Entrance exams will vary from school to school. Some day and boarding schools administer their own entrance exams, while others will use a common entrance test used by other schools. These exams are a more rigorous feature of the academically selective private schools. Schools can set their own pass score for these exams, and it would be typical for boarding schools ranking higher in the UK to require a higher pass mark than that of others. As part of the admission process many private schools will ask prospective day and boarding students to sit competitive entrance exams.
These exams will cover a variety of subjects, including core subjects such as English and Maths as minimum. If a student is applying to start at GSCE or A-Level entry stage, then they are likely to be tested on the subjects they wish to apply for. While this can be a very stressful experience for both prospective students and their parents it is always worth checking with the school first what they may be assessed on, this allows the student to prepare in advance. There are a variety of reason that these exams exist; a key reason is to ensure that the student would be able to cope with the rigorous academic atmosphere of the school. It would be unfair to admit a potential student into an environment where they would be unable to cope with the required level and pressure of education.
However, this is not the end of the story. Most private schools will have a broader admission process than just academic exam results alone. A pupil who has the potential to be a fine artist, a musical superstar or a first-rate sportsperson can make a very important contribution to the school community through their abilities. A high percentage of these schools will welcome the value of having a wide range of talents among their students.