What is the 11 plus exam?
The eleven plus exam is a selective entrance examination for secondary school taken by some children in England and Northern Ireland. Most of the entrance exams are sat at the beginning of Year 6 in September by primary school children. The results of the test determine whether a child is academically suitable to attend a selective or grammar school.
Why do only some children take the exam?
It is not mandatory for children to sit the 11 plus exam. It is down to each parent to decide if it is best for their child to sit the 11 plus test or not. All students, regardless of their academic ability or special educational needs, are entitled to be registered for a grammar school entrance test through their Local Education Authority (LEA).
The 11+ exam usually includes some or all of the four disciplines: verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, math and English for which children will most likely need some preparation and tuition. It is important for parents to soak up as much knowledge about the exams and schools prior to the test before making the decision of whether it is the best option for their child. The child’s health and mental well-being should be placed at the forefront of all decision making.
One place for support and advice 24/7 with like minded parents is reaching out to and joining 11 plus online forums.
Benefits of joining an 11 plus forum
As you already know, most people usually go online to research and find answers to questions they have been carrying around in their heads, either through curiosity or inexperience. In such situations, online forums can come in extremely handy. They can provide you with the information you may need at an instance. Now, let’s say that your child is almost in Year 4 and you are contemplating whether he or she is going to take the 11+ exam, or you are unsure how to apply for a grammar school place or perhaps you have already made your decision; however, you do not know what the requirements are or the steps to follow. This is where it is important to join an 11 plus forum for up to date guidance, advice and tips from other parents and contributors.
The online 11 plus forums offer several advantages that may be rewarding for you and your child. For that matter, in this post we will explain to you the benefits that can be obtained by joining an 11+ forum. Keep reading and you’ll find out!
First of all, if you have decided to read up on this matter, it’s probably because you are a fish out of water trying to find your way. You need some guidance, support and orientation. Nevertheless, going to your child’s school without even knowing what to ask can be overwhelming. Besides, you do not have all day to sit and have a chat with the headteacher or the teachers themselves. Unlike schools, 11 plus forums provide you with information 24 hours a day all year round. Thus, you can go through the topics and threads to see the most frequently asked questions about the whole 11 plus process, find answers to some of your own questions and also post unique questions with a single click before visiting the schools themselves to ask the real questions.
The larger and more active the forum the better. Even when certain questions are not necessarily related to yours, you may be able to help other people inside and outside the forum with that little bit of extra information.
So now that you have finally joined an 11+ forum, what’s next?
You must interact with people, of course. Forums are an excellent way to build relationships because you are not the only one seeking answers to 11 plus questions. The forum will afford you the opportunity to engage with other members and exchange tips, suggestions, advice and anything that could facilitate your child’s preparation in advance of the real 11 plus exam itself. Showing up and talking to people will help you to become more familiar with the entire 11 plus process. People whose posts you reply to will remember you and be more receptive when you approach them for something. Moreover, your posts will remain there permanently and anyone may leave you a response.
It is important to conduct yourself professionally and demonstrate good manners. Try to be respectful, kind, helpful, and active in the forum. Avoid spamming and harassing fellow members for immediate responses to questions. They already know you are in need; surely, they will do their best to get back to you as soon as possible. Just be a little bit patient and you’ll see the results!
The forums are completely FREE of charge and you have access to a wealth of information and links to suitable resources, whilst having several different mentors guiding you through the entire 11+ process and supporting your child to enable them to pass the 11 plus exam and get into grammar school.
Another incredible benefit of joining an 11+ forum is the broad range of members. It is not only parents who are members, but also private tutors and tuition companies around the UK. Some of the companies offer mock test services (familiarisation papers) and other useful 11+ banks of resources to refer to for free or at affordable rates. Rather than digging through piles of paper, you can simply scroll back to the conversations to remind yourself what was said. You can also set up your account to receive notifications when new posts or resources are added to the forum.
But that is not all: in case you wanted to use a tuition service, 11+ forums often include a list of online and private tutors (by region) who you can contact to help your child identify their strengths and areas for development. These tutors may also develop core skills in English, maths, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning in half the time it would take you otherwise. You may also use tutors to help your child become more familiar with the different question types and styles in each subject. This will enable your child to understand the format of the test they will be taking and eventually approach it successfully.
Furthermore, having access to the information in the forum will definitely give children the chance to practise at home, feel less intimidated by the real exam and release a lot of the stress that comes with it whilst minimising memory blackouts.
