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Winchester College: 13 plus entry guide

By Atom | Apr 12, 2023, 2:42 PM

Winchester College, Hampshire

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

About Winchester College

Winchester College is a private school in the medieval city of Winchester, Hampshire, founded in 1382. It provides day and boarding education for boys aged 13 to 18 and welcomes girls aged 16–18 into its mixed sixth form.

Children learn at Winchester College within a 'culture of curiosity'. The school has a well-renowned reputation for academic success and students leave for top universities in the UK and abroad. Beyond the traditional curriculum and public exams, students study a unique programme of general cultural studies, known as 'Div', which encourages lively discussion and debate.

Most students board at Winchester College to make the most of opportunities beyond the classroom. Students live in one of 11 boarding houses – many of which are traditional listed buildings – and are looked after by a dedicated pastoral team. Co-curricular interests are explored using state-of-the-art facilities, with activities spanning areas including sports, music, the arts, enterprise, oratory, academia, politics, and outdoor pursuits.

  • Headteacher: Tim Hands

  • Address: Winchester College, College Street, Winchester, SO23 9NA

  • County: Hampshire

  • Age range and gender: boys aged 13–18, mixed sixth form

  • Number of pupils: approx. 700

  • National league table rank (Sunday Times Parent Power): 50

  • A level results: 92.5% A*–B

  • GCSE results: 91.2% 9–7

Key info for 13+ admissions

  • Admissions contact: Registrar: Mr Andy Shedden ([email protected])

  • Open day: 10th June 2023 (for current Year 4 pupils). See the school website for details

  • Overview of selection procedure: ISEB Common Pre-Test and interview (Year 6), and final exams (Year 8)

  • Registration closes: 3rd July in Year 5

  • Assessment date: October–November in Year 6 (ISEB Common Pre-Test), January–March (interview) and April–May in Year 8 (final exams)

Winchester College term dates

The term dates at Winchester College in 2023–2024 are:

Autumn 2023

  • Autumn term (Short Half): 10th September – 9th December 2023

  • Autumn exeats: 29th September – 1st October 2023 & 17th–19th November 2023

  • Autumn half term (Leave-out): 19th–29th October 2023

Spring 2024

  • Spring term (Common Time): 10th January – 23rd March 2024

  • Spring exeats: 26th–28th January 2024 & 8th–10th March 2024

  • Spring half term (Leave-out): 9th–18th February 2024

Summer 2024

  • Summer term (Cloister Time): 17th April – 6th July 2024

  • Summer exeat: 4th–6th May 2024

  • Summer half term (Leave-out): 24th May – 2nd June 2024

Fees at Winchester College

The fees at Winchester College in 2022–2023 are £33,990 per year for day pupils (£11,330 per term) and £45,936 per year for boarding pupils (£15,312 per term).

Winchester College is able to provide financial support to children who are offered a place, but whose families would not otherwise be able to afford the school fees. Nearly 20% of students receive a bursary – a non-repayable grant determined by means-testing. More information about bursaries at Winchester College, and how to apply for one, is available on the school website.

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Winchester College admissions process

The admissions process for 13 plus entry to Winchester College starts early. Parents are encouraged to start researching the school and attend an open event, or book a smaller registrar's tour, in late Year 4 or early Year 5.

This timeline is unusual for families in the state sector. However, if you would still like your child to be considered for a place at Winchester College and you have missed any of the following deadlines, don't hesitate to get in touch with the school's admissions team who will be happy to help.

1. Complete your child's application

After you have visited Winchester College, you will need to start your child's application by completing the online form before 3rd July in Year 5. A non-refundable registration fee of £375 applies.

You will then have the opportunity to visit up to two housemasters and tour each boarding house.

2. ISEB Common Pre-Test

All children who have been registered for 13 plus entry will be invited to take the ISEB Common Pre-Test in October/November in Year 6. This is an age-standardised exam, taken on a computer, which looks at a pupil's attainment and potential. We've included more information about the test below.

