Back to blog

St Paul’s School: 13 plus entry guide

By Atom | Jun 7, 2023, 11:35 AM

St Paul's School, London

Are you considering St Paul’s 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 St Paul’s School

St Paul’s School is one of the top private schools in the UK and provides a prestigious education for boys aged 7–18. It was founded in 1590 by John Colet, Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, to educate boys ‘from all nations and countries indifferently.’ The school encompasses a senior school (13–18) and a prep school, St Paul’s Juniors, for boys aged 7–13.

The school is located on a 45-acre site by the River Thames in Barnes, South West London. Boys have access to exceptional facilities, including a RIBA award-winning science building and the new Samuel Pepys Theatre (named after the famous former pupil). St Paul’s has a very strong reputation for sport, with almost 30 physical activities to choose from, and many pupils progress to regional, national, and international levels.

80% of students at St Paul’s go on to study at the top 12 UK universities, while 13% take up places at North American universities (Ivy League or equivalent). The school describes its own pace of life as fast – bright boys thrive in a wide variety of academic pursuits and an unparalleled range of co-curricular activities.

The main entry point to St Paul’s School is at 13 plus. Boys looking to join St Paul’s at 11 plus apply separately to St Paul’s Juniors.

  • Headteacher: Sally-Anne Huang

  • Address: St Paul’s School, Lonsdale Road, Barnes, London SW13 9JT

  • London borough: Richmond-upon-Thames

  • Age range and gender: 7–18, boys only

  • Number of pupils: 1,500+

  • National league table rank (Sunday Times Parent Power): 2

  • A level results: 98.8% A*–B

  • GCSE results: 98.9% 9–7

Key info for Year 9 entry

  • Admissions contact: [email protected]

  • Open day: Saturday 9th September 2023. Book online

  • Selection process: ISEB Common Pre-Test, written tests, interviews and headteacher’s reference

  • Registration deadline: Wednesday 20th September 2023 (entry in 2026)

  • Assessment date: October/November 2023 (ISEB), 8th January 2024 (St Paul’s tests)

St Paul’s School fees and financial assistance

The fees at St Paul’s School in 2023–2024 are 9,895 per term.The fees include the cost of tuition, sports games, loan books, stationery, the library, medical inspection, careers aptitude tests, certain school publications and school lunch – which is compulsory for all pupils.

Financial assistance

St Paul’s School is able to provide financial support to boys who pass the entrance exams but whose families would not otherwise be able to afford the school fees. Known as a bursary, this type of financial assistance is means-tested.

Most financial support is focused towards boys applying at 11 plus and 16 plus to reflect the natural state school entry point. As a guide, families with a combined household income of less than £120,000 may be entitled to some level of financial support.

Find out more about bursaries at St Paul’s School.


St Paul’s School awards scholarships at 13 plus entry. Scholarships are not means-tested, but awarded based on a child’s talent in a particular subject.

Academic scholarships are awarded to boys who perform particularly well in academic scholarship exams, which are held in May in Year 8. These are honorary awards, worth £60 – which many families put towards book costs.

Music scholarships and exhibitions are awarded to talented musicians, based on the outcome of an application, audition and interview. Music scholarships carry a reward of £60 plus free tuition on two instruments. Music exhibitions provide free tuition on one instrument.

St Paul’s School term dates

The 2023–2024 term dates at St Paul’s School are:

  • Autumn term: 1st September – 14th December 2023

  • Half term (remedy): 16th – 27th October 2023

  • Spring term: 10th January – 22nd March 2024

  • Half term (remedy): 12th – 16th February 2024

  • Summer term: 16th April – 5th July 2024

  • Half term (remedy): 27th – 31st May 2024

The term dates in 2024–2025 are:

  • Autumn term: 30th August – 13th December 2024

  • Half term (remedy): 21st October – 1st November 2024

  • Spring term: 8th January – 28th March 2025

  • Half term (remedy): 17th–21st February 2025

  • Summer term: 23rd April – 4th July 2025

  • Half term (remedy): 26th–30th May 2025

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

St Paul’s School 13 plus admissions process

St Paul’s School welcomes around 176 boys into Year 9 every year. Almost half of these pupils have moved up from St Paul’s Juniors, while the other half join from a wide range of schools – both preps and primary.

