Common Entrance Exams

Common Entrance Exams are selective examinations for grammar and some independent schools. Over half the students who go at Oxford or Cambridge University went to a private or grammar school so these exams are crucial to improving your child’s potential academic opportunities.

The exam boards that provide these exams are CEM and GL, however some independent schools create their own entrance exams. These exams do differ depending on the exam board and school, so it is important to check which board the school you’re applying to is using. Generally, they all test your child’s aptitude with Maths, English, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning as explained further below.

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What your child should know


  • Recognising different types of texts
  • Reading strategies
  • Answering questions by selecting information from a text
  • Understanding words in context
  • Synonyms and working out the meaning of phrases
  • Identifying parts of speech
  • Grammar
  • Literary techniques
  • Author’s purpose and choices
  • Deduction and reasoning
  • Using information from the text
  • Prediction
  • Continuation
  • Evaluation
  • Spelling introduction and commonly misspelt words
  • Homophones
  • Doubling consonants
  • Singulars and plurals
  • Silent letters
  • Suffixes and prefixes
  • Commas, colons and semicolons
  • Apostrophes, brackets and other  punctuation
  • Sentences and paragraphs
  • Subjects, objects and pronouns
  • Nouns and the definite article
  • Verbs and verb tense
  • Adjectives and adverbs
  • Prepositions
  • Conjunctions and connectives
  • Clauses
  • Diminutives
  • Direct and reported speech
  • Common mistakes and how to avoid  them