As has been noted above, joining an 11 plus forum is an excellent online tool for resolving any doubts you may have and providing all the information you need to know about the 11+ exam itself. Additionally, you receive resources and mentorship services for free or for nominal prices. Beyond that, forums help you engage with other people in the same situation as you or more experienced and help you find solutions to overcome the problems you may be facing. So the next time you are doing some research and find yourself wandering through websites, remember you can visit an online forum!
The 11+ (or "11-plus") exam is an entrance exam that is usually taken at the beginning of Year Six. This exam is mostly sat in the month of September. The test may consist of some or all of the following subjects:
• Verbal Reasoning
• Non-Verbal Reasoning
The average score, which may also be age weighted, will determine if a child is admitted into the grammar school of their choice.
One of the key variables that must be taken into account is the different types of exams. The tests are not always the same. Some schools only test Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning, whilst others test three or all four of the subjects mentioned. The questions are presented differently and the skills examined vary depending on the exam board the school chooses (if any). The two main examination boards are:
• GL Assessment formerly known as NFER (National Foundation for Educational Research) usually administer and verify all tests students sit in the following grammar school regions: Berkshire, Bexley, Birmingham, Buckinghamshire, Devon, Gloucestershire, Shropshire, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wirral and Wolverhampton.
• CEM (Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring) is another institution responsible for verifying all the admission tests for the following regions: Cumbria, Dorset, Kent, Lancashire, Medway, Northern Ireland and Wiltshire. The CEM 11+ exam usually covers the verbal and nonverbal reasoning part as well as the mathematical part of the test. (This institution usually evaluates the skills obtained in the mathematical and English assessments of the GL Assessment).
NOTE: Schools in Devon, Essex, Hertfordshire, Trafford and Yorkshire use a mixture of GL Assessment and CEM to perform admission tests. This brief but concise guide for parents of the 11 plus test should be taken into account when children are in the process of taking or revising for the actual 11 plus exam.
Take into account tutor experience and subject knowledge
One of the things to consider in relation to the 11 plus test and this guide for parents, is the importance of selecting the best tutors with high knowledge and experience of teaching to the respective exams in your region. Skills in numerical subjects such as mathematics is essential and the English element is very demanding and comparable to a GCSE Foundation paper.
Elements which are usually in the real 11 plus exam:
• ENGLISH: Comprehension, vocabulary, grammar, punctuation and excellent spelling.
• MATHEMATICS: Arithmetic skills, data manipulation, reasoning and problem solving.
• NON-VERBAL REASONING: Assessment of pattern detection, spatial awareness and logical skills.
Schedule and steps to follow for the 11 plus test
The following information shows the schedule that can be taken into account as an 11 plus test guide for parents. This schedule reflects tests that will be sat in the following years:
• September 2019: If your child has already been preparing for this test it is advisable to take it this year, otherwise, it is recommended to wait another year. Check the age limits of each school and verify if that school meets the parameters you want for your child.
• April 2020: To be better equipped and prepared you must approach the school you wish your child to attend directly and register for the tests before the deadline given. You usually register for the exam in the months of April or May. Buckinghamshire automatically enters all primary children for the 11+ exam.
• September 2020: In general, most grammar schools usually make students sit the 11 plus test in September and not in June or July. This allows for more preparation to achieve an excellent and adequate result to enter one of the many schools on offer. The 11 plus exam usually happens during the first two weeks of September. It is important that you go directly to your selected school to verify the exact date.
• October 2020: The results are usually announced in October, one month after the test in September.
• March 2021: After your child is selected you must be aware of the Top 5 school selection choices on your Secondary admissions form. Places are usually confirmed on March 1, 2021.
• September 2021: Those children selected to enter Grammar School begin their first term in their chosen grammar school.
What to do if your child is selected?
Beyond being proud of your child and having boundless joy, some schools may invite selected students for an interview. In this way, the schools can obtain a more defined profile of the selected group of students. Many schools after attending the interview day and verifying everything usually make a conditional offer to the child. This 11 plus test guide for parents is important to keep in mind.
Apart from that, research the curriculum of the school fully over Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 and determine if it meets the necessary needs of your child to flourish both academically and personally.
What to do if your child does not pass the 11 Plus Exam?
Let's talk about the psychological aspects that this test can cause in the event that your child is not selected. We all know that the 11 plus exam is by no means an easy exam. The preparation is very demanding and intensive, so it is not uncommon for many children not to be selected (hopefully not the case of your child) but if this is the case, the first thing is to encourage and offer your child encouragement. Demonstrate that if they could not enter one of the several grammar schools, their effort has been recognised and they are adequately rewarded for it. As parents it is paramount that you do not show disappointment or discomfort as this will negatively affect your child immensely.
