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Westminster School: 13 plus entry guide

By Atom | Apr 26, 2023, 9:25 AM

Westminster School, London

Are you considering Westminster School for your child? We've collated everything you need to know about applying for a place in Year 9. Find out key dates, learn what’s covered on the entrance exam, and get tips and resources to help your child prepare.

About Westminster School

Westminster School is a leading private school for boys aged 13 to 18 and girls aged 16 to 18. The historic school is located next to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament in Central London and is recognised as one of the most successful schools in the world.

Students at Westminster School are encouraged to develop a love of learning and an openness to embrace new ideas. The curriculum incorporates traditional subjects alongside more contemporary options, including theology and philosophy, electronics, product design, and languages such as Mandarin and Russian.

Excellent academic results are second nature at Westminster School, with students’ grades placing the school firmly within the top 10 in the UK. Each year, approximately 40 students are offered places at top universities in the USA, with others taking up courses at leading institutions such as LSE, Imperial College, the Courtauld Institute, the Sorbonne, the Royal College of Music and the New York Film School.

  • Address: Westminster School, 17 Dean’s Yard, Westminster, London, SW1P 3PF

  • School type: private day and boarding, boys aged 13–18 with a mixed sixth form

  • Headteacher: Dr Gary Savage

  • Number of pupils: 750+

  • Fees per term: £10,488–£15,144

  • National rank (Sunday Times Parent Power): 7

  • A level results: 97.5%

  • GCSE results: 98%

Key info for 13+ admissions

  • Admissions contact: [email protected], 020 7963 1003

  • Registration deadline: 30th September in Year 6

  • Assessment date: October/November in Year 6

  • Assessment type: ISEB Common Pre-Test and school's own second stage

  • Open days: throughout the year – more details are available on the school website

Westminster School fees and financial assistance

The fees at Westminster School in 2022–2023 are £10,488 per term for day pupils (Years 9–11) and £15,144 per term for boarding pupils. Fees in the sixth form range from £9,090 per term (for 16+ King’s Scholars) to £15,447 per term.

Financial assistance at Westminster School

Westminster School is committed to helping children of exceptional talent and promise benefit from its education, regardless of their financial position or background. A programme of bursary support (means-tested financial assistance) provides approximately £1.4m each year to pupils across the prep and senior schools.

Means-tested day bursaries can cover up to 100% of day fees. For your child to be eligible for a bursary, you will need to have lived in the UK continuously for two years before making your child’s application, and you will need to be living specifically in London at the date of application.

Find out more about bursaries at Westminster School.

Westminster School scholarships

Westminster School is able to offer academic and music scholarships to boys applying for 13 plus entry. These are awarded on a competitive basis and are not means-tested, although scholarships can be supplemented by means-tested bursaries if there is financial need.

These are academic scholarships awarded to boys who perform well in a Year 8 exam called ‘The Challenge’. 8 boys applying for 13 plus entry are usually awarded King’s Scholarships each year. King’s Scholars are required to board at the school but pay the equivalent of day fees, rather than boarding fees.

Westminster School term dates

The term dates at Westminster School are:

  • Term starts: Saturday 2nd September 2023

  • Exeat weekend: Friday 22nd – Sunday 24th September 2023

  • Half term: Saturday 14th – Sunday 29th October 2023

  • Exeat weekend: Saturday 18th – Monday 20th November 2023

  • Term ends: Saturday 9th December 2023

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Westminster School 13 plus admissions process

Each year, Westminster School offers around 60 external places to boys at 13 plus entry (Lower School) from a wide range of prep schools, including Hall School, Dulwich Prep, Sussex House, Tevor-Roberts’, Hereward House School and more. In 2022, 69 pupils moved up from Westminster Under School.

Most children are day students, but around 180 pupils across Years 9–13 choose to board. You won’t need to make a final decision about day versus boarding until February when your son is in Year 6.

Boarding for children in Years 9–11 is only available during the week. Children must attend Saturday morning school, but boarders then return to their parents’ home for the rest of the weekend. Westminster does not take international boarders at 13 plus entry.

1. Visit Westminster

If you’re considering Westminster School for your son, the school encourages parents to visit first when your child is in Year 5. There are three 13 plus open days and regular school tours each year.

Find out more about future tours and register your interest on the school website.

2. 13 plus registration

The admissions process begins when you register your son with the school. Registration for the relevant year of entry opens on 1st October in Year 5 and closes on 30th September in Year 6.

You will need to pay a registration fee at the time of application. This costs £300 and is non-refundable. However, if you are applying for a bursary, you may be able to waive this fee – contact the admissions team for details.

3. ISEB Common Pre-Test

Your son will take the ISEB Common Pre-Test at his prep school in October or November in Year 6. This is an online test that is completely adaptive, meaning the questions 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

Around the same time, Westminster School will send a request for your child’s school report to his current school.

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 Westminster School.

As a guide, competitive selective schools like Westminster School will generally require candidates to reach an ISEB Common Pre-Test score of 125 or more.

Guide to the ISEB Test

Atom Learning

Read our comprehensive guide to the ISEB Common Pre-Test and get tips and hints to help your child prepare.

Learn more
ISEB test on Atom Nucleus

4. Second stage tests & interviews

In mid-December in Year 6, Westminster School will get in touch to let you know whether your son has been shortlisted for the next stage of the admissions process. This decision will be based on his performance in the ISEB Common Pre-Test and his latest school report.

Around half of 13 plus applicants are invited to the interview stage. Children will take further tests, which are taken in January:

  • English: 40 minutes

  • Maths: 40 minutes

A separate one-to-one interview will then be scheduled for late January or early February.

A screenshot of an English question in a Westminster School 13+ Stage 2 mock test on Atom Nucleus

Pictured: an English question in a Westminster School 13+ Stage 2 mock test on Atom Home

5. Offers

Westminster School will write to you to let you know whether your son has been offered a place by the end of February when he is in Year 6.

Offers are unconditional, and are given to boys who the school believes will be able to comfortably achieve the required standard for entry when he joins the school aged 13. Westminster will ask your child’s prep school for a final reference of support in March when he is in Year 8.

If your son is not offered an unconditional place, he may be placed on the waiting list. Westminster School sometimes asks head teachers at prep schools to send an update on the progress of boys who are on the waiting list. If a space later becomes available, some of these boys then may be offered places up to the end of June in Year 8.

Top tips to prepare for entry to Westminster School

Westminster School is a highly selective school, with strong competition for places at 13 plus. The school receives approximately 500 applications each year for around 60 places.

Here are our top tips to help your child prepare effectively for the admissions process at Westminster School.

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.

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Wondering how to make sure your child learns all the content for entry to Westminster School, 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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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 Westminster School.

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