The next available entry point to St Paul’s School is Year 9 entry in 2026.

1. Visit the school

If you’re considering St Paul’s School for your son, it’s a good idea to visit first. St Paul’s is selective and has a fast-paced environment, so it’s important to make sure your son would be happy and thrive at the school.

13 plus open afternoons are held in the spring, summer, and autumn terms. Find out more about upcoming events and book a place on the school website.

2. Register for 13 plus entry

Once you have decided to proceed with your child’s application to St Paul’s, you will need to register for entry to Year 9. The next available entry point is for 2026, for boys born between 1st September 2012 and 31st August 2013.

To register, complete the online application form before midnight on Wednesday 20th September 2023. You will need to upload an electronic copy of your son’s passport and pay a registration fee of £200, which is non-refundable.

After St Paul’s has received your son’s application, the admissions team will contact your child’s current headteacher to request a report. The headteacher will be asked to comment on your child’s character, academic strengths and interests.

3. ISEB Common Pre-Test

All boys who are registered for 13 plus entry to St Paul’s School will take the ISEB Common Pre-Test. This will be preferably completed at your child’s current school between 2nd October and 24th November 2023. However, if your child’s current school cannot administer the test, your son can take it at St Pauls’ School on 18th November 2023.

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

You will need to register your son separately to take the ISEB Common Pre-Test. Registration for 2026 entry will be available from the ISEB from mid-August 2023.

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 St Paul’s School.

As a guide, we generally recommend aiming for a standardised score of 125 or more when applying to competitive selective schools like St Paul’s.

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. Second stage exam

In mid-December, you will find out if your child has been invited to the second stage of the entrance process. This will depend on your son’s performance in the ISEB Common Pre-Test and the strength of the reference from his headteacher.

Children who are selected to move to stage two will be invited to sit written tests at St Paul’s. These will take place on 8th January 2024 – when your child is in Year 6.

  • Maths: 60 minutes

  • English: 45-minutes. Children will be asked to write a response to one of three topics.

5. Interviews

Children who perform well in the written tests will be invited back to St Paul’s School for the third and final stage. This will take place between January and June in Year 6.

The third stage of the process consists of two interviews, each with a senior member of the teaching staff. Each interview will last approximately 25 minutes and will be a discussion about your child’s academic studies. While your child is being interviewed, you will have the opportunity to meet with a senior member of staff.

Find out more about the sorts of questions your child might be asked in our guide to school interviews.

6. Offers

You will find out if your child has been offered a place at St Paul’s School approximately three weeks after the interviews. There are three potential outcomes:

  • Place on the main list: a conditional offer which must be accepted by the end of Year 7. Children who accept this offer will need to maintain good conduct and progress at their current school, with a further reference of support from their headteacher in Year 8.

  • Place on the reserve list: after the deadline for acceptance of main list offers has passed, the reserve list will be reviewed early in Year 8. St Paul’s will request an up-to-date report from your child’s headteacher and your son might be invited to take further written papers in English and maths. Following these, some boys will be offered unconditional places and a few more will be placed on a small waiting list.

  • No offer

Top tips to prepare for entry to St Paul’s School

St Paul’s School is looking to identify boys who are naturally curious about learning for learning’s sake, and have interests beyond their school curriculum. As a top school in the UK, it’s also a highly popular choice for families – so entry is competitive.

Here are our top tips to help your child prepare for the selection process and feel confident for the exams.

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 in Year 5 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 recaps the curriculum, 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 Home is the award-winning online learning platform, designed to support families with entry to the UK's leading schools.

Build knowledge

Answer questions, earn coins! You control your learning. We’re here to help if you get stuck.

Build knowledge

Practice tests

Track progress

Build knowledge with Atom Nucleus

Prepare for St Paul’s the smart way.

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

Start free trial
Atom Nucleus pricing

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 St Paul's School 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

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.