Advice

Though every examination is specific and requirements vary depending on year group and school, I have set out on this page some general advice on interviews and entrance examinations.  For more specific information on individual schools, please contact me directly for further details and help.

Entrance Exam Top Tips

  • It's what you haven't seen that counts.  Most of my students shudder whenever the topic of an 'Unseen Reading', aka a comprehension or essay based one or more unfamiliar passages, comes up.  This is, however, the single most common way in which English is assessed at all levels.  From multiple choice comprehensions at the 11+ to the ELAT, Unseens will form the basis of English assessment in pretty much any entrance exam.  And because you can never know what might come up, instead you're going to have to think of strategies to cope with it.  Which leads us to...
     

  • Know what to look for.  Make some lists before the test with categories of literary features in them, e.g. kinds of narrator, or sound-based literary techniques like alliteration and what these features often do.  By making classes of features to look out for, it will become much easier to dissect the passage in the test.  Poetry and prose are like puzzles - you just have to know how to take them apart.

Interview Top Tips

  • Make sure you know why you want to go to the school to which you have applied.  An interviewer wants to find out one thing from you: what you can offer the school.  In turn, make sure that you have researched what the school can offer you.
     

  • Don't be afraid to sell yourself!  It might seem horrible to highlight all of your best qualities, but those are exactly the qualities which an interviewer is looking for.
     

  • Again, something which you will have heard before: practice.  Interviews can be an intimidating experience no matter what level of education you are at, but experience will help you keep calm and perform at your best.  Getting strangers to perform mock interviews with you can be helpful, but so can asking family members and friends to fire questions at you!  Surprisingly, most people actually find answering people they know better to be more stressful, so it can really be of use.
     

  • Know thyself.  If your best quality isn't your organisation, or your sporting prowess, there's no need to pretend that it is.  But try to think of some qualities which you have to a better level than other people, things which would allow your interviewer to pick you out from the crowd.
     

  • Read up on current affairs.  For school interviews, a popular question is to ask you what you have seen in the news recently.  A school wants to know that their prospective students aren't just academically capable, they are also engaged in the world around them.  Try reading a news source - anything from the BBC to The Economist - in the weeks leading up to your interview, which will allow you to engage your interviewer in an interesting and informed conversation.

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