St Paul's School

Admissions Guide

How to get into St Paul’s School (Boys’)

Are you looking into St Paul’s School for the 11 plus? Find out everything you need to know about the admissions process, and how to help your son succeed.

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Introduction to St Paul’s School

St Paul’s School is a private day and boarding school for boys on the banks of the River Thames in Barnes, London. St Paul’s has been a centre of academic excellence for over 500 years.

Boys who apply at 11 plus will be entering St Paul’s Juniors (previously Colet Court), the lower school that teaches boys from Years 3-8. They will then transfer to the St Paul’s School where they will remain from Years 9-13. The main entry points at St Paul’s are 7+, 8+, 11+, 13+ and 16+. 54 boys are accepted in Year 3, with an additional 18 going to external applicants in Year 4. There are 36 places on offer for 11+, while their larges entry point is 13+, where they accept around 70 boys. 20 places are available at 16+. St Paul’s offer full boarding, weekly boarding and, space permitting, flexi-boarding. Though only around 20-30 boys board, it is still a vital part of life at St Paul’s. Boarding is not available to boys below Year 9.

St Paul’s Juniors aims to create a friendly caring community in which students can feel happy and confident, while their talents and interests are developed, challenged and celebrated. St Paul’s is built around an ambition to provide a rounded education delivered by expert high-quality teaching that encourages pupils to think creatively and critically. St Paul’s is highly competitive which is no surprise considering its outstanding results when it comes to higher education and university admissions. In 2022, 99% of GCSEs achieved at Grade 9, 8 or 7 (A*-A), while 76% achieved at Grade 9. In the same year, 96% of A Levels and Pre-U were achieved at A* or A (or equivalent). Over the last 5 years, an average of 31% have gone on to study at Oxbridge.


£7,910 per term for Year 3-8 (St Paul’s Juniors). £9,895 per term for Year 9-13 and £14,891 per term for boarders. The school fees are inclusive of compulsory school lunches. A deposit of £3,200 is required upon acceptance of a place. This will be refunded in full when your son leaves St Paul’s.

11 plus open days at St Paul’s

St Pauls offer Open Days for prospective students and parents in the Summer and Autumn the year before they intend to join. The open days for entry in 2024 are all fully booked, however, more will be released in September. You can view a virtual tour on the school website. The annual Open Morning provides an opportunity for parents and boys to meet the High Master, staff and current pupils, tour the school and get a flavour of daily life at St Paul’s Juniors. St Paul’s also offer a number of small group visits throughout the year. These include a tour of St Paul’s Juniors and St Paul’s School on a typical day.

Before registering your son for admission, we recommend that you and your son attend a St Paul’s Open Event. This will give your son a sense of what life is like attending St Paul’s, the facilities it offers, and a chance to meet members of staff, the Head and current pupils. We have found boys who attend Open Events are better prepared in interviews and more confident upon entering in September.

children studying for the 11+ exam

The 11 Plus admissions process at St Paul’s

Applications for 2024 entry to St Paul’s is currently open. The deadline to submit your application for 11 plus is November 6th 2023. The registration must be completed online. Candidates must pay a non-refundable exam fee when registration of £75. If they are successful and receive an offer, upon acceptance they must pay a formal registration fee of £150.

At 11 plus, St Paul’s accept around 36 boys into the Junior School. Around 70 additional places will go to boys coming up from Upper Second Year. There are usually around 70 available places for 13 plus entry and approximately 20 available for 16 plus entry. St Paul’s is extremely competitive as it is oversubscribed. Odds of securing a place at 11 plus can vary from around 1 in 20 to as high as 1 in 30 in years with a larger cohort. As it is a highly academic environment, St Paul’s do not give preferential consideration to siblings or family of existing or previous students.  

Part A: St Paul’s Pre-Test

All applicants to St Paul’s will be invited to sit the ISEB Common Pre-Test in early December. The 2024 cohort will sit the ISEB on the 4th of December 2023. These tests take place online and can be sat at the boy’s current school or at St Paul’s Juniors. Success here is key, as if boys do not excel on the Pre-Test, they will not be invited to the written exam or the interview.

Taking about two and a half hours to complete, the ISEB Pre Test covers the following topics:

  • Verbal reasoning: covering areas such as common words, antonyms, word combinations and letter transfer.
  • Non-verbal reasoning: this topic tests areas including shape analogies and horizontal codes.
  • English: reading comprehension, spelling, punctuation and sentence completion.
  • Mathematics: content for this is in line with the National Curriculum topics taught up to the end of Year 5.

