A number of boys apply each year to join the The Pilgrims' School in the senior years (11yrs+), for preparation relative to scholarships and the Common Entrance examinations, and for specialist teaching for Winchester College’s own entry examination.

Boys also apply for the opportunity to gain experience of boarding in a small, nurturing environment before becoming boarders at a larger senior school.

Senior School Pre-tests

Many senior schools now require candidates to attend a pre-test and interview in either Year 6 or Year 7. Each school tests at a different time, and each test is slightly different. It can be quite confusing, especially for those with little or no previous experience of the system. The Headmaster will be happy to offer advice as to the best time for your son to join us when you meet him during your visit.

The longer a boy has been with us at Pilgrims', the more informed our suggestion of a senior school will be for him, and the deeper our knowledge will be of him when writing his senior school reference. We will also have more time to prepare him for any pre-tests, interviews and, of course, the final examinations.

If your list of possible senior schools means that your son may have to pass a pre-test in Year 6, you might wish to consider joining in Year 5, so that we can help prepare him for the test. 

We would advise, whenever possible, that any boy hoping to join Pilgrims'  should plan to join us no later than Year 6, the start of our senior years' teaching, to gain full benefit of his time with us.


senior years taster day

Boys seeking to join the school in Year 6 or Year 7 are invited to spend at least a whole day in the school, getting to know the boys and the teachers and gaining a good feel for the school. After working through an assessment with the Director of Studies, a visiting boy will then spend the rest of the day with his peers, joining in with classes, sport, lunch and breaks.  He will meet specialist subject teachers during his day who will enjoy chatting with him. Potential and personality are as important to us as a boy's current ability; it is important that we are the right school for each other. With less time available to prepare for the final exams, however, boys applying to join the senior years must be academically secure, or able to learn quickly in order to fill any curriculum gaps that may become apparent during our assessment. Much depends on the senior school for which the boy is being prepared, as the entry criteria differs between schools with varying degrees of difficulty.

Boys for whom English is not their first language must be fluent in both written and spoken English, as all senior teaching (with the exception of French) is conducted in English, with a strong emphasis on written work.

SEttling in

We take great care to ensure that our taster days are enjoyable and informative. Visiting boys are met by a Pilgrim of the same age and will feel welcomed from the moment they arrive. The day includes plenty of opportunity to join in with lessons and sport, to meet other boys and get to know the school a little. Boarders are looked after by a current boarder and are given a detailed tour of the boarding house by one of the Houseparents, who expains the daily boarding routine and describes the fun activities and excursions which take place each evening and at the weekends.

If offered a place, new boys are often invited to return to the school for another visit, to deepen friendships and to become more familiar with the school before they arrive. Parents will also be given the opportunity to visit the school again before the start of term, to meet their son's tutor and other key staff. They will have a clear idea of what lies ahead, so that they, too, can feel excited and look forward to joining the school.