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RGS Guildford: a parents’ guide to Year 7 entry

School guide
RGS Guildford: a parents' guide to Year 7 entry


The Royal Grammar School, more commonly known as RGS Guildford, is an independent day school for boys aged 11–18. It was founded in 1509 when Robert Beckingham, a Freeman of the City of London, left a bequest in his will to establish a free school in the historic town of Guildford. It initially educated 30 bright local boys from low-income families and has now grown to a school roll of over 900.

Boys at RGS Guildford study a broad curriculum that allows them to play to their individual strengths and passions. In addition to traditional subjects, there are five languages on offer (French, Spanish, German, Greek and Latin), as well as contemporary subjects such as digital learning and computational thinking. The school is consistently one of the top boys’ schools in the country at both A level and GCSE; in 2022, 80.9% of A level grades were awarded A* or A, and 80% of GCSEs were awarded the highest grades at 9 or 8 (A* equivalent). In the last 10 years, nearly 300 RGS leavers have secured places at Oxbridge.

RGS Guildford is focused on partnerships – both local and national – to share resources and expertise and bring together pupils from a wide range of backgrounds. The school is an active member of the Guildford Education Partnership, working closely with local Multi-Academy Trusts on a range of outreach initiatives with local state and independent schools. RGS has also opened global partner schools in Qatar, China and Dubai since 2015.

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Key information for RGS Guildford

  • Head: Dr Jon Cox

  • Address: Royal Grammar School, High Street, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 3BB

  • County: Surrey

  • Admissions contact: Mrs Kathryn Sweet – [email protected], 01483 880 600

  • Age range and gender: 11–18, boys only

  • Number of pupils: 969

  • Open day date: small group tours in the summer term – book a place online

  • Overview of selection procedure: ISEB Common Pre-Test, creative writing task, interview and school reference

  • Registration closes: 19th October 2023

  • Assessment date: November 2023

RGS Guildford fees and financial assistance

The current fees at RGS Guildford are £6,840 per term. Lunch is compulsory for pupils in Years 7 and 8 and costs £305 per term.

RGS Guildford is able to provide means-tested financial assistance, known as bursaries, to bright boys whose families would not otherwise be able to afford the school fees. Around one-third of boys attending RGS Guildford come from state primary schools, and over 70 pupils receive means-tested financial assistance.

The current support ranges between 5% and 100% of the school fees, while families on very low incomes may also receive support with the cost of school lunch, travel, trips and other financial aspects. As a guide, families with a net household income of less than £26,000 per annum with limited assets may be eligible for a full 100% bursary; financial assistance is then provided on a sliding scale for higher incomes up to a net household income in excess of £75,000.

Scholarships are also available for 11 plus applicants to RGS Guildford, and these are not means-tested. The school offers both academic and music scholarships, which range from 5% to 10% fee-remission.

RGS Guildford term dates

The term dates at RGS Guildford for 2022–23 are:

  • Autumn term (Michaelmas): 6th September – 9th December 2022

  • Half term: 17th–28th October 2022

  • Spring term (Lent): 4th January – 24th March 2023

  • Half term: 13th–17th February 2023

  • Summer term (Trinity): 18th April – 7th July 2023

  • Half term: 29th May – 2nd June 2023

The term dates at RGS Guildford for 2023–24 are:

  • Autumn term (Michaelmas): 7th September – 12th December 2023

  • Half term: 23rd October – 3rd November 2023

  • Spring term (Lent): 3rd January – 22nd March 2024

  • Half term: 12th–16th February 2024

  • Summer term (Trinity): 16th April – 5th July 2024

  • Half term: 27th–31st May 2024

Admissions process for Year 7 entry to RGS Guildford

If you are interested in RGS Guildford for your son’s secondary education, the school offers an online experience, which includes a series of videos about daily life at the school and an interactive map. Small group tours can also be booked in the summer term.

All prospective pupils must be registered with the school to begin the admissions process. Entry to Year 7 in 2023 is now closed, but if you would like your son to be considered for a place in Year 7 in 2024, you will need to complete the online registration form and pay the non-refundable registration fee of £100. The deadline is Thursday 19th October 2023, after which the school will seek a confidential reference about your son from his current headteacher.

Candidates will all sit the ISEB Common Pre-Test during the autumn term when they are in Year 6 (see more details about this below) and will sit a short composition/English creative writing task. Your child will also have an individual interview with a member of staff. RGS Guildford will be looking for the following characteristics in the interview:

  • How well your child engages in the learning process

  • Evidence of an inquisitive mind

  • How well your child is able to challenge and question

  • The flexibility of your child’s thought process

  • How well your child is able to develop his answers

Some boys may be invited back to the school in January for a second interview, which is an opportunity to give all boys the benefit of doubt. This second interview may provide an opportunity to reflect on inconsistency in performance and will allow the school to identify the children who are likely to thrive at RGS, but who have not performed consistently in the assessment.

