11+ Exam Information for Parents

Grammar schools choose their pupils based on an entrance exam known as the 11 plus exam - also sometimes written as the 11+ exam. This exam is used to assess year six primary school students’ talents and natural ability in different areas, ultimately identifying the brightest children who will thrive in a challenging academic environment.

We all want what is best for our children and to see them succeed at school. If you want your child to attend one of the best Grammar Schools in the UK, then you will need to give them a helping hand when it comes to preparing for the 11 plus assessment.

Many parents do not have the time to help or the disposable income to pay for a private tutor and therefore need another solution. This is where 11 plus Success come in. We offer a renowned online course that helps students prepare for their 11 plus exam in the best way possible, making tutoring and revising affordable and accessible at all times.

There is much more that parents need to know about the 11 plus exam, from the different types of exams to what they entail and appeal procedures. You can find all this information here in our mini-guide.

Do Grammar Schools Just Use The 11 Plus Exam?

The 11 plus exam is the primary method of selecting students and offering them a place at a grammar school. Some schools will also consider other factors, such as a student’s sporting ability, musical talents or significant areas of academic achievement.

Some grammar schools will set their own bespoke exam made by the teachers at the school. However, this remains a very small proportion of cases; most grammar schools will use the exams made by a recognised testing body of the 11 plus exam. The University of Durham CEM and GL Assessment are the two exam boards and their approaches are slightly different.  Read more here: Differences between GL Assessment & CEM.

The Different 11 Plus Tests

exam course on laptop with light

Although the University of Durham CEM and GL Assessment create their exams to assess the same areas, they are not entirely the same.

The GL Assessment 11 plus exam has been around for over two decades. This has made the exam slightly predictable and the exam board has received criticism for defeating the purpose of the test and preparing children to simply recall answers. Yet, the GL Assessment has made changes in the last years and remains to be widely used as a way of assessing students.

On the other hand, there is the CEM 11 plus test. Their 11 plus assessment has been celebrated because it is deemed somewhat ‘untutorable’ as CEM do not release past exams. This levels out the playing field for children coming from different economic backgrounds. Despite these differences, both exams cover the same topics, namely, English, Maths, Non-Verbal and Verbal Reasoning.

Many of the online courses and study aids for children taking the 11 plus exam focus on one of these tests. Parents can therefore unknowingly choose the wrong course. The online course here at 11 Plus Success focuses on preparing children for both types of tests, so you can be sure your child is always making worthwhile progress.

The Components of the 11 Plus Assessment

As mentioned, the 11 plus exam will cover four areas. Two of these areas are English and Mathematics (the former is also called numerical reasoning) and some of the content your child will also be covering in their everyday school lessons.

To succeed in the English assessment, your child will need a solid understanding and use of the English language, as well as a wide range of vocabulary. The Mathematics component requires students to be excelling the standards of the national curriculum. They will need to be adept in Ratios, Algebra, Long Division, Multiplication, Fractions and Percentages.

Two of the assessment areas which may raise questions in parents are the Non-Verbal Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning components:

Non-Verbal Reasoning

This section of the 11 plus examination will look at the student’s logical thinking and problem-solving skills. Children will be confronted with diagrams, patterns and images and will need to make sense of them and find implied solutions. Children do not necessarily need to be eloquent in this stage of the assessment.

Verbal Reasoning

To succeed in the Verbal Reasoning assessment, your child will need a strong and broad vocabulary with excellent command of the English language, from Grammatical structures to Spelling. This assessment will ask your child to evaluate sentence structures, texts and display further problem-solving skills.

Sitting the 11 Plus Exam

How your child will sit the 11 plus exam will depend on the school they attend. Some schools prefer to deliver the assessment in one sitting, while others will spread the exam out over two sittings. It is more common that a school will choose to sit the exam in its entirety over a three-hour period.

Both of the exam bodies will typically make their 11 plus assessment as a multiple-choice exam. Students will be given one paper with their questions and a separate paper to indicate their answers. There are some questions which may ask the students to work out their answer on another page to show their workings.

Preparing for the 11 plus exam with the same conditions is key to success - and it’s the reason why we at 11 Plus Success have designed our course with the real event in mind.  Read more here: Preparing for the 11+ Exams.

Achieving 11 Plus Success

It can be a wonderful moment when you find out that your child has succeeded in their 11 plus exam. Bursting with pride and with a bright future ahead, the worry and study evenings are unarguably worth it. So, how do you pass the 11 plus exam?

Naturally, Grammar Schools only have a select number of places to award students and they intend to award them to the brightest students who have the potential to do well in a challenging school environment. Therefore, these schools have to ensure that the pass rate is high enough to find the very best students and is often set at around the top 30% but can be as few as the top 25% in some regions.

Remember, the 11 plus test is made to be difficult for these reasons and children who are very intelligent can sometimes not make the grade. This is why extra tuition and revision is crucial for success. 

11plus exam graduation

Doing well in the exam is of course the best way to earn a place at your chosen Grammar School. Yet, considering which Grammar Schools you apply to is also a way of helping your child earn a place via the 11 plus assessment. 

Failing the Exam

Students and parents may be disappointed if their child does not pass the 11 plus assessment, but this does not mean the hard work and extra studying was a waste of time. The course provided to learners by 11 Plus Success will help students enhance their appetite for learning and key skills that they can take with them to future academic pursuits.

It should also be known that parents can submit an appeal if their child was close to the pass grade. Some parents have had success when appealing the initial result but there is never a guarantee that it will work. In Kent and other areas within the UK, headteachers that agree with parents can help an appeal by highlighting that the student’s talent and academic merit is better than their 11 plus exam score shows. This is done by submitting a report.

How Soon Should Your Child Prepare?

Every learner is different and the time they need to improve their knowledge and understanding ready for the 11 plus exam will differ. Starting early is never a bad idea but be sure that you do not burnout you child and overload their workload.

Preparing for the exam can be done in many ways. Using an online course provider is one of the most time-efficient and cost-effective options that works around you and your child’s schedule. This is why so many parent-and-child teams made the right choice - by choosing 11 Plus Success!

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