Particularly bright children may be invited to take part in Election, the academic scholarship exam. 

Election is taken instead of the Winchester Entrance exam. It is a unique selection process involving both written examinations and interviews. Election typically takes place at the school over three days in the April or May of Year 8.


What does success at Election mean?

Those pupils who are successful at Election are awarded either:

  • A Scholarship – pupils are offered a place in College, the oldest of the school’s boarding houses. On joining the school, they are known as Scholars and are distinct by the gowns they wear.
  • An Exhibition – pupils are publicly recognised for their academic ability and accept their existing offer of a place in one of the school’s other boarding houses.
  • Headmaster’s Nominations – an award where a pupil has not previously been offered a conditional place at the school or been successful in gaining an Academic Scholarship, but whose exam results are strong enough to gain a place in the school. He will subsequently be offered a place in one of the school’s boarding houses.

An Academic Scholarship, Exhibition or Headmaster’s Nomination does not automatically carry a remission of school fees. Financial assistance is available via our substantial bursaries programme.

What to Expect in Election

Candidates from prep schools sit compulsory papers in English, Maths 1, Science and General Paper 1. They must also take at least three papers from the following subjects Latin, French, Greek, History, Geography, Maths 2 and General Paper 2.  

We have reformed the Election process to be more accessible to pupils from different academic backgrounds. Candidates from the maintained sector sit compulsory papers in English, Maths 1 and General Paper 1. They are, of course, free to undertake any of the additional papers if they wish. 

The subject syllabuses below set out what may be included within each paper. If you have any questions about Election, please contact Mr Ian Fraser, Master-in-College, or Mrs Ros Robertson, Election Secretary.

Subjects Syllabuses  

Preparing for the Exam

Parents and teachers preparing candidates from the maintained sector to sit papers in English and Maths (Paper 1) at Election are invited to e-mail the Master in College or the Registrar’s office with any questions. They will be happy to assist and can direct their queries to the appropriate Head of Department if needed.

Past papers are a helpful way of preparing. They give a good indication of the level and difficulty of typical questions.The following examples of Election papers from recent years are provided to give prospective pupils an idea of what to expect.


Ian Fraser

College Housemaster (known as Master-in-College)

Ian Fraser joined Winchester College in 1990 as a Biology teacher, and became the College Housemaster (known as the Master-in-College) in 2012. He is responsible for the Election process: from the initial discussions with potential candidates about their suitability for Election, through to the final selection of the scholars.

Ian has a degree in Biological Sciences from Birmingham University and a PGCE from Cambridge. During his time at Winchester, Ian has been Head of Biology, Master in Charge of Swimming, an RAF officer in the Combined Cadet Force, and a set designer in the school’s theatre. He is a SCUBA Divemaster and remains Master in Charge of the Expedition Society, taking boys to remote parts of the globe.

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