Pre-Tests, PSB & Scholarship



Some senior schools require prospective pupils to sit a pre-test, usually in Years 6 or 7, either as part of a full prospective cohort on a set day each year, or on an individual ad hoc basis. These pre-tests are designed to assess the suitability of each candidate for the kind of education offered in each senior school. Senior schools are quite clear that it is considered detrimental if candidates are over-tutored for these tests because it could lead to a pupil entering a school at which they later find it difficult to cope. This could have a fundamental effect upon their progress and wellbeing in the teenage years. Thus, preparing pupils for these tests is a careful professional balance. At NCS we believe in making sure our boys are familiar and comfortable with the kinds of assessment present in pre-tests. We ensure that the boys are prepared first and foremost in the sense that they are familiar with the kinds of challenges they will face. As they progress through the School, they practise verbal and non-verbal reasoning tests as well specific past papers as part of their normal English and Mathematics curriculum. As pre-tests approach, preps will be focused more immediately on their demands. Pupils will also have opportunities for practice interviews with senior members of staff.


Prep School Baccalaureate (PSB)


In Years 7 and 8, NCS boys work towards the Prep School Baccalaureate (PSB). The PSB has academic rigour at its core, with final Year 8 exams (in English, Maths, Science, French, History, Geography, RSP, Latin, Coding, Music and optional Greek) set and marked in-house, with standards moderated where necessary by our senior schools and annual meetings with other PSB schools. In Art and DT, the boys work towards a PSB portfolio. The curriculum content embraces the fundamental elements of the National Curriculum and the best parts of alternative curricula like Common Entrance, while providing NCS teachers and pupils with the flexibility to innovate and develop creative, engaging and forward-looking curriculum content.


The PSB is centred on a skills grid, which encourages NCS boys to think about their personal development in a number of different areas, both inside and outside the classroom. It promotes vital skills in independent learning, the appropriate use of ICT, critical thinking, communication, collaboration and leadership. The PSB centres on a Record of Achievement (ROA) that is updated throughout Years 7 and 8, on which all areas of school life are represented. This ROA enables pupils’ grades and achievements, across the whole curriculum, to be kept on file, and shared at any time with their future schools. The ROA also tracks standardised scores, additional achievements, and pupils’ developments in a variety of different skills that are frequently monitored by the boys themselves and their form tutors. Boys in the Year 8 scholarship form (8S) also complete the PSB, with their scholarship exam grades contributing to the final grades on their ROA, alongside summer assessments in subjects not taken in the scholarship exams.


The senior schools to which NCS sends pupils are very enthusiastic about NCS boys completing the PSB, as we provide them with pupils who have experienced a rigorous, adventurous and creative curriculum. Through the ROA, they also receive a comprehensive and rounded picture of their future pupils. A small number of senior schools, while recognising the value of the PSB, for parity with other prep schools wish to maintain their own Year 8 assessment in core subjects such as English and Maths. Under the PSB the main subjects still follow the core subject content assessed in these separate papers. NCS boys are fully prepared on a case-by-case basis for any assessment that may come up.



In Year 8, if boys show especially good academic achievement, they are encouraged to sit academic scholarships to senior schools and there is a scholarship class designed to facilitate the individual teaching needed. In addition, boys may sit Art, Music, Drama, Sport or All-Rounder Scholarships if appropriate and the staff ensure that boys receive extra support and time to build up portfolios and notebooks or receive additional coaching and tuition. Each senior school has slightly different scholarship procedures, but all are designed to test a high level of skill and knowledge, creativity of thought and genuine intellectual curiosity or outstanding achievement in a chosen discipline.

Recent Leavers' Destinations:


Abingdon School 7 + 2 Scholarships

D'Overbroeck's 1 + 1 Exhibition

Heyford Park School 1

Magdalen College School  2 Scholarships + 5 Exhibitions

St Edward's School 2 Scholarships

Sir William Borlase's School 1


Abingdon School 6 + 2 Scholarships + 1 Exhibition

Bradfield College 1

Cokethorpe School  1

Eton College 1

Magdalen College School 3 Scholarships

Mount Kelly College1 Scholarship 

The Oratory School 1 Scholarship

Our Lady’s Abingdon 1 Scholarship

Radley College 1

St Edward’s School 4 Scholarships


Abingdon School 2 + 2 Exhibitions

Cokethorpe School 3 Scholarships 

Magdalen College School 1 + 6 Scholarships + 4 Exhibitions

Radley College 1 Scholarship

St Edward's School 3

Warwick School Scholarship


Abingdon School 4 + 1 Exhibition

Leckford Place  1

Magdalen College School 2 + 2 Exhibitions

Marlborough College 1 Major Scholarship

The Oratory School 2

Radley College 1 Scholarship

St Edward's School 1 + 2 Scholarships

Stowe School 1

Warwick School 1


Abingdon School 1 + 1 Double Exhibition + 2 Scholarships

Cherwell School 1

Magdalen College School 1 + 2 Scholarships + 1 Exhibition

St Edward's School 4 + 2 Scholarships + 2 Exhibitions


Abingdon School 2 + 1 Scholarship+ 1 Exhibition

Gresham's School, Norfolk 1 Scholarship

Leckford Place 1 Exhibition

Magdalen College School 1 + 1 Scholarship + 1 Exhibition

Radley College 1 Scholarship

St Edward's School 1 Scholarship

The Oratory School 1 Exhibition