The 11 Plus Exam Explained: English

We have launched a mini-series of blogs to give parents the lowdown on the different topics within the 11 plus exam. By uncovering what the exam includes, you can better prepare for the exam and maximise your child’s chances of getting into a grammar school.

Most of the time, the 11 plus exam will be divided into four different areas:

  • English
  • Maths
  • Non-Verbal Reasoning
  • Verbal Reasoning

It is unlikely that a child will get into a grammar school if they do well in only two or three of these areas. They will have to score well in all aspects to make the grade and get an acceptance letter.

Sometimes parents and learners are confused by the way the exam is split up. After all, isn't the English test very much like verbal reasoning? They both involve English and language, so what are the differences?

This is one of many questions we will answer in this guide. Learn about the content of the English part of the 11 plus exam and its format, right here.

The Content of 11 Plus English

The English part of the exam will touch on many of the topics that your child learns in their English classes at school. However, the topics in the exam will revolve around the more challenging parts of Key Stage 2 English, and it is possible that some topics have yet to be covered in their English classes.

You should expect questions that test the student’s vocabulary, understanding of word meanings, spelling and punctuation.

 It may seem like these subjects will overlap with the verbal reasoning aspect of the test. And in some cases, there may be some similarities, but on the whole, they are not the same. Keep reading to discover the differences further down this guide.


The Format of the English Section

This section of the exam may use multiple-choice questions and/or open-ended questions where students simply insert their own answer. There is also the possibility that a school will administer a bespoke exam that uses a completely unique format.

The only way to definitely know the format of your child’s English 11 plus exam is to ask the school. You may want to speak with teachers directly or you could find the information online using the school’s website. If they do not know, ask them to find out as soon as possible. This is crucial information that can help you prepare for the exam and ready your child for the real test.

But why do we not know the exact format? Well, the reason is due to two different overseeing bodies for the exam called CEM and GL Assessment. The latter usually uses 45 minute English tests with multiple-choice questions, while the former uses both and puts a lot of focus on vocabulary. However, this may change each year.


The Difference Between English and Verbal Reasoning

One of the most searched questions by confused parents is the difference between the English part of the exam and the verbal reasoning part. They both test on words but that doesn’t mean they are the same.

Verbal reasoning is to use logical thinking and critical thinking to evaluate words. It goes beyond having a good vocabulary – which you need for the English assessment. To be successful at verbal reasoning, your child will need to come up with answers to questions that are not usually taught in schools.

The easiest way to understand the difference between the two is with an example. Whereas English may test vocabulary knowledge, verbal reasoning may ask students to crack codes using letters or even rearrange letters to make a new word.

 Both aspects of the 11 plus exam require a large vocabulary but the verbal reasoning part also requires stronger critical thinking and reasoning skills.


So, How Can Your Child Prepare for the English Assessment?

To develop your child’s vocabulary, you should encourage them to work hard in their English classes but also read more books outside of school.

Moreover, you should look for specific 11 plus tutoring and English practice papers. One way of making this more affordable with even better results is to use the 11 Plus Success online 11 plus course.

 Packed with animated learning and interactive lessons, the 11 Plus Success course is designed to get results for everyone. 11 Plus preparations couldn’t be easier with this online resource, which is always available when your family needs it!
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