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Looking ahead to a year of learning

A new year ushers in new opportunities for learning, and here at Figtree we’re gearing up for another twelve months of carefully tailored tuition and expert consultancy. Working with children as young as four, all the way to university (and beyond), we’re equipped to support our students through every educational milestone. So this month, we’re looking ahead to some key dates in the coming year, and sharing some top tips to help get 2023 off to the very best start.


While Oxbridge candidates will have already submitted their university applications, the UCAS deadline for all other undergraduate courses is 25 January. Now’s the time to put those final touches to references and personal statements – remembering to focus on why you’ve chosen that degree, and what makes you a good fit.

We’ve reviewed hundreds of personal statements over the years, and along with providing that all-important final proofread, our wide alumni network can offer valuable insights into a whole host of leading universities – and the wishes and wants of their admissions boards.

February to May

When schools resume after the spring half-term break, all attention turns to the summer exam season. IB exams begin in April, with GCSEs and A-levels running through May and June, so revision preparation should be topping timetables now. We find the best strategy is to work little and often, setting a steady rhythm early that students can maintain over a longer period.

We can provide targeted subject support, as well as work through practice papers in exam conditions to build confidence. We always aim to match our students with tutors who have excelled in their chosen subjects, with specific expertise in the relevant exam boards.

June to July

Most children navigating the 11+ will sit their exams in the early part of Year 6. We always suggest preparations begin long before the summer so that children have plenty of time to cover core test material and get a good run of practice papers under their belts. Increasing numbers of schools are using interviews as part of the 11+ process too, so we can work through techniques and question sets to help allay any anxieties well in advance.


The holidays are a welcome chance to rest and recharge, but it’s important to mitigate the impact of ‘summer slide’ – where young children in particular can easily regress in core skills like numeracy and literacy. We can devise a tailored package of learning that carefully balances downtime with continued stimulation. And don’t miss our group sessions, as an engaging way to keep children learning together over the long summer break.

Students embarking on their A-level or IB exams in the coming academic year should be looking to review the previous year’s progress now, filling any gaps so they can begin the final stretch with confidence.


The new academic year arrives with a host of challenges, and focus this month is firmly on those children applying for a new school. The 11+ exams for grammar schools are imminent, so it’s time to complete final practice papers. And for those children taking school entrance tests between November and January, it’s critical to put in place a structured revision plan now.

This is also open day season, and we strongly recommend visiting any target schools in person. Our schools shortlisting service can help streamline your search, offering bespoke recommendations based on your family’s needs and your child’s aspirations. And while an academic assessment is a really valuable way to check in on progress and inform ongoing tuition year-round, it can also help narrow down your school options to an ambitious, yet achievable, list.


Oxbridge applicants have an earlier UCAS deadline of 15 October, so should be looking to finalise their submissions long in advance. We have a dedicated Oxbridge team on hand to help navigate all the requirements of each university – as well as the nuances of individual colleges – to help ensure our students are well prepared for written statements, interviews and additional exams.

November to December

Independent and boarding schools begin their application processes around November, with multiple papers, online pre-tests and often an interview to prepare for. Students will generally sit assessments in English, maths, verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Exact testing requirements will vary by school, with some setting their own pre-tests and exams. But for many, the first step is the ISEB Common Pre-Test – which is often used for the 11+ and 13+. Tests are usually taken in November, and with four online assessments, in a multiple-choice format, it’s a flexible option for both schools and candidates.

Students that are successful in their pre-tests will usually be invited to sit written tests and attend an interview in January, so preparation must be well structured and carefully timed, to avoid students becoming overwhelmed. We run a number of targeted 7+, 8+, 11+ and 13+ courses to support learning and boost engagement with what can be a long process.

Meanwhile, those looking stateside for further education will be facing November admission deadlines for early action, and January deadlines for regular decisions – which is generally the preferred route for international students. Either way, with US colleges demanding extra tests and complex paperwork, the application process often stretches over many months.

With extensive international expertise and a dedicated US college advisory team, we can help prospective students understand all the requirements, navigate new testing techniques and even support with initial course and college research.

Whether this year marks the move to a new school or university, all-important exams or even an overseas adventure, our expert education consultants are here to help at every step. Get in touch with the Figtree team to find out more and hit the new year running.

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