Your child's results in the ISEB Common Pre-Test will be emailed to you in early December.

3. Interview

If your son has achieved a good result in the ISEB Common Pre-Test, he will be invited to an interview at Winchester College in January–March in Year 6. The housemaster or registrar will email you with the results of your son's interview in May.

Interviews are designed to explore your child's skills and personality. Your child's interview may also include practical elements, such as an academic task or a show-and-tell opportunity. Find out more and get top tips to support your child in our guide to private school interviews.

4. Offers

Offer letters will be sent by the headmaster in the summer term in Year 6. If your son is successful and you would like to accept the place, you will need to sign and return the offer letter, along with an acceptance fee of £1,000, by 1st July.

You will then be invited to an open morning, specifically for families who have accepted a place, in January or February of Year 7. This will include talks from the headmaster and senior leadership team, and activities to help you and your son explore the opportunities on offer at the school. You will also meet your child's housemaster and other boys and parents who will be joining the house.

5. Final exams

Your son will be invited to sit either the Election or Winchester Entrance exam in April or May in Year 8. We've summarised the key information for these exams below, but you can find more details on the school website.

Winchester Entrance exam

The majority of candidates take the Winchester Entrance exam, either at their own school or at an approved centre. This consists of English and maths papers, each lasting 1 hour and 30 minutes, which are aligned to the Key Stage 3 and Common Entrance syllabus.

Children joining from independent schools must also take written papers in science, geography, history, and a language (Latin, French, Spanish, German, or Greek) – but these are optional for children joining from state schools.

Election exam

Particularly bright children will be invited to take the Election exam. Successful pupils will be awarded either an academic scholarship, an exhibition, or a headmaster's nomination.

Children applying from independent schools take compulsory papers in English, maths 1, science, and general paper 1. They must also take at least three papers from Latin, French, Greek, history, geography, maths 2 and general paper 2.

Children from state schools take compulsory papers in English, maths 1, and general paper 1. They may also take additional papers, but these are optional.

The ISEB Common Pre-Test

All children applying for 13 plus entry to Winchester College take the ISEB Common Pre-Test in the autumn term of Year 6.

The ISEB Common Pre-Test is taken on a computer. It's completely adaptive, meaning the questions become easier or more challenging depending on how your child is performing. Boys will answer questions in four subjects:

  • English: covering comprehension and spelling, punctuation and grammar

  • Maths: questions cover the 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 Winchester College.

As a guide, competitive selective schools like Winchester will generally require candidates to reach an ISEB Common Pre-Test score of 120 or more.

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Guide to the ISEB Test

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

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ISEB test on Atom Nucleus

How to prepare for entry to Winchester College

Winchester College is a selective school, and entry to Year 9 (13+) is significantly competitive. Here are our top tips on how to best prepare your child for the selection process in Year 6.

Preparation is key: familiarisation with the question formats and known styles ahead of the exam is essential. Access to quality, unlimited practice material for the ISEB Common Pre-Test ensures confidence when tackling the exam.

Achieve mastery quickly: the ISEB Common Pre-Test assesses a huge amount of content. Atom's adaptive algorithm creates your child's personalised learning journey specific to your target schools, with over 90,000 expert, teacher-created resources to support your child to fully master each topic.

Access to instant support: learners need clarification to address any misconceptions and become truly secure in their understanding of a topic. Access to videos, help sheets and engaging examples for each question builds confidence and competence in all areas covered in the exam.

Engage with their progress: celebrate their improvements in their areas of challenge together! An accurate, ongoing assessment of your child’s strengths and development areas is instrumental for preparing efficiently. Atom's Parent Portal gives you data-driven insights into your child’s areas of strength and development.

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Children work independently through over 90,000 interactive practice questions in English, maths, verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Teacher-created helpsheets and videos help them discover new concepts and consolidate their learning.

Atom's algorithm keeps children on their ideal learning path, tailored to their unique learning style and pace to keep them challenged and motivated.

ISEB mock tests

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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 Winchester College or other selective schools.

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