11 Plus Exam Blog - 11 Plus Maths

What are the benefits of joining an 11 plus forum online?

Apr 04,2020


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!

11 Plus Results 2019 Onwards – A Guide For Parents

Apr 04,2020

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:

• English

• Verbal Reasoning

• Non-Verbal Reasoning

• Maths

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.


What is the difference between GL Assessment Papers and CEM Assessment Papers for the 11 plus?

Apr 04,2020


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:

  • 11 Plus GL assessment papers
  • 11 Plus CEM assessment papers

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.

Some history:

GL Assessment

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

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.

Exam time:

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.

Exam Format:

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.

Skills required

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.


What do you need to know about the 11 plus exam?

Apr 04,2020

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:

  1. English (Comprehension, grammar, writing): This will test your child’s ability to plan and structure written text.
  2. Numerical Reasoning (Maths): Your child will be asked to solve several problems which involve multiple stages to demonstrate their mathematical skills, understanding and problem solving.
  3. Verbal Reasoning (VR): This will test your child’s English grammar, vocabulary and maths through questions and sequences related to words, numbers and texts.
  4. Non-Verbal Reasoning (NVR): This will test your child’s ability to solve problems involving diagrams, pictures, sequences, patterns and some elements of maths as well.

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:

  1. Find as much information about the test in your area – As you may know, the exams are regionalised and the content of the tests depend on where you live and what grammar school you are applying to. Hence, you should try to avoid rumours and contact the schools directly to get first-hand information. Nevertheless, in some areas the content of the exams remains a secret.

  1. Develop your child’s skills – Once you know what subjects will be examined, it’s important that you find practice materials to help your child develop their subject knowledge and skills and maybe consider hiring a tutor or tuition company who specialise in the 11+ field. This will not only help you evaluate your child’s strengths and weaknesses and work on them, but also develop extra techniques and skills such as working under timed conditions and efficient methods to solve problems.

  1. Make a schedule – As competition for grammar school places is very fierce, you need to work extremely hard if you want to get in, so it is recommended that you create a plan for your child to maximise their time and ensure they are prepared for the exam. Therefore, set a specific time of the week for their preparation sessions and stick to it as firmly as possible. But of course, being realistic about how much time your child can dedicate to it without burning and stressing themselves out.

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!

The Key To Success In 11 Plus Mathematics With 11+ Practice Papers

Apr 04,2020

Students will experience success if you nurture their confidence so that they can work independently, take risks and persevere. The opposite will occur if students believe that they are no good at maths and will be very likely to give up before they have really tried.

Research shows that there is a strong link between confidence and achievement in mathematics. That’s why nurturing confidence is at the heart of our 11+ materials at 11+ Practice Papers.

The thinking behind 11+ Practice Papers

When preparing our 11 plus maths resources and online testing we have tapped into the knowledge and experience of leading mathematics education researchers and 11 plus teachers across different regions:

  • We closely examined the new National Curriculum for Mathematics (including Key Stage 2)
  • We appraised the best performing countries in mathematics and their approaches to learning.
  • We reviewed some recent and most commonly cited research papers in mathematics education.
  • We audited the most respected and well-used mathematics resources, both print and digital.

As a result we’ve developed a brand-new approach to 11 Plus Mathematics, designed to nurture confidence and raise achievement.

The 10 key principles of 11+ Practice Papers

  • