City Of London School For Boys: Admissions & Entrance Exam Advice (10+ & 11+)

Photo of City of London School.

Photo of City of London School.

City of London School For Boys has its first entry point in Year 6, with children taking a 10+ entrance exam and interview in Year 5. The next entry point is in Year 7.

In this informative guide, I’ll be sharing tips on how to maximise your child’s chances of getting in.

The entry processes and exams at 10+ and 11+ are very similar, so the advice we give will be applicable for both.

*Please note that the information below was correct at the time of publication. We always recommend that parents contact the school directly for admissions information.

The 10+ Admissions Process

Here are some things to consider:

● The deadline for applications is in November of Year 5.

● English, Maths and Verbal Reasoning exams are held in early January.

● High-performing candidates are called for an interview in late January.

The 11+ Admissions Process

● The deadline for applications is in November of Year 6. However, bursary deadlines are slightly earlier.

● Bursary applicants take a computerised pre-test in late November.

● English, Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning exams are held in mid January.

● High-performing candidates are called for an interview in mid February.

For both levels, you should keep in mind that a reference from the current school is needed.


City of London School offers scholarships for academic, musical and sporting ability at both 10+ and 11+ entry points. The amount of money offered, however, is small. The awards are offered mainly as a badge of achievement and potential, and to make sure the most outstanding applicants choose them, rather than another school. However, music scholars receive free instrumental tuition. This can add up to a good amount of money across the student’s entire school career.

● Academic scholarships are based on performance in the ordinary entrance exam and interview.


● Music scholarships are based on an audition.

● Sports scholarships are assessed through trial sessions.

The Entrance Exams

Both the 10+ and 11+ exams are similar, and so we’ll be talking about them together.

The 10+ exam is very similar to many independent schools’ 11+ exams.

The 11+ exam sits between an orthodox 11+ and 13+. The comprehension exams are multiple-choice, so they slightly differ from the independent school norm.

The City Boys’ English Exams

Reading Comprehension

The reading comprehension is a challenging, multi-choice paper which is more complex than those of most schools. The passage is generally quite long, and contains lengthy paragraphs.

As a tutor, I recommend reading the text carefully and dedicate time to reading the questions carefully too. Too often, students focus so much on the text that they lose marks by misreading questions.

Another point to consider is that each question is worth the same amount of points - so do not spend time on a question you do not understand or can’t answer because you might be running out of time and might miss other questions.

Creative Writing

Both papers typically ask you to continue the story in the comprehension passage. This kind of task requires a particular thought process, which it is worth your child practising in their writing.

Ask your child to consider the following:

● Who are the main characters in your story?

  • What are their personality traits?

  • What is the style and mood of the passage?

  • What kind of vocabulary would suit the story or composition?

Your child’s writing should make sense as a continuation of the text and should seem as if it were written by the author.

It’s important to ask: which direction was the plot taking at the point where the passage ended? Don’t continue in a way that does not fit with the tone of the story, or make it accidentally comical. For example, an alien landing in a Dickens novel would not be a natural progression of the story.

Exam Technique

It’s always important to read the rubric on an exam paper carefully, because it gives information about how the task will be marked. For example:

● “You should spend around 30 minutes on this section.”

Timing is everything. It’s wise to spend 5 minutes planning, and 5 minutes reviewing, so that leaves about 20 minutes writing time. Without a good plan, a student will have to stop and think about their plot after each paragraph or even sentence. However, a plan will allow the student to keep writing. The best plans are simple plans. Remember, a good exam story will only have one significant plot event so there’s no need to squeeze tons of dramatic events into one story.

● “You do not have to finish the story: quality over quantity is preferred.”

Of course, a finished story will score better. However, the examiners want to find the best writers – children who can use English as a tool to write compelling stories and characters. The markers are looking to reward descriptive writing with intelligent vocabulary, which shows insight about characters’ personalities, and is well punctuated.

● “Write using accurate sentences, spelling and punctuation.”

This is important. However, it’s worth mentioning that a completely flawless piece of writing that does not capture the marker will not score highly. A certain amount of risk taking when it comes to writing the story can be very beneficial. The most important thing is that any mistakes don’t make the story hard to read. This is why punctuation is often more important than spelling.

● “Develop a realistic, well-paced story.”

Make sure that the story naturally continues the original text.

● “Write engagingly to interest the reader.”

The City Boys’ Maths Exams

The 10+ Maths Paper

The exam is likely to be 45 minutes long, and the level is equivalent to standard 11+ papers. It’s important to have knowledge of primary school maths curriculum, focussing on core skills such as (paper calculation methods, fractions, averages, simple probability, and more.

The 11+ Maths Paper

The 11+ exam is difficult, compared to most other maths papers at this level. It requires children to apply their knowledge logically and creatively, in contexts which may be unfamiliar. The first half of the paper is fairly standard, but then it becomes increasingly more challenging.

Verbal Reasoning & Non-Verbal Reasoning

Non-Verbal Reasoning is only set for the 11+ exam and not the 10+.

The Interview

The school’s website says that “no specific preparation is required or expected for the interview”. This suggests that City of London School For Boys recognises that some preparation can be valuable for children.

If children receive no help before an interview, confident talkers flourish, and others don’t. The worst thing to do, however, is to prepare answers for you child, such as some adults would do before a job interview. An adult might get away with it, but 10 and 11-year-old children will definitely give themselves away.

Here are a few things you can do before the interview:

● A good interview is a conversation. Students should avoid giving one-word answers and should aim to expand and extend their thoughts where possible.

● Make sure you son does not fiddle needlessly and sits with both feet on the floor and hands away from sight.

● A very popular 11+ (and 10+) interview question is about a child’s recent reading. Don’t make your child read complex books before the interview. Just encourage them to talk about anything they have just recently read, and create comparisons with other books, films, or even pieces of music they have heard. This will be much more impressive.

● If they are given a maths question or a short text to talk about in the interview, this should be nothing to worry about. They passed the exam, so they have already demonstrated that they are intelligent enough. Remind your child to remain calm and answer questions confidently.

I hope this guide has helped you and has provided some clarification regarding the admissions process.