Most senior schools assess entrants, and these assessments can be incredibly competitive. This introduction will give you an idea of the standard procedures.
This is the traditional starting point for girls at senior school, as well as an entry point for some boys and co-educational senior schools. Applications should be in by September of Year 6. Although some schools have developed their own tests, many still use the standard Common Entrance assessments which cover Maths, English, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. Pre-tests for 11+ do exist but are still uncommon. Make sure to ask schools about this when talking to them over the weekend. London schools are all highly competitive; outside London requirements vary enormously.
This is the traditional starting point for boys senior schools and many co-educational schools. Application for a 13+ entrance should also be done by the end Year 5 to ensure no deadlines are missed. Pre-tests will then take place at the beginning of Year 6. Pre-tests are effectively the first round of the entry process. They consist of computerised verbal and non-verbal reasoning tests. If successful, prospective pupils are often then asked for an interview and following this, will be invited to sit another assessment in Year 7. Offers are then made conditional on Common Entrance results. The Common Entrance exams are sat in the summer of Year 8 in all subjects unless coming from overseas, in which case the testing will be limited to English, Maths and Science and sat in January of Year 8.
Pass marks for both the 11+ and 13+ Common Entrance nationally are generally between 50-60%. In London, given the level of competition for places, pupils should aim for considerably higher. For the top schools at least 70% is required and to win a scholarship your child aged 13 needs to be performing at A* GCSE standard. Heads of London's most competitive schools will be speaking at the Show about how you assess your child's abilities.
If your child seems to be a late developer or has special needs do not despair. There are many schools at the Show who cater brilliantly for precisely these kinds of children, and the independent sector has a truly remarkable record of adding real value and enabling every child to achieve their full-potential.
Do remember that there are always exceptions to the rules. Independent schools are precisely that independent. Whilst they share much in common entry procedures do vary. These idiosyncrasies can only be fully grasped by talking to each school and discussing their entry requirements. For a fuller picture come to the Independent Schools Show and speak to the schools in person.