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Like many other independent schools, at Town Close School our pupils take Common Entrance examinations in the Summer Term of Year 8. They cover a broad range of subjects and stretch children far beyond what would normally be expected for Year 8 children in many subjects. This curriculum and these exams prepare the pupils very well for GCSE. Some Senior Schools require children to sit Common Entrance exams as part of their entrance to the school.
Our Year 8 pupils who sat their Common Entrance exams in the Summer Term 2023 performed very well. 93% of all grades were A* to C grades. An impressive 47% of the overall grades were graded as either A* or A. Well done to all of the pupils who sat these exams and for their hard work!
Which subjects are examined?
At Town Close, pupils sit Common Entrance exams in English, French, geography, history, maths, science and TPR (Theology, Philosophy and Religion). Pupils are also able to pick whether they would like to study and sit a Common Entrance exam in either German or Spanish, or the HSK1 exam in Mandarin. The table below outlines the papers that pupils sit for each subject.
|Two written papers
|French / German / Spanish
|One listening paper, one reading and writing paper and one speaking exam
|One written paper, plus a coursework project carried out earlier in Year 8
|One written paper
|One mental arithmetic paper, one calculator paper and one non-calculator paper
|Pupils either sit separate biology, chemistry and physics papers if working at the ‘Core’ level. If they are working on the ‘Foundation’ curriculum then they will sit one paper
|One written paper
How challenging is the Common Entrance curriculum?
For most subjects, the curriculum is more advanced than would ordinarily be expected for this year group as outlined in the National Curriculum. That said, we prepare our pupils and tailor our teaching to support the pupils and accommodate this from Year 6 upwards to promote excellent pupil progress.
Are there different levels of examinations for the children to take?
For some examinations, there are different levels that the children can take in the examinations. These are as follows:
- In English pupils can either sit the Core or Foundation papers
- In French and Spanish, pupils can sit either Level 1 or Level 2 papers
- In maths, there is the option for pupils to sit either the Foundation or the Core papers. For a small number of pupils, there will also be the opportunity to sit an additional Advanced paper
- In science, pupils can sit either the Foundation or Core papers
Does my child have to sit the Common Entrance exams even though they are not required by their chosen Senior School?
All of our Year 8 students sit the Common Entrance exams. This prepares them extremely well for their future studies, as well as helping them to become more comfortable and confident within an exam environment. Many of our ex-pupils have remarked on how the Common Entrance exams prepared them excellently for their GCSE exams. It is also an opportunity to really celebrate what they have achieved and the progress that they have made.
Our teachers are incredibly supportive of all learners and ensure that teaching is differentiated to promote excellent pupil progress. Every year there are a small number of pupils who have additional time with the Learning Support department instead of learning either German, Mandarin or Spanish. These lessons provide them with an opportunity to work on core skills needed throughout the curriculum.
Who marks the exams?
Some pupils’ assessments are assessed by Senior Schools, which have the freedom to adapt the mark-scheme, making standardisation and comparisons inexact. Many academically selective Senior Schools require a score of 55% or even 60% to achieve a ‘C’ grade, with an ‘A’ often representing a very good standard indeed. The remaining papers are marked by us, internally, as a School.
How much Prep work do we expect children to do at home?
When pupils move into Years 7 and 8, our expectations increase in terms of the amount of homework (Prep) that they do at home. Pupils are set a piece of homework daily and, generally, this will take between 45 and 60 minutes to complete. In the run up to exams, the homework timetable is paused to give pupils extra time for independent study and revision.