This test for the St Paul’s 11 plus entrance may sound daunting; however, Mentor has years of experience in preparing children for the ISEB which has been used by UK boarding schools for many years. It is very different from the written exams children usually sit and it is very much worth tailoring your efforts towards this specific exam. For example, there is no creative writing element to the exam and all answers are multiple choice. Timing is even more important than usual in an ISEB test and students should work towards a pace which is broadly consistent with picking up 1 mark per minute. This is difficult for any ten year old and requires lots of practice. Exam technique is also particularly important with an ISEB test as unlike with a written exam, the pupil cannot go back at the end to tackle questions they found hard.  They will also have to practice guessing multiple choice answers, whilst eliminating as many wrong answers as possible.

Tailored tutoring could be the key to helping your son stand out – from academic support to exam technique, our tutors can work with your child to provide them with the knowledge and self-confidence to tackle the online test. Find out more about how Mentor can help your son prepare for the Pre Test.

Part B: 11 plus entrance exam at St Paul’s

Those 11 plus candidates who are successful in the ISEB Pre-Test are invited back to St Paul’s to sit written examinations in English and Mathematics in early January. Applicants hoping to join Year 7 in 2024 will sit the written exam on the 9th of January 2024. There are two English paper, both 45 minutes long: a comprehension and analysis paper and a composition paper. In the comprehension paper boys will be given an unseen passage of either prose, poetry or drama. This will include:

  • Straightforward factual questions about the text. This will assess understanding of content and the meanings of words in their contexts. Boys may be asked for synonyms and alternative expressions to test breadth of vocabulary.
  • Questions that require attention to the associations of words and to patterns of sound and meaning. Boys need to describe these, find examples and consider the effects they have on the reader.
  • Possibly, more creative questions where boys will need to use relevant material from the passage to write from the point of view of a character or in a similar style to the author. This will test boys ability to read, comprehend and respond to a given text.

The composition paper will be a creative writing exercise. Boys will be given the opportunity to write either from experience or imagination in one of a range of forms, such as story, description, speech, diary, letter or article. St Paul’s are looking for interesting ideas, expressed using an ambitious and accurate range of vocabulary, punctuation and grammar. The Maths paper is 1 hour long, split into three sections all of equal weight. The paper is challenging, it is in line with the National Curriculum at Key Stage 2. Boys are expected to be working comfortably at National Curriculum Level 5 in number. The ability to handle data and tackle problems involving shape, space and measure will be tested at a standard somewhere between Levels 4 and 5. St Paul’s is looking for boys who exhibit high numerical skills and who have the ability to analyse problems and apply familiar techniques in unfamiliar situations. The sections include:

  • Section A is multiple choice; 15 questions testing boys understanding of number and the number system.
  • Section B is the calculations section, testing their knowledge of mainly core ‘pen and paper’ techniques; there will also be some wordier questions in this section.
  • Section C is designed to be more challenging with slightly longer and harder worded problems, and questions that require an ability to problem solve.

St Paul’s provide a syllabus for the written exam on there website.

If you want an experienced third party to help you stay on track with your preparation visit the Mentor Tutor page which has a range of specialist 11 plus tutors with significant St Paul’s entrance experience.

Part C: 11 plus interview at St Paul’s

Those who are successful in the written exams will be invited back to St Paul’s for an interview. The interview lasts around 20 minutes and will take place in mid-January, two weeks after the examination date. Interviews are one to one with a senior member of staff, boys will also have an opportunity to meet with the Head. It is an important part of the admission process and success at interview is key to get into St Paul’s. As your Son is being interviewed, parents will also have the opportunity to meet with the Head.

St Paul’s interviews will assess independence, intellectual curiosity, and boy’s ability to voice their opinion eloquently and support it with evidence when questioned further. Boys will also be asked to demonstrate their academic ability in interview. Previously boys have been asked mental maths questions, their opinions on current affairs. Boys have been given a passage to read or picture to analyse and asked questions based it, such as the meaning behind the piece, or what the creator’s intent was and whether or not they achieved it.

The interviews will require applicants to talk about themselves; the interviewer will aim to explore candidates interests and ideas. Boys need to be able to articulate firm views on their interests and be able to justify them to an interviewer who may oppose or question them. The interview will also include questions seeking to gauge boy’s abilities in communication, inquisitiveness, reasoning and wider cultural interests. For example, boys have been asked what the last TV show they watched was, or which is their favourite country they have visited. In response to these questions, it is important boys do not simply give one-word answers but try to engage with the interviewer and justify their opinions. Boys must be proud of their opinions and be prepared to justify them to an interview who may challenge them.

Teachers are looking for enthusiastic, confident boys who they will enjoy having at the school, and who will make the most of what the school has to offer. It is important your son can engage and respond during a discussion. To do well at the interview he must be able to clearly articulate himself and answer the question given – rather than meander around a point. At St Paul’s, they prefer not to have boys appear over practised in the interview. If your child’s answers come across as rehearsed or planned, they will be less likely to get offered a place.

The thought of an interview can be quite daunting for some boys who find it harder to express their views. So, every year Mentor runs individual and group sessions to build confidence. Focusing on interview prep and what to expect, we encourage children to develop answers and present their best self.

