What is the 11 Plus Exam?
The 11 Plus Exam is an exam that children who are 10 years old sit to get admission into a Grammar School. A Grammar School is a state funded Secondary School whose selection criteria is to only allow the cleverest children admission. They only allow children who scores highest mark in the selection test (the selection test is known as 11 Plus Exam, it has many names, but they are all the same, 11+ Exam, Eleven Plus Test etc.).
As the Grammar School chooses their pupils through an exam, and because they picked the brightest children the Grammar Schools GCSE and A’ Level Results are amongst the best in the UK. Grammar School always perform the best in the UK National School League Tables.
What does the 11 Plus Exam consist of?
The test usually consists of Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning, Mathematics and English. Verbal Reasoning are questions where you need to identify patterns or sequences in English based questions. Non-Verbal Reasoning question are pictorial based questions like ‘spot the difference’ quizzes. English and Maths are as per the National Curriculum but tend to go as far as School Year 6 work and in some cases School Year 7 work.
The contents of the test vary across the country, some may have more Verbal Reasoning questions, some may have more English questions and so on. You can find out what your local Grammar School test exactly consists of by contacting your Grammar School Consortium.
The 11 Plus Exam is meant to be an aptitude test, a type of test where you cannot prepare a child. Whilst the test is designed so that tutoring cannot help the test results, many parents get coaching for their child, and many children pass the test because they have had exposure to the right ‘type’ of questions. This clearly puts the child at an advantage over other children who have not had tutoring or done any 11 Plus Online Training.
To get help with the 11 Plus Exam, many parents hire tutors, or go to specialist 11 Plus Centres, like Educational Tutoring Services, or do 11 Plus Online Courses. Some parents buy books and coach their child themselves. The best approach is somewhere in-between these methods, you may decide to get specialist 11 Plus help and support your child at home as well.
Do I have to pay to sit the 11 Plus Exam?
The 11 Plus exam is free to sit for all children. Private schools should not be confused with Grammar Schools, Private School charge parents for their child to go to the school and usually also charge for their selection test.
Do I have to pay to go to a Grammar School?
No, a Grammar School is state funded education and therefore you do not have to pay. However, your child must pass the 11 Plus Exam to get a place in a Grammar School.
What is the pass mark for a Grammar School 11 Plus Test?
The pass mark for Grammar Schools is difficult to determine as a percentage mark. The marks are also standardised, which add another level of complexity. We will try to explain how the pass mark works for Grammar Schools.
Let us pretend a school has 100 places, and 3000 children apply for the test, it will simply pick the top 100 children. Now if the test was a hard test the pass mark may be as low as 60%, however if it was a relatively easy test the pass mark may move to over 90%. This is where standardisation comes in, the Grammar Schools tend to use a points-based system, whereby they compare the tests against a baseline test to determine if it is harder or easer than the benchmark. The points are then allocated based on the difficulty or the examination. Therefore, some Grammar School publish the lowest points the child got in the previous years to secure a place in a grammar school. As the paper is standardisation, this benchmark is always very similar every year.
Some Grammar Schools further take the child’s age into consideration, if a child is born on 31st August, they would be in the same academic year as a child born on 1st September the previous year. This means that a child born in August is one year younger than the child in September and they compensate for this age difference. It is only a few points, but it has a potential to make a difference.
Which Grammar Schools are local to me?
It is best to get in touch with your Local Education Authority and ask them the question, or you can try googling some like, ‘Nearest Grammar School’, this will pull up the results of the Local Grammar Schools, then it is best to email or phone them for information.
How do I apply for Grammar Schools?
The Grammar Schools themselves will provide all application details. Get in touch with your Local Grammar School. The timetable varies across the country, but the time to apply is usually when your Child is in School Year 5 in the month of May. Some Schools will open application sooner and some later.
There are some useful blogs you can read to help prepare your child better: