International Gulf Schools Entry Preparation

International Gulf Schools Entry Preparation


Carfax Consultants

With a rising influx of applications for a limited number of places, the competition for entry to international schools in the UAE remains high. Primary schools in Dubai are oversubscribed, and securing a spot at most private schools can often be a difficult process for prospective students and their parents. For admission into the best schools, pupils usually sit for entrance examinations and may be put on long waiting lists before enrolment.

Carfax offers a unique insight into the different curriculums and various admissions systems in the Gulf. Our dedicated world-class tutors and consultants provide support for children seeking entry into the region’s most renowned schools.

The Educational System

Private schools are common in the Gulf and mainly to cater to the large expatriate community although increasing numbers of local families also choose them for their children. The school week in the Gulf runs from Sunday to Thursday, while the academic year is usually divided into three terms, starting in September and ending in June. The exception is for Indian and Pakistani curriculum schools, which start in April.

The vast majority of private schools are co-educational and teach in English. Many follow the British or American curricula, and often prepare students for the British A level, AP, or International Baccalaureate. Carfax tutors are familiar with the different curricula and can provide expert guidance and support with the diverse approaches to learning offered in the region.

In general, the standards at private schools in the region are varied. Although many have small class sizes and provide state-of-the-art facilities, the question remains as to whether the standard of teaching measures up to that set by the best schools in other countries.

An International Education

Pupils in the Gulf are able to take advantage of the broad range of learning experiences facilitated by the region’s cosmopolitan and multicultural academic environment. The diversity of nationalities provides a unique international community and encourages pupils to see the world through both a global and a local perspective. In addition to local field trips and excursions, many schools also provide opportunities for educational trips abroad.


Applications to private schools in the Gulf should be made at the earliest opportunity, as most international schools hold entrance examinations well in advance and many have long waiting lists. For pupils who aspire to achieve entry into the region’s most competitive schools, Carfax consultants can provide the guidance and support required to maximize their chances of securing a place, ranging from long-term supplementary tuition to practice interviews and assistance with practicalities of the application process.


Faced with the difficulties of gaining admission into local schools, doubts about the efficacy of their provision, and ever-growing waiting lists, a number of parents in the region have considered educating their children at home. Home-schooling in the United Arab Emirates remains not formally recognized by the Ministry of Education. The position of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) of Dubai is that as all children have access to mainstream education, they should therefore be taught in formal schools. As such, children who are home-schooled will not have their years spent outside of formal education recognized by the government. This makes it more difficult for home-schooled children to re-enter the local mainstream education system should they wish to at a later date.

Whilst accepting the position of the KHDA and other governmental authorities in that all children should be in formal education, Carfax is able to assist those to whom this is not a realistic possibility, through supplementary academic tuition and advice on school placement.

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