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What came up in the 2016 entry 8+ exams?


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The 8+ is a traditional entry point for boys and is offered by a small selection of prep schools. The intake tends to be less than or equal to that at 7+. One notable exception to this rule is Sussex House, which only offers entry at 8+. Even if it not a conventional entry point for a specific school, children can sometimes gain entry at 8+ if an occasional place arises. For a selective school, your child will most likely be asked to sit age-appropriate 8+ papers in english and maths (and sometimes verbal and non verbal reasoning too). For those schools with 8+ as a standard entry point, all four disciplines will usually be tested.


This article covers information from this year’s 8+ exams and relates, among others, to the the following schools:


St Paul’s (Formerly Colet Court)

King’s Wimbledon

Sussex House

Westminster Under School


Dulwich College Prep



One school set a comprehension piece about a swan and asked a selection of factual, description and inference questions. Some of the vocabulary was very challenging and the children were asked to make educated guesses as to words’ meanings. The secret to this is to use the wider context of the passage to help and even if the ‘guess’ is not right, it will give the examiner a valuable insight into the way your child approaches something unfamiliar to him. In other words, it shows how your child thinks. The maths paper was long (50 questions in 45 minutes). Fractions and decimals came up, and complicated maths problems were reported as being particularly challenging. It pays to have a firm grounding in arithmetic as this will allow your child to deal confidently with more complicated multiple-step problems. The composition exercise began with an opening line and the children were then asked to complete the story.


At one school, candidates were given 25 minutes to write a story from a picture showing a young boy and girl on a bike with a bird tweeting in the background. The picture was in colour, which can help prompt the imagination and aid description. Remember to use every clue a picture cue provides. The 20-minute comprehension exercise was a one page extract centering on a dog who wanted to leave his house. 25 questions followed, including ones testing word meanings, context and literary techniques like similes. The maths paper began with simple operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication etc) and the second part was made up of two and three step word problems. The verbal reasoning paper focused on grammar; for example, one question asked for two adjectives to describe a carrot. Non-verbal questions were focused on shapes (2D and 3D), symmetry and matching pairs.


Composition exercises at other schools included a picture of a hot air balloon and a man in a top hat as a composition prompt and the story title, ‘The Busiest Day of My Life’. So once again, all techniques were used. In previous years different genres of writing came up at 8+ (letters, diary entries), so it is a good idea to practice different types of writing.


We hope that you found this post helpful and informative. We always welcome your feedback and comments, so please do get in touch if you have any questions or would like some help.


We are experts in 8+ preparation and offer a number of tools and services to help your child succeed including practice papers, bespoke 8+ coursesmock exams and one-on-one tuition.


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