BESSA In Session: The Admissions Process

The Director of Admissions at Shrewsbury School, Martin Cropper, answers a series of FAQs about the admissions process at his boarding school, giving us a snapshot of what prospective students can typically expect to encounter when making an application to the UK.

What are the steps in applying for Shrewsbury School? What are the major entry points into Shrewsbury?


  • Registration is the first step.
  • Pupils then take our entrance examinations, either at Shrewsbury or internationally. The entrance process also includes an interview and reference from the current school.  Successful candidates receive an unconditional offer.
  • The final stage is to submit the “Acceptance of a Place” form and associated deposit

Points of entry:

  • We welcome approximately 130 pupils at Year 9 (aged 13+).This is our initial point of entry, and allows pupils to enjoy the full 5 years at Shrewsbury.
  • We then accept approximately 20 pupils into Year 10.Some international families feel more comfortable with their son/daughter waiting until age 14 before leaving for the UK.
  • We accept approximately 60 pupils into Year 12 (aged 16+). This is a very popular entry point, providing pupils with a two year experience in the UK before applying to university.

Are entrance tests taken for admission, and how much weight is given to the results?

Yes, all entrants to the school take examinations.  These are fundamental to receiving an offer.

What about interviews – who will conduct these and must they be done in person at the school?

Interviews are conducted by a senior member of the Admissions team, who will be an experienced teacher.  They can either be done in person or via SKYPE.

If an applicant has missed the regular cut-off date, is there a late admissions procedure and how does it work?

Our main admissions testing takes place during November, 10 months before entry. It is unusual for any Sixth Form (Year 12) places to remain after this.  Year 9 and 10 places sometimes remain available.  To ascertain whether any places remain, please contact the Admissions Office.

Is there a legacy/sibling/early decision policy? Are there quotas for diversity?

We are delighted to welcome siblings to the school, but they do need to adhere to the same deadlines as all other applicants.  We do not work to fixed quotas, but over many years Shrewsbury has had approximately 20% of its pupils being international (and approximately 20% being day pupils).

How will I be allocated to a boarding house? May I choose?

If a family visits the school and expresses a preference, then they are likely to be allocated to that house. If a family has not visited, then the pupil will be allocated centrally to provide a good balance between houses.

Once a student has a guaranteed place, how does Shrewsbury prepare students for their entry into a new school?

We would want to be in close contact with the family, both to answer general questions but also to offer advice on study programmes.At Year 10 and Year 12, there are subject choices to be made, and we would want to be in close dialogue with families to ensure that good choices are made.

We host a Sixth Form Options Fair in late January to which Sixth Form entrants are invited and this helps in making subject choices for A levels.  Year 9 entrants are invited to a new pupil tea party at their house.

What are the weekend programmes in place for boarding students? May students leave school on the weekend?

We are a “full boarding” school, which means that all our boarders remain in school at the weekends that the school is operating.  A full programme of activities is in place (social, sport, activities, performing arts, etc.).  International pupils would spend Exeat weekends with their UK guardians.

What are the financial aids or bursarial support that can be considered for Asian based families?

We offer scholarships in a wide range of areas, including academic, sport, art, drama, design technology and music.  These can be worth up to 30% of the fees.  The school also has bursarial funds available, to assist talented pupils benefit from the educational opportunities offered by the school and is rigorously means-tested.  It is important to realise that scholarships and bursaries are assessed almost a year in advance of entry to the school, so early application is required.

What do you think makes Shrewsbury special?

There is an old adage that ‘education is what’s left after everything you have been taught has been forgotten’. In other words, really successful education is about instilling values.  At Shrewsbury, there is something about the school, the relationships between staff and pupils and our magnificent site that seem to etch themselves into the psyche of all those fortunate enough to spend time studying here.