13+ Common Entrance Exam Preparation with Past Papers, Questions, and Answers

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What is the 13+ Exam?

What is the 13-plus exam? The 13+ Exam or the 13 plus Common Entrance Exam is an exam that tests a candidate’s suitability for admission to UK schools. 13+ Preparation guidance with Past Papers, Questions, and Answers is the best way to prepare for the 13+ Exam. There are core subjects as well as additional subjects tested within the exam. Core subjects are

  • English
  • Science
  • Maths

Each of these subjects has a test that typically lasts for an hour.

In addition, 13 plus exams for grammar school may conduct tests for subjects like

  • French
  • Geography 
  • History 
  • Religious Studies
  • Latin 
  • Classical Greek
  • German
  • Spanish 
  • Mandarin Chinese

Therefore it is important for you to check with the schools to which you seek admission for your child/ward as to the additional subjects and their 13-plus exam syllabus.

13+ Preparation Syllabus for the Exam

13+ English:


Literary Prose

Examiners give candidates a passage of literary prose from a play, a novel, biography, or travel writing. Questions follow to test understanding and ability to analyze and evaluate the piece given. There is no standard pattern for the selection of the pieces, so quality fiction may be provided.

Skills to be tested at the appropriate level include the following:

  • basic understanding and vocabulary
  • use of text to illustrate answers
  • drawing of inferences
  • evaluation of style, language, and purpose
  • delivery of opinions/judgments/arguments based on given material
  • awareness of how grammar, syntax, and punctuation affect the meaning
  • capacity to make comparisons and evaluate contrasts


Examiners give candidates a piece of unseen poetry – an entire poem or an extract. Questions follow, making it a literary comprehension test. Candidates must show awareness of how language is used and must buttress their opinions by referring to the text. Questions are designed to test candidates’ understanding of literary effects. This requires knowledge of literary devices such as simile, metaphor, personification, symbolism, irony, alliteration, etc.

13+ Creative Writing

Candidates must answer two questions from a range of options. In some cases, the candidate must show an ability to: argue, persuade, explain, advise or inform. In other cases, the candidate will be given the opportunity to expand on ideas or concepts. Also, candidates may write on one or more texts studied in class or read independently. Questions are general in nature. They offer candidates the opportunity to deal with moments of drama, transition, contrast, and various other ideas. Texts should range across genres and periods. Candidates should be encouraged and helped to discuss their reading and analyze their ideas closely.

13+ Science


  • Structure and function of living organisms
    • Cells and organization
    • Nutrition and digestion
    • Gas exchange systems
    • Reproduction in plants
    • Health
  • Material cycles and energy
    • Photosynthesis
    • Cellular respiration
  • Interactions and Interdependencies
    • Relationships in an ecosystem
  • Genetics and evolution
    • Variation, classification, and inheritance


  • The particulate nature of matter
  • Atoms, elements, and compounds
  • Pure and impure substances; physical changes
  • Chemical reactions


  • Energy: 
    • Resources 
    • Changes in systems
    • Conservation
  • Motion and forces:
    • Description
    • Force and rotation
    • Force and pressure
    • Density
  • Waves:
    • Sound waves
    • Hearing
    • Light waves
  • Electricity and electromagnetism:
    • Circuits
    • Magnetism
    • Electromagnets
  • Space Physics

Detailed syllabi are available online. Parents should check these to ensure that they prepare their children well.

13+ Maths

  • Number
  • Algebra
  • Ratio and proportion
  • Geometry
  • Statistics and Probability

Detailed 13 plus exam syllabi are available online. You should check the syllabus so that you can prepare your child thoroughly and in the right ways.

General 13+ Preparation for Exam

There are several general steps to be taken to prepare the child for the 13-plus exam. Some of them are:

  • Begin at least two years earlier: It helps to begin 13+ preparation at least two years earlier than the exam. This helps prepare the child thoroughly.
  • Prepare and use a timetable: Making a timetable ensures that the child gets good exposure to all the necessary subjects, as well as time off for rest and recreation.
  • Listen to your child: Children give valuable feedback. In some cases, they may express an inability to understand a topic or concept by throwing a tantrum. Probe gently to find out why your child rebels at studying a particular subject or topic and tackle the underlying cause.
  • If possible, turn the study into play: There are plenty of resources available online and offline to help the child learn through games and other activities. Look for such resources and help make the process of 13+ preparation interesting and perhaps even exciting for your child!

Using 13+ Preparation Past Papers, Questions, and Answers

13 plus past papers, sample papers, and solved papers (questions and answers) are an excellent means to prepare your child for the 13+ exam.

Do not use them as study material though. Instead, conduct mock tests and then compare your child’s answers with the solved papers. Your child will learn where it erred. In most cases, your child will automatically learn the correct answers.

The best way to use these resources is as follows:

  • Treat the papers as actual 13 plus exam papers: The best way to use these resources is to have your child actually answer them as if they were real exam papers.
  • Start with a mock test: This may seem counterintuitive but it helps to throw your child into the deep end, as it were. Have your child appear for a mock test in each subject using past papers or sample papers. This will tell you several things:
    • Subjects/topics that your child knows well
    • Subjects/topics that he or she knows but does not excel in
    • Subjects/topics where the child needs extensive input
  • Prepare your child, then test them using these past papers: Once you have established your child’s strengths and weaknesses, prepare them subject-wise. Then conduct mock tests to help gauge their grasp of the subjects or topics in question.
  • Set dates and times for the 13+ mock tests. Let your child know
  • In an advance that a mock test will be held for a particular subject and they need to prepare for that test. Then let them schedule 13+ preparation times. This helps them become more responsible about tackling the actual exam.
  • Let your child’s friends know that they will be unavailable during the mock tests. The last thing your child needs while answering a mock test is to have friends tempting them with calls to play. 
  • Don’t let complacency set in. Your child might do extremely well in a certain paper. The tendency at that point will be to keep that subject aside and concentrate on the ones in which your child hasn’t done well. While it is important to prepare your child in subjects in which they are weak, it is equally important not to let them get complacent. Therefore, you need to intermittently test them again in subjects in which they have done well.
  • Set up a system of random rewards. Research has shown that rewards are important but children focus better when the rewards are not always commensurate with results. Thus, if a child is occasionally given a bigger reward for a smaller achievement and a smaller reward for a bigger achievement, it keeps the child motivated to study.


The 13+ Exam is an important exam in a student’s life. It tests-core subjects, i.e. English, Maths, and Science, as well as other subjects such as other languages, geography, etc., depending on the school that conducts the test.

It is important to start preparing your child a few years in advance keeping in mind the 13-plus exam dates. This helps the child prepare at a pace that is comfortable, yet doesn’t create a sense of complacency. It is important to prepare a timetable in advance, yet keep the timetable flexible enough to accommodate factors such as your child picking up a subject quicker than expected or lagging in a subject you did not anticipate.

Pay attention to your child’s feedback. This may be verbal or non-verbal. If a child is eager to practice a certain subject it may mean that they are already quite adept at it. Therefore, you may do well to reduce the time allotted for that subject. On the other hand, if a child is reluctant to tackle a particular subject, it may be a sign that they haven’t grasped the subject well enough. Check if more practice will solve the problem or if the child needs coaching in that subject.

Test the child at intervals and reward them randomly. The child will learn that a reward will come but that the value of the reward will not always be the same as the level of achievement. While this seems contradictory, it actually motivates the child to study more.

So go ahead and use the 13+ preparation past papers, sample papers, and solved papers wisely to help your child prepare for the 13+ exam.

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