Places at St Paul’s are highly sought after and the entrance procedure will therefore always be competitive. The school’s purpose is to provide an education suited to girls of outstanding intellectual potential and in selecting candidates, we take great care to gather as much information as we can on which to base a sound judgement. We want girls to be happy and thrive once they arrive here.
It is also important for us to be able to identify over prepared candidates who may perform well in our assessments but who are unable to sustain the required pace when they join the school.
Entrance Examination Guidance
The sample papers available below are published to provide examples of possible examination material. However, they are intended as guidance only and it should be noted that the format of the papers may change year on year. For 2021 entry each exam paper will be 40 minutes long.
The English paper involves the close reading of a passage of literary prose. Candidates are asked to answer up to ten questions on the passage. Some will involve the extraction of information, some will ask for comment on the meaning and effect of individual words and phrases. Although there are no specific marks for technical accuracy, we are always keen to see correct spelling and punctuation. We are particularly interested in signs of genuine enjoyment and engagement, together with careful inference and sensitivity to linguistic effects. Some of the questions will be extended imaginative writing tasks based on the passage. There is no separate creative writing section. Though we like to see evidence of a wide vocabulary, there is no need to learn and use unusual or obscure words.
The mathematics paper comprises of a mixture of questions which are designed to identify potential. The paper has three sections. The first section will feature questions that are fairly straight-forward ‘sums’, designed to establish fundamental arithmetic concepts are in place. The second section will cover questions which are more problem-solving in style and the third section may have multi-part questions; these questions will be based on material the girls may never have seen before.
The questions will be based upon a range of topics all of which are part of the National Curriculum up to KS2. We are not just testing techniques, but also looking for insight.
It is very important for candidates to show their working out. A wrong answer cannot be given any credit if it is not supported by working. The questions are designed to be interesting and sometimes amusing, and we hope the girls find sitting the paper an enjoyable experience.
The comprehension paper is based around a theme and is designed to test comprehension in its broadest sense. This includes the skills of deduction, inference, extraction and organisation of information as well as evaluation, comparison, identification of patterns and links, and logic. No prior knowledge is required although the KS2 scientific enquiry skills may be needed in the evaluation of material and presentation of data.
We are looking for ability to respond to a range of materials, which could be visual, numerical or written, and through comprehension, be able to draw pertinent conclusions about them. Above all, we are looking for girls with the potential to react perceptively to a range of stimuli. Many candidates enjoy this unusual paper very much.
The interview stage is an important part of our selection process enabling us to identify those applicants who will thrive at St Paul’s.
Our entrance process, both examinations and interview, is designed to identify natural ability and potential. The interview will last approximately 15-20 minutes and will be conducted by one member of senior staff. Candidates will be provided with stimulus material to generate a conversation and we are looking for evidence of creativity, engagement and the capacity for independent thought. It will not be helpful for candidates to have pre-learnt answers or have prepared specific topics. The interview is intended to challenge and stimulate applicants, rather than to encourage simple recall of facts.
Our final decisions will be based on both performance in the entrance examinations as well as the interview.