COVID has changed the way we do lots of things, from business meetings to school lessons and beyond. In some cases, it has also changed the way entrance exams are managed, sometimes altering a process decades in the making. Many schools are opting, temporarily in most cases, to use online tests such as ISEB, CEM and CAT4 in place of their traditional written papers.
This isn't always overly publicised and it's important to make sure you are revising the right subjects for your target schools. Tutors may not be aware, and Admissions Policies have not been unanimously updated.
Here's our guide to making sure you're covering the right bases:
1. Don't rely on us
We work really hard to keep our information up to date, covering more than 1,000 schools across the UK, and we're super proud of the guidance we are able to provide. However, no learning or education business can be 100% up to date 100% of the time (even if they claim they are). Go straight to the horse's mouth and make sure you are completely clear on what you need to prepare. You can always come back to us when you know what you're looking for.
2. Start with the Admissions Policy
Every school, grammar and independent, has an Admissions Policy. These policies include a wide range of useful information, from catchment areas to religious affiliations, scholarship opportunities and more. The policy will always include either direct information or a link to guidance around the entrance tests for that school. It's good to start here as it will usually have much more information than the Admissions Page itself.
Find your school's policy (they often have a section called "Policies" on their website) and then, crucially, look for updates, date stamps or any suggestion that this has been updated for 2021. If it isn't overtly clear that this covers entrance during COVID, move on.
3. Check the Admissions page
Read the Admissions Page thoroughly. Again, we are looking for updates and announcements to do with 2021 or COVID. If the information feels as though it is timeless, do not rely on it. We've read thousands of Admissions pages and we can assure you they are not always kept up to date.
4. If in doubt, ask.
If you get through the above and still haven't found any direct references to COVID or 2021 entrance tests, assume you have not got the right information. Calling can be useful, but we would recommend that whatever information you find, you get it in writing. Entrance exams are complex machines with lots of moving parts, it's important to make sure you haven't misinterpreted any of the details.
5. Compare your findings
Secondary school entrance exam preparation is often a very private time, with other parents often less-than-willing to share their winning formulas. However, comparing notes with other parents can be mutually beneficial and help to iron out any misunderstandings. If you have a close friend with similar applications, this could be a hugely valuable activity.