One of the actions to consider in this guide for parents of the 11 plus exam, is if your child is not selected, take notes of their weaknesses and reinforce them for any future grammar school entrance exams in Year 8 and Year 9.
Another aspect to consider is that on certain occasions, due to several factors, children do not always remain in their selected grammar school of choice. If so, give them plenty of support and express joy and positivism. Encourage your child that all will work out better in the end and that they will form many new friendships in their new school.
Not only have we covered the basic elements of the 11 plus test in this guide for parents, but we have also given precise descriptions of the most relevant positive and negative aspects of the whole 11 plus process. You may wish to re-read this article again and focus on the details and information given carefully in this 11 plus test guide for parents.
When you begin your preparation and research for your child’s 11+ exam, there is a vital element that you will encounter and need to take into account. Most schools follow or partly follow either one of these two principal types of exams:
Basically, these are the two exam boards that administer the tests. It must be noted that some schools also mix in their own school written tests to go alongside the two mentioned exam boards above. Although they cover pretty much the same subjects or topics, there are fundamental differences between both the GL and CEM 11 plus assessments. This is the reason why it is very important that you know which exam your child is taking, since it varies greatly depending on counties and schools. But don’t worry, this article will provide you with the key differences between the GL assessment 11+ papers and the CEM 11+ papers.
GL Assessment was previously known as the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), but in 2007 it was bought out by Granada Learning and re-named ‘GL Assessment’. Nowadays, Granada Learning develops and administers the 11+ exams in the majority of Grammar Schools in the United Kingdom.
CEM Assessment was created in 1999 and developed by the Centre for Evaluation & Monitoring at the University of Durham. The conception of this exam was empowered by concerns based on ‘playing the system’ that some grammar schools started to sense and fear in the previous 11+ system. The CEM 11 plus assessment was a response to these distresses and was designed to prevent question spotting and what they call ‘teaching to the test’. It was a new approach to prevent coaching for the 11+ exam and to make it a “tutor-proof” test.
How do CEM Assessment accomplish this? They have different methods to do so, for example, this centre does not produce or publish any practice papers, they don’t maintain the same format for their tests and a difficulty increase is actually observed during the test.
GL Assessment: Buckinghamshire, Cumbria, Dorset, Kent, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Northern Ireland, Plymouth and Wiltshire.
CEM Assessment: Berkshire, Bexley, Birmingham, Buckinghamshire, Gloucestershire, Medway, Shropshire, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wirral and Wolverhampton.
GL and CEM: Devon, Essex, Hertfordshire, Trafford and Yorkshire
In the case of Surrey, grammar schools in this region write their own 11+ assessment papers, they use the Selective Eligibility Test (SET).
You may be interested to know that there have been an ever increasing number of regions that have transferred to the CEM assessment exam in recent years. But also, as you can see, some of the regions still use a combination of GL assessment 11+ and CEM 11+ papers.
Since grammar schools and regions can change from one exam board to another, it’s imperative that you check with each grammar school that your child is applying to, of which exam board they will be using for their year of entry.
GL Assessment: the GL exam covers these four 11+ subjects: English, Maths, Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning. Grammar schools can choose any combination that best aligns with their selection program and policies.
CEM Assessment: the CEM exam covers five 11 plus areas: Comprehension, Vocabulary, Verbal Reasoning, Numerical Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning. The ‘Verbal Reasoning’ includes several of the skills covered in the GL English exam. Also, the ‘Numerical Reasoning’ contains the main maths skills included in the GL assessment papers.
Speaking in terms of the KS2 National Curriculum content, both verbal and numerical reasoning questions contained in the CEM 11+ papers, encompasses more areas than GL Assessment 11+ papers do. It is important to reiterate that each region and grammar school can choose the best combination of subjects that fits their selection specifications.
The GL 11+ assessment papers have a tendency to last 45 minutes, but of course, this time does vary considerably as per the choice of each individual school and 11 plus region.
On the other hand, the CEM 11+ assessment papers do not have an established set time and can change from year to year according to the format selected for that edition. It has been seen that some schools have published relevant data and information about the format they will be using on their admissions page on their respective school websites. From this information it is possible for parents and tutors to gather some ideas of examples previously used. For example, sets of four papers with break with each section consisting of papers with different timings.
GL Assessment: this exam is divided into the four different subjects that have previously already been mentioned. The questions are taken from the GL Assessment Question Bank. This is the reason why through repeated practice, children can be well trained and prepared for these style of questions.
There are two ways, depending on the format you are facing to answer these questions. You can either write next to them in the spaces provided for this format (Standard Format) or respond to them on a different answer sheet with usually 5 different options for answers (Multiple Choice). This is the way the majority of GL 11+ exams operate, but it can vary by region and school.
