Nearly every boarding school in the UK accepts a number of students into Year 12 each September. To explain, this is the start of the two year A Level or IB course which precedes entry to university. Students often move from abroad for these final two years or ‘upgrade’ within the UK to a more academic school.
Timing is essential as all schools will carry out the assessments at the start of UK Year 11, so while a student is still studying their GCSEs or equivalent and almost a full year in advance of the child joining the school.
The format of the assessments varies from school to school but will usually take the form of written assessments and interviews in the subjects chosen for A Level as well as a general interview exploring the applicant’s interests and personality. The assessments are rigorous and often will be based on the entire GCSE curriculum, despite the student only being just over halfway through their GCSE course.
Schools are generally looking for potential as much as performance in the exams. But how do they assess this? There are a number of other criteria that schools will look at:
Given that all these must be submitted at the start of Year 11, it is apparent that they are effectively based on the child’s attitude and performance in Year 10. Remember, schools are not just looking for high scores in the assessment, they are looking for students who will contribute in other ways to their school and who can demonstrate genuine curiosity for their subjects and whom they will enjoy teaching for 2 years.
A Year 12 application to a top ranked boarding school can be thought of as a mini-Oxbridge application which requires early planning and proactive willingness to differentiate yourself from other applicants.
By Christmas of Year 10, a student with aspirations of a highly selective boarding school for Year 12, should have a good idea of their likely A Level subjects and be aiming to have a solid grounding of the whole GCSE syllabus by the time they sit assessments around November of Year 11.
Just like an Oxbridge applicant, students can benefit from subject specialists, not just to learn the curriculum, but to explore the subjects beyond the classroom, get them accustomed to answering academic questions orally, advise on extra reading and familiarise them with the expectations of A Levels.
For students who are now in their second term of Year 10 or equivalent and who have aspirations to move to a top school for A Levels in 2022, we strongly recommend you start the process now! This would typically be students who were aged 14 on the 1st September 2020, though there may be some flexibility for students who had already turned 15.
BE Education is holding a special sixth form workshop on the 7th of December, hosted by UK director Raff Flackett, to help students. You will learn:
Entry to Year 12 is highly competitive and requires expert advice. We have enjoyed considerable success over the years, including supporting one of only 2 boys to be admitted to Eton College for 6th form this year. If you think that your child would benefit from a more academic environment to maximise their prospects of going to a top university, please scan the QR code on the poster and sign up to our event on the 7th of February.