Admissions Testing

GL Assessment has over 35 years’ experience in admissions testing, providing admissions assessments to grammar schools in England and Northern Ireland, entrance assessments for independent schools, and fair banding assessments for schools looking to group pupils by ability and/or attainment.

For schools, local authorities or consortia of schools that are interested in developing admissions tests, we offer a range of options which can be tailored to meet your specific requirements.

Admissions tests

The questions in our admissions tests cover five core areas: Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning and Spatial Reasoning (measures of developed ability) and English and Maths (measures of subject attainment).

Reasoning tests reveal overall ability and potential, while Mathematics and English tests provide a reliable indication of current achievement. Therefore, a student who is not currently achieving their potential can still demonstrate their true ability through his/her scores from the reasoning questions.

1. Verbal Reasoning (VR) tests

VR tests mainly involve reasoning with words, and typically include a variety of question types that involve the production of, use of, and relationships between, words. Some VR tests also involve the manipulation of letters and numbers; these question types use letters and numbers as symbols to predict, for example, a sequence or relationship. VR questions are particularly good for identifying students whose strengths lie in the subject areas of English, History, Languages and the Arts.

2. Non-Verbal Reasoning (NVR) tests

NVR questions measure reasoning processes that are important in a wide range of school subjects, including maths and science-based subjects. Examples of skills tested include the ability to deal with unfamiliar material, to distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant and to manipulate information at a cognitive level without forgetting crucial details.

3. Spatial Reasoning (SR) tests

SR tests are similar to NVR tests in that they involve reasoning with abstract figures. However, question types are different in that they typically involve the mental creation, retention and manipulation of visual images. SR tests assess the efficiency of the thinking processes that use mental images of shapes and space. SR has been identified as the basis for success in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects and careers.

4. Mathematics and English tests

The mathematics tests developed by GL Assessment assess mathematics in line with the new National Curriculum and cover a comprehensive range of curriculum areas taught in schools up to the start of Year 6. The areas assessed typically include aspects of number, measurement, geometry and statistics.

Similarly, our English tests assess English in line with the new curriculum and typically cover reading comprehension of fiction/non-fiction texts and poetry, together with short exercises in spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Further information

If you would like to discuss your admissions requirements or have any questions relating to the above, please call 020 8996 3371 or email

ISEB Common Pre-Tests

The Common Pre-Tests are taken when a pupil is in Year 6 or Year 7 and are a standardised measure of ability and attainment. We have developed the tests in partnership with the Independent Schools Examinations Board (ISEB). Both online and adaptive, the tests include Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning, English and Mathematics. They are in a multiple-choice format and take about two-and-a-half hours to complete and can be taken together or at separate times either in the candidate's own school or at the senior school for which he or she is entered.

Other key features of the tests are:

  • Candidates are registered by the senior school (or schools) for which he or she is entered
  • Results are available to all senior schools which register candidates, so a child need only sit the test once for a range of senior schools
  • Full technical support is given to schools which use the tests
  • The tests are unique to ISEB and are standardised for the independent sector

The Common Pre-Tests are designed to give senior independent schools information about pupils' attainment and potential, prior to them taking Common Entrance in Year 8.


  • Marking and the publication of results are both done electronically
  • Each candidate has a Standard Age Score (SAS) which is based on the number of questions answered correctly; the score is adjusted for age and placed on a scale which makes a comparison with a standardisation sample taken from the independent schools sector; the average is 100
  • Reports give individual stanine, percentile rank and group rank scores, together with mean SASs


Visit the ISEB website to buy online. For more information, call 01425 470555 or email

We have been particularly delighted with the flexibility and ease of arrangements of taking the tests
Caroline Jordan, Headmistress, Headington School

11+ Research; support for children with vision impairment

As part on an ongoing project involving educational psychologists and qualified teachers of pupils with vision impairment, RNIB and GL Assessment have developed guidelines on the production and administration of 11+ tests for children with vision impairment.

The User Guidelines outline ways in which the 11+ tests should be modified and presented in different formats and how to decide which format to use with individual pupils.

Modified 11+ papers are not always appropriate for children with vision impairment, depending on the subject of the paper and the severity of the impairment. In the Guidelines for Educational Psychologists, RNIB have put forward suggestions about alternative methods for testing these pupils. 

Finally, RNIB, in collaboration with GL Assessment, has commissioned a case study from Kent County Council that demonstrates how a fair and inclusive assessment system for children with vision impairment operates alongside the mainstream assessment process. The Kent County Council Case Study also includes a series of case studies showing how the Special Access arrangements have been applied to individual pupils, along with the supporting documentation used by Kent to support the process (Appendices 2A,2B and 2C).

Cognitive Abilities Test

Identify a pupil's developed abilities and likely academic potential

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