CEM Assessment: unlike the GL exam, CEM 11+ papers are not separated by topics. They are all mixed in together. You will face combinations in comprehension, vocabulary, verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning and non-verbal reasoning. Furthermore, sections may be placed in a different order, jumping from shorter to longer ones and with diverse timings. Similar to the GL 11+ assessment papers, the region or school may choose between a Standard Format or a Multiple Choice Format.
It is important to note, that in the CEM 11+ exam it is usual to find a greater amount of questions than time can allow you to answer. This is why parents should explain to their children that there is highly likely probability that they will not finish the paper in the allocated time given. Children should be advised not to become anxious or worried, they just need to administer their time correctly and answer as many questions as they can in the allocated time period. The weighting of marks/points for each section of the test is never revealed before the assessment. It is key to know that the CEM 11+ exam prioritises vocabulary, problem solving and speed.
GL Assessment: Strong vocabulary, logic, maths and strong spelling skills are required.
CEM Assessment: Strong English, comprehension, vocabulary, spelling and math’s skills are required. CEM verbal reasoning is very different to GL verbal reasoning and success is dependent on children having a much wider-ranging vocabulary skill set.
These were the key differences between GL Assessment Papers and CEM Assessment Papers for 11 plus, just be sure to know which test your child will be taking so that you can ensure the best preparation for him/her.
If your child is reaching Year 5 and you are still pondering over whether to send them to a grammar school, you may have already started hearing references that relate to the 11+ exam. You may not exactly know what the 11 plus exam entails, what skills it examines or when or where it takes place. Welcome! That’s exactly what we are going to discuss on this blog.
What is the 11 plus exam?
The 11 plus exam is a selective examination taken by students in England and Northern Ireland in their final years of primary school (at the beginning of Year 6) to gain admission into grammar schools. It usually requires a year to several months of study, tuition and preparation. If you are reading this, you are most likely considering entering you child in for the test, so you may have many, many questions about the 11+ exam, its structure and content.
What does the 11 plus test consist of?
Understanding the 11 plus paper structure and content is necessary because it will help guide your preparation for the test. To be more efficient and pass the exam, you definitely need to know what to study. Besides, it can help your child become comfortable with the style of papers and how to answer questions in the correct manner. Even though the content and structure of the 11 + papers differ in each county, region and from school to school, it will generally focus on the following four subjects:
All sections generally offer multiple choice answers except in English, which is normally a written piece of work which is assessed to evaluate your child’s writing skills.
Where and when does the 11 plus exam take place?
That will depend on which type of school your child goes to. In some regions, if a child goes to a local authority primary school, they will sit the 11+ exam in one of their classrooms, and if they go to a different kind of school, they will be asked to take it at a central location like a local grammar school. However, this changes according to the region you reside in. It is important that you check with your Local Education Authority (LEA) as to what procedure to follow. The date is another story. The exam often takes place during the autumn term in September, although schedules may differ depending on where you live. However, there are usually mock tests in different regions that occur for children to give them a feel of exam conditions and the format and pressure of the actual exam itself. You usually need to book in for these in advance as they are popular and can get fully booked out early on.
Do all children have to sit the 11 plus exam?
As you may be experiencing many references to it, you could be wondering if it is a compulsory paper for all children. If that is the case, then the answer is no. The 11 + exam has to be taken by only those who wish to apply for a place in grammar school. The decision is entirely in your hands.
How do I prepare my child for the 11+ exam?
Now, let’s say you have come to a decision and your child needs to take the 11+ paper to be able to attend the grammar school of your choice. What’s the next move? Preparing for it, naturally. For that reason, here are some tips that will help your child become prepared and exam ready:
What comes after the 11+ exam?
After your child has taken the 11 plus exam and all the pressure has evaporated, there is only one thing left: Awaiting the results. Yet, don’t worry! You won’t have to wait for too long. You usually receive the results in October in the form of a “standardised score”. This means that the score is mathematically adjusted to be on an understandable scale which takes into consideration the fact that some children could be younger than others when they take the test. Therefore, your child’s score may depend on how well they do in comparison to everyone else taking the test in the same year. On this scale, the lowest score is 69 or 70 and the highest score 140 or 141. Once you receive the results, you will have until the end of the month to apply for secondary school places.
So now that you know what the 11 plus exam is, what skills it examines, where and when it takes place and have all the tips and details to help your child through the process, you can stop wondering and finally come to a decision. May the odds be in your favour and let the examination period begin!