The 11+ is a selective entrance examination for secondary school, used by grammar schools to identify most academically suited children. Generally, the exam is taken towards the end of Year 5 or beginning of Year 6 of primary school.
There are mainly two exam boards for the 11+ exams which most of the grammar schools follow for the 11+ test: CEM (Durham University) and GL Assessment. It is very important to do your own research and find out what board your target grammar schools are using. Generally, schools websites are good for such information however you can also call the school to ensure there is no recent change.
GL Assessment: Dorset, Kent, Lancashire & Cumbria, Lincolnshire, Buckinghamshire, Plymouth, Northern Ireland and Wiltshire.
CEM: Berkshire, Bexley, Birmingham, Medway, Gloucestershire, Shropshire, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wirral, Wolverhampton.
GL and CEM: Devon, Essex, Hertfordshire, Trafford, Yorkshire
What is covered in the 11+ exam?
The content and structure of the 11+ exam vary between different areas of the country, but generally, it includes four disciplines; verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, maths and English. Although the content of the English and maths tests tend to follow the National Curriculum, verbal and non-verbal reasoning are not subjects that are taught as part of the curriculum in state primary schools. All questions are generally multiple-choice questions.
These questions are about solving problems and following sequences to do with words and text. Verbal reasoning tests your child’s English grammar and vocabulary. Verbal reasoning is test of a analytical skills rather than a test of learned knowledge. Verbal Reasoning test helps to determine a child’s critical thinking ability. Some types of questions that are tested in a verbal reasoning exam are analysing codes based on letters and numbers, spotting sequences, following written instructions, spotting words within words or finding a letter to complete two other words.
Non-verbal reasoning questions are designed to test problem-solving skills around pictures, diagrams and shapes rather than their knowledge of English. Many local authorities and independent schools also use non-verbal reasoning tests to evaluate a candidate’s suitability. NVR questions also test the child’s mathematical capabilities. However, it’s not a suitable test for evaluating a child’s understanding of written language. Non-Verbal Reasoning test helps to examine to get a picture of your child’s potential and intelligence, rather than their learned ability.
Your child will be tested on mental maths, maths concepts and problems that have to be solved in multiple stages. Generally, 11+ Maths test would involve learnt formulas to calculate most answers in the 11+ exams. For example, basic areas such as factors and multiples will be tested to see your child’s knowledge of arithmetic-styled questions. They are also evaluated on their reasoning skills and how well they can explain their chosen method.
The English paper puts your child’s creative writing skills to the test, as they have to plan, structure and write a piece of work.
How do I prepare my child for the 11+?
Preparing your child for the 11+ can be rather challenging, but here’re some advice on how to start preparing your child for the 11+:
Step 1 – Find out schools participating in 11+ in your area
Step 2 – Right time to start preparation for 11+
Step 3 – Create a preparation plan for your child