Home > Applying for Schools > Common Entrance Examination

Common Entrance Examination

By: Jack Claridge - Updated: 16 May 2016 | comments*Discuss
Common Entrance Examination Common

The Common Entrance Examination (CEA) is used as a method of determining entrance to a particular private or independent school in the United Kingdom. These examinations are the only examinations in the United Kingdom school system which are standardised for Independent schools prior to the sitting of GCSE examinations.

It is worth noting at this point that most fee-paying schools will test and interview their pupils before admitting them.

Also important to note is that most independent schools will set out their own timetable of examinations twice a year in a bid to assess pupil performance and accurately identify those areas - or subjects - where help is needed.

Subjects Covered

The Common Entrance Examination (CEA) has a variety of subjects that can be covered. These subjects are normally made up of the following:

Compulsory Subjects

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science

Additional Subjects

  • History
  • Geography
  • Latin
  • French
  • German
  • Religious Studies

Prep Schools (Preparatory Schools)

As the name might suggest the idea of a Preparatory School (Prep School) is to prepare your child for the move to an independent - or private school - and also to prepare them for the examinations that will allow them to gain admittance. Many preparatory schools will offer the chance of preparing their pupils for the chance of admittance into one of a number of designated schools whilst some will work solely in conjunction one independent school in the area.

Preparatory (Prep) schools are for eight to thirteen year olds and at the age of thirteen they will take the 13+ Common Entrance Examination (CEA) which will allow them to attend a fee-paying school.

Sitting the Exam

The examination itself is taken at Preparatory School (Prep School) on a fixed date but the papers are marked by the preferred senior school. At this time if there are insufficient marks to warrant admittance to the preferred school, the school in question will then forward these papers to a second choice school for their perusal. The examination is used by many schools offering bursaries - or scholarships - and is accompanied by their own interviews and possible further tests or examinations.


As we have already mentioned the Common Entrance Examination (CEA) can be used as a means of allowing admittance to a preferred school - but as this examination is only used in private sector schooling the schools in question may have additional criteria which must be met before a place is granted.

You should consult with your preferred school before setting your child on the route to independent school education in order to establish their criteria and also so that you can allocate a second choice school in the event that admission is refused.

All schools will be happy to discuss with you their entrance procedure and can offer you practical advice on how best to prepare your child for the Common Entrance Examination (CEA).

In addition your Local Education Authority (LEA) will be able to offer practical advice and can provide you with a list of private tutors if you wish for your child to have additional teaching for such an exam.

Also there are websites offering past Common Entrance Examination (CEA) papers so that you and your child can see what the examination might consist of but it is by no means a certainty that previous topics will be applicable at the next sitting.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
i need the of the report of these site and what it required of me
johnd - 7-Dec-12 @ 1:48 PM
could you please put some past papers on the sight??!!
kk - 14-Oct-12 @ 9:32 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • G-bear
    Re: What to Include in an Appeal
    Can anyone help me, I need help appealing against an in year transfer I need to write a letter to explain that the school they…
    16 October 2017
  • G-bear
    Re: What to Include in an Appeal
    Can anyone help me, I need help appealing against an in year transfer I need to write a letter to explain that the school they…
    16 October 2017
  • NadSE
    Re: What to Include in an Appeal
    @Adriana - I'd say you have - if the schools admissions thought she was in school. There are way too many people falling through…
    16 October 2017
  • G-bear
    Re: What to Include in an Appeal
    Can anyone help me, I need help appealing against an in year transfer I need to write a letter to explain that the school they…
    16 October 2017
  • Linds
    Re: Get a Place at Grammar School
    Could anyone please tell me which is the best King Edward grammar school in Birmingham? My daughter got offered places at King…
    16 October 2017
  • GSOO
    Re: Scholarships for Private Independent Schools
    Hi I have a 20 month old who appears to be quite bright. He can say the alphabet, count to 10 knows his…
    15 October 2017
  • Adriana
    Re: What to Include in an Appeal
    Hello, I'm in dire need of help. My daughter was offered a school place at M11, that's 2.1miles from where we live at M40. I…
    15 October 2017
  • Zara
    Re: The Schools System in the UK
    could you please explain me: if a child missed the exam to grammar school at the age of 10 , is there any possibility to get into…
    14 October 2017
  • GetTheRightSchool
    Re: What If My Child Can't Get a Place at Any School in the Area?
    Si - Your Question:Hi my daughter hasn't been to school for over 5 months, she should…
    13 October 2017
  • Mira
    Re: Starting School Mid Term
    Hi, my son is going to reception at the moment. He is autistic. So he receive one to one support at his school. Now we are thinking of…
    11 October 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the GetTheRightSchool website. Please read our Disclaimer.