Preparing for Senior School

At Lockers Park we are enormously proud of our record of academic success in senior school examinations, and our boys move on to a strong and varied selection of senior schools, as we carefully find the right school for each of them.

Knowing every boy inside out, partnered with a deep knowledge of the senior school landscape, means our process is completely centred around your child and what’s best for him. We are proud that we are not a feeder to any school in particular but rather offer this individual and thoughtful support.

Our Year 6-8 Senior School Preparation Programme is exceptional. We take great pride in the quality of the guidance we offer.

Your son will benefit from:

  • Extensive exam and interview practice
  • Visits to and from leading senior schools
  • Tailored scholarship coaching
  • Preparation for senior school entry tests (if required)
  • Access to our annual Senior Schools’ Preparation Evening, giving Lockers Park pupils and parents the opportunity to meet a selection of leading senior schools
  • Tailored advice from our Headmaster, Director of Studies and senior staff.

When should you research and prepare?

  • Reception upwards: Attend our annual Senior Schools Presentation Evenings. We invite schools on a rolling four to five year programme to enable you to meet a wide range during your son’s time at Lockers Park.
  • Year 4: start shortlisting schools and visit potential options.
  • Year 5: Establish a ‘Back up’, ‘Realistic’ and ‘Aspirational’ school.
  • Years 6 & 7: Sit pre-tests and early tests.
  • Year 8: In an ideal world, you should only be holding one school; this is the school we will prepare your son for.


Independent Schools Examinations Board’s (ISEB) pre-tests and entrance exams

There is a two-stage selection process for most senior schools:

  1. Year 6 ISEB pre-test consisting of Maths English, Non-Verbal and Verbal reasoning. This is taken online taken at Lockers Park, often in November.
  2. Year 7 & 8 assessments e.g. Harrow and Bedford tests. Typically English, Maths, Reasoning and an interview.

In addition, all boys at Lockers Park will take either a Scholarship exam or Common Entrance exam at the end of Year 8.

The ISEB pre-test

Most senior schools use the ISEB’s pre-test as an initial gauge on whether a candidate is suitable for their school. This is an online test that consists of English, Maths, Non–Verbal and Verbal reasoning assessments.

Most schools ask us to administer the test in November in Year 6, although there is some flexibility with timings, and some schools may ask us to do it in Year 7 (e.g. Bedford School and Berkhamsted Boys’ School).

The test is taken at Lockers Park and a pupil can only take the test once in an academic year. Once the pupil has taken the test, the senior schools that he has registered for can all access the result. A pupil will only be able to do the pre-test if they have registered for a school. It is the senior school’s responsibility to register your son for the pre-test. At Lockers Park, we will do some preparation for the pre-test via Critical Thinking lessons in Year 5 and through workshops at Saturday School.

Senior school entrance tests

For many schools the ISEB pre-test represents the first round. If your son has met the standard then in many cases the senior school will run their own entrance test in Year 7 or early in Year 8. This will consist of English, Maths and Reasoning, and on occasions include Science and French. Preparation for these tests will happen in lessons, although for those that might benefit from some extra support, we will run workshops at Saturday School.

The Common Entrance exam

All of our Year 8 pupils, with the exception of scholarship candidates, are expected to take the Common Entrance exam at the end of Year 8 in June. This exam is organised by the ISEB. Candidates are tested in the three core subjects with the addition of French, Latin, History and Geography. It helps senior schools with setting and provides a good focus for the boys to work towards in their final year. Again, content will be covered in lessons with some extra support available at Saturday School.

Scholarship exams

Boys who have shown either academic ability or talent in Music, Sport, Drama, Art or Technology may be put forward by Lockers Park for a scholarship attempt. Not all schools offer scholarships across the board and the assessments vary in their nature, depending on the senior school. For most senior schools these assessments will happen in the spring term of Year 8. Academic scholars will not normally be expected to do Common Entrance.


Interview tips

As a general rule, senior school interviews can be divided up into questions that are, essentially, A) fact-finding:

  • What is your favourite subject?
  • Do you have any hobbies?
  • Music/drama/sport achievements
  • What books have you enjoyed?
  • Why do you want to come to this school?

And B) those questions which require some out-of-the-box thinking:

  • If you could go back in time which era would you go to?
  • If you could change one law, what would it be?
  • What news stories interest you?
  • How would you describe yourself in five words?

Your son might also be asked to discuss a picture or piece of writing.

What he must remember is that the interviewer is only trying to get to know him – they don’t really want to catch him out. As such, there are a few things to remember:

  • First impressions count—think about appearance, smile, be polite, make eye contact.
  • Consider good body language—hold a good posture, don’t fiddle.
  • It’s a conversation. Don’t regurgitate learnt information; it should be a two-way process.
  • Some questions can be prepared for (e.g. the fact-finding questions above).
  • Don’t undersell yourself—try to remember all the elements of your life at Lockers Pak. What positions of responsibility have you had? What are your passions? What prizes have you won?
  • For the more challenging questions, remember that all they are looking for is a smile and a response. There is no correct answer, so think and talk it through. “That’s a difficult question, let me think,” can relax you and get you into gear.
  • If you don’t understand a question don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.
  • Most importantly, smile, relax and try to enjoy it.