Everything you need to know about the 11+ exams
The 11+ exam is a test for children in year 6 who are hoping to go on to one of the country’s grammar schools. Catering to learners from year 7 onwards, these selective schools use the exam results to determine whether or not a learner is suitable for the course.
The 11+ exams are only taken in certain parts of England as there are no longer any grammar schools in Wales and Scotland. As for Northern Ireland, candidates take a separate exam called the Northern Ireland Transfer Test. This article outlines everything you need to know about what the 11+ exams entail and how you can prepare your child for it.
Which subjects will my child be tested on?
The 11+ exams test candidates on four subjects. The aim is to equip learners with the tools to master English and mathematics from an early age. These subjects play a core role in providing learners with a well-rounded education and prepares them for further studies at universities and colleges.
- Verbal reasoning
The verbal reasoning paper is to test problem-solving in questions relating to words and text. This may be to find hidden words, unscramble words or to compare sets of words in terms of definition, spelling, etc. This is not to be confused with the English paper, detailed below.
- Non-verbal reasoning
Non-verbal reasoning involves solving puzzles, which may be to do with diagrams, pictures and shapes. There is an element of mathematics involved, but this is different from the mathematics paper, detailed below.
The English paper is largely comprehension focused. Students are provided with a passage to read and answer questions on. The English paper will also have a spelling and grammar section and may involve a creative writing task.
The maths paper involves solving mental maths problems as well as testing general mathematical skill and the ability to solve multi-stage problems.
When and where do I need to apply?
It is best to apply as early as possible to ensure all application requirements are met. Parents should apply when their children are still in year 5 to ensure that any last-minute hiccups are avoided. Each school or borough has its own application process so you may find yourself wading through more guidelines and filling out more forms than what you anticipated. The best advice is to start the process as early as possible. To sit the 11+, parents or tutors must register the learner through the local authority website.
When and where do the exams take place?
If your child goes to a local authority (state) primary school, they will sit the test in one of the classrooms of the grammar school they are applying for. Testing is usually done within the first few months of the academic year, most commonly in September and October.
What are the different exam boards?
There are three main exam boards: CEM (Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring), CSSE ( Consortium of Selective Schools in Essex) and the GL assessment.
CEM exams cover verbal, non verbal and numerical reasoning. Verbal and numerical reasoning papers are similar to the maths and English papers set by GL. There are only two individual CEM exams, with both covering English/verbal reasoning and maths/non-verbal reasoning.
The CSSE exam is sat only for 10 schools (listed in the table below). The exam consists of only a maths and an English paper. It is sat in the selective school, which you as a parent have nominated as your preferred centre. To register for the CSSE 11+ exam complete the online form at www.csse.org.uk. The English paper is 60 minutes + 10 minutes reading time, and the maths paper is 60 minutes in total.
- GL Assessment
The GL exam consists of all four 11+ subjects (maths, English, verbal and non-verbal reasoning), and may contain written or multi-choice questions. Tests are usually 45 minutes long.
How will I get the results?
Test results will usually be sent out in October in the form of a standardised score, and you will have until the end of October to apply for secondary school places, which are allocated at the beginning of March.
Where can I get some help for my child for the 11+ exams?
Sitting exams at such a young age can be a daunting prospect for many children. Nerves, distraction, and poor preparation from school means many children do not reach their full potential, and cannot go on to the leading schools that they deserve to.
Boost Education provides comprehensive tuition on the 11+ exams for schools in London, Essex and Kent, and can give your child the extra tools they need to succeed in the exams and go on to join some of the best schools in the country. Visit here to book a free assessment at one of our learning centres.
List of schools in London, Essex and Kent requiring the 11+ exams: