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Top London Private Schools: How Easy Is It for Overseas Students to Be Selected?

Top London Private Schools: How Easy Is It for Overseas Students to Be Selected?

If you’re moving to London and want to secure your child a place at one of the London’s top private schools, you’ll be pleased to hear that overseas students are welcomed with open arms: research conducted by the International School Community shows that one in five students – around 44,000 in total – in UK-based private schools come from overseas.

Before your child can follow in their footsteps, there’s a key defining factor of these independent institutions that will dictate whether they’re offered a place or not: they’re selective based on academic performance. So, what are the chances of your child meeting the standards of a leading private school in London if they have been educated overseas?

With over 450 private schools in London, the admission criteria and procedures can vary, so check specific entry requirements with schools you are interested in. Here’s a general overview of the typical admissions procedure once the registration and application processes are completed.

Admission tests

To ensure they only accept high-performing pupils and maintain their exemplary academic standards, most private schools in London require prospective pupils to take admission tests. Most schools examine in a similar way – testing English, maths, and verbal or, sometimes, non-verbal reasoning. However, the specific admissions tests will vary depending on the school and its curriculum.

To give your child the best chance of passing, request practice tests in advance to familiarise them with the topics and style of questions. It might also be prudent to hire a specialist tutor to help your child prepare – especially if English is not their first language.

Entry at 6th form level – ages 16-18 – is probably the most challenging, and will require a lot of discussion with the school you are applying for will probably depend on a combination of GCSE equivalent results in your country of origin, a school report, and an interview.

English as a second language

Overseas applicants are often required to provide evidence of their level of English – such as an IELTS test – to prove they are proficient enough to understand the content of lessons and can communicate with teachers and their peers.


By conducting selection interviews, private schools can assess whether the applicant’s personality, academic ability, and interests align with the school’s values and ethos. Most schools will be happy to conduct Skype interviews for overseas applicants.


Most private schools require written references for students from previous teachers or tutors. This historic information helps the school understand the applicant’s academic potential and provides insights into their personality, behaviour, and learning style – helping to determine if they’re a good fit for their community.

School reports/transcripts

School reports and transcripts provide an overview of the applicant’s academic achievements, grades, and progress over time. This helps the school understand their strengths, weaknesses, and potential for success.

Having reviewed them, the school admissions team can determine if the student’s previous education aligns with their unique curriculum – which could be particularly relevant for overseas students.

If their application is successful, school reports and transcripts also help to place the student in the appropriate grade level or classes based on their previous academic performance. They also assist in identifying any additional support or special academic needs the student may require.

Now you know how to navigate the typical private school assessment process from an overseas perspective, your child is a step closer to securing a place at a top private school in London.


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