You will receive a letter with the outcome of your child’s application towards the middle of February in 2024. If your son has been successful in securing a place at RGS Guildford and you would like to accept, you will need to send a formal acceptance by early March.

Scholarships at RGS Guildford

Children who have performed exceptionally well in the 11 plus entrance exam will be invited to sit the RGS 11 plus academic scholarship papers in the middle of January, while they are in Year 6. This will consist of:

  • A 1-hour English paper. This will be a little more demanding than the main entrance exam paper, and will not be in multiple-choice format.

  • A 1-hour maths paper. This is not in multiple-choice format; boys will need to show their working.

  • An interview with the head of admissions or the senior master.

If you would like your child to be considered for a music scholarship, you will need to return an application form to the school by January in Year 6. Candidates should be able to offer a principal instrument at about Grade 5 standard, and singing or a second instrument at about Grade 3 standard. If the principal instrument is piano, your child should be able to offer a higher grade on the second instrument.

Music scholarship candidates will be invited to a half-hour audition at the end of January in Year 6. They will need to bring evidence of all their musical activities, including compositions. The audition will consist of performances, aural tests and sight-reading (both at about Grade 4 standard) and a short interview.

The 11 plus exam at RGS Guildford

All 11 plus candidates for RGS Guildford will take the ISEB Common Pre-Test during the autumn term of Year 6. This is an online adaptive exam – the questions become more challenging depending on how your child is performing.

You will need to register your son separately for the ISEB Common Pre-Test via the ISEB website. You only need to register your child once, regardless of how many schools you are applying for.

The ISEB Common Pre-Test takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes to complete. Questions span four subjects:

  • English: 40 minutes available. The content covers reading comprehension and SPaG (spelling, punctuation and grammar).

  • Maths: 40 minutes available. Pupils are tested on Key Stage 2 maths, which includes number and place value, calculations, fractions, decimals and percentages, measurement, geometry, and statistics.

  • Verbal reasoning: 30 minutes available. . Candidates are tested on their logic and comprehension, including problem-solving techniques, trial and error skills, the ability to work logically, the ability to recognise suitable solutions, and knowledge of vocabulary and definitions.

  • Non-verbal reasoning: 36 minutes available. Pupils will be asked to analyse 2D figures and diagrams and look for patterns, and manipulate 3D figures and diagrams to visualise them in different ways.

Guide to the ISEB Common Pre-Test

Exclusive resource: Best exam techniques for the ISEB. Free download

How to prepare for entry to RGS Guildford

Build foundational knowledge

The 11 plus exam for entry to RGS Guildford assesses a huge amount of content. Your son will be tested on his knowledge and understanding of the Key Stage 2 curriculum and beyond, with questions covering Key Stage 2 English and maths in addition to verbal and non-verbal reasoning, which are not taught on the primary curriculum.

Your child can consolidate everything they need to know with Atom Nucleus. They'll have access to over 90,000 interactive teacher-created questions and learning resources spanning English, maths, verbal and non-verbal reasoning.

English learning journey on Atom Nucleus

Preparation is key

Familiarisation with the question formats and known styles ahead of the exam is essential to help your child build exam confidence.

An exam preparation subscription with Atom Nucleus enables your child to access quality, unlimited practice material with full score breakdowns to help your child feel confident by the time the exam day comes around.

Your son can take mock tests for the ISEB Common Pre-Test multiple times without repeatedly seeing the same questions. Meanwhile, you’ll be able to see his results instantly, including their performance compared to peers and suggested areas for improvement.

ISEB Common Pre-Test mock exam on Atom Nucleus

Access to immediate support

When working through challenging topics, your child will need immediate clarity with any misconceptions so that they feel truly secure in every topic. Atom Nucleus includes video tutorials, help sheets and examples with every question to help your child build confidence and competence across all the areas assessed.

A helpsheet available on Atom Nucleus

Engage with their progress

Celebrate your child’s improvement in areas of challenge together. An accurate and ongoing assessment of their areas of strength and development is helpful.

As an Atom subscriber, you’ll have a parent dashboard which offers data-driven insights into your child’s progress. You can use this effectively to help your child set targets, see a detailed breakdown of their progress by subtopic and set custom practices to target those they find most challenging.

Parent dashboard on Atom Nucleus

Get started with Atom Learning

It’s our mission to help your child feel prepared and confident before the exam day. Begin your free 5-day free trial of Nucleus today to help your child succeed.

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We know how crucial this time is, so our team is on hand to support you and your family every step of the way. You can book a call with one of our Education Experts to ask any questions you might have about 11 plus entry to RGS Guildford:

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