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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 Harrow or other selective schools.

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