Year 10-11

The national curriculum in the UK is constructed in five key stages. Key Stage 4 covers Years 10, and 11 for pupils aged 14 – 16. During Key Stage 4, pupils work towards national qualifications – GCSEs.

There are a wide range of GCSE subjects that can be divided into core subjects and foundation subjects. Core subjects are:



Science (Physics, Chemistry, Biology)

Foundation subjects are:


Physical education


Schools must also offer subjects on Arts (Art and Design, Music, Drama, etc.), Design and Technology (DT, Food Preparation and Nutrition, etc.), Humanities (History, Geography, etc.), Modern Foreign Languages, Religious Studies and sex education. Students must choose GCSE subjects according to their school requirements. Schools can choose which exam boards (i.e., AQA, OIC, Edexcel, CIE, etc.) to use for GCSE courses. Transferring from one school to another for GCSE studies, therefore, is hardly acceptable to a majority of schools.   

There is a growing tendency for many independent schools to require pupils to start their GCSE studies in Year 9; and these schools do not admit prospective students into their programme in Year 10.

Since the introduction of the new grading scheme, GCSE results have been playing a more important role in university admission process. Students’ GCSE results are a vital part of their academic journey, especially in their entrance to Sixth Forms and universities.

One Year Pre A Level Course

Some independent schools offer a one-year GCSE course or Pre-A-Level course that is tailored for overseas students who are transitioning to A-Level studies in the UK. Pre-A-Level course usually focuses on some of the GCSE core subjects in order to give pupils a good foundation to cope with rigorous Sixth Form study.


The 16+ examination is used by Senior Schools as part of their admission process as the last entry point into a secondary school in the UK. Assessment dates are usually set in October or November for pupils who are in Year 11. Candidates who pass the written exams and an interview will receive an offer to embark on their A-Level programme or IB studies.

Among requirements to all entry points, the entrance examination at 16+ is the most difficult one as it covers a variety of subjects. Candidates are usually asked to sit their assessment based on their chosen subjects for A-Level studies. International applicants will need to take an additional English test. On top of this, achieving good results in GCSEs is the final requirement that many top-tier independent schools set out for candidates to fulfil in order to secure an offer.

How can we help you?

We have an in-depth knowledge of the intricacies of examination and requirements set by top-ranking independent schools for entrance at 16+. Our specialist tutors can tailor specific learning plans and courses to match your academic goals. Pupils receive support from our professional tutors through all aspects of their application process, such as writing personal statements, preparing for written exams and practising for interviews. We have a proven track record of success in assisting students to gain entrance to a 16+ place at some of the most prestigious senior schools in England, such as St Paul’s School, Westminster School, Harrow School, Winchester College, Tonbridge School, Charterhouse School, Radley College, Rugby School, Shrewsbury School, Oundle School and Wellington College.

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