11 plus scholarships at St Paul’s School

St Paul’s offer a number of Music Scholarships and Exhibitions at 11 plus. Applicants must show outstanding ability in at least one instrument. After the application process, once a candidate has secured and accepted a place for 11 plus entry, suitable boys are invited to apply for a Music Scholarship. Potential candidates must have reached at least Grade 5 on their principal instrument. They will then be invited to audition, this will involve a live performance, sight-reading, responding to aural tests and answering general questions in relation to their music. Each Scholarship is worth £60 per year and free tuition on two instruments. Exhibitions are awarded free tuition on one instrument. Academic scholarships are not awarded at 11 plus at St Paul’s. Around 30 academic scholarships are awarded at 13 plus, going to both pupils from St Paul’s Juniors and external applicants. For boys coming up from St Paul’s Juniors, 13 plus Scholarships are awarded on the basis of their work in Year 7 and 8 and their end of year exams. All Academic Scholarships are honorary and worth £60.

Find a tutor

To guarantee your son the best chance of admission to St Paul’s School, offer him some additional support from one of our tutors. Many of our over 200 tutors are experts in the St Paul’s 11 plus and with bespoke one-to-one tuition, they can help children to achieve success at exams and interviews.

With more than 40 years of experience in tutoring children to gain admission to some of London’s most competitive independent schools, we at Mentor have a wealth of knowledge on how best to prepare your son for entry to St Paul’s.

Over 80% of our tutors are qualified teachers, so they have an in-depth knowledge of their subject, the syllabus and the most effective teaching methods. Many have been heads of department, head teachers or examiners and all come with a wealth of experience and a great track record of success. All have up-to-date DBS certificates and are fully reference-checked. Wherever possible we will match your son with a tutor who has a track record at St Paul’s themselves.

For more information on our tutors’ unique approach to testing children in preparation for exams, contact our team.

More information on St Paul’s

St Paul’s is known for being an academic powerhouse, boasting exceptional exam results and playing tag with Westminster year on year at the top of the league tables. That level of success and status usually goes hand in hand with a “hothouse” reputation – a combination that St Paul’s is not immune to. If your son is not naturally academically gifted, it is simply not the right school for him. Despite the academic pressure that the boy’s face, St Paul’s is also widely known for its being a welcoming and kind community. Once boys are in, they are known to flourish under the wealth of opportunities offered to them. St Paul’s is known for its success and enthusiasm in Sports and, albeit less so, Music. Boys develop and quiet confidence, not to be confused with snobbery, and there is generally a buzzing atmosphere of enthusiasm for learning. St Paul’s current levels of bursary support are just below the average for the independent sector, with only around 5% of students receiving means-tested bursaries. However, St Paul’s is aiming to increase its economic diversity and offer financial assistance to more families who otherwise would not be able to attend the School. Sally-Anne Huang joined as the High Master of St Paul’s School in 2020, previously serving as Head of JAGS for 5 years.

There are over 950 boys at St Paul’s aged 7-18. The 100 minute lunch break, prime position on the banks of the Thames, and extensive on site facilities, St Paul’s are fully equipped to offer a wealth of co-curricular opportunities for boys. Sport is a key component of education at St Paul’s. Boys in the Junior school have the opportunity to try rugby, football, cricket, tennis, cross country, athletics, squash, badminton, tag American football, volleyball, unihoc, handball, basketball, aikido, fives, swimming and water polo, and the list only gets longer in the Senior School. Music is encouraged and celebrated at St Paul’s, where boys can perform in any number of ensembles, orchestras, bands and choirs. They are also able to play in one of the termly concerts and events – many of which take place in the 316 seat Wathen Hall music hall. Drama thrives at St Paul’s, particularly in the new state of the art Samuel Pepys Theatre where boys get a chance to act, direct, and provide lighting and sound production. There is an annual schedule of productions, each aimed at a particular year group, to ensure pupils of all ages get a chance to flourish in leading roles. If they find the time, boys are welcome to any of the wide range of clubs including Chess, Film Making, Lego, Debating, Improv, Natural History, Engineering, Dungeons and Dragons and Yoga.

City of London School with St Paul's Cathedral in the background

Address: St Paul’s School, Lonsdale Rd, London SW13 9JT

Telephone: 020 8748 9162

Email: [email protected]

Website: https://www.stpaulsschool.org.uk/

Local Authority: Richmond-Upon-Thames

School’s Unique Reference Number (URN): 102942

Gender: Boys

Age Range: 7-18

Get in touch

We have many experts on entrance to St Paul’s School here at Mentor and are ready to guide you through the new entrance format during Covid-19 measures. Get in touch to find out more about how we can help your son gain admission to St Paul’s at 11 plus, or for further information on admissions into the top London schools.

Unit 6C Hillgate Place
SW12 9ER

020 8883 2519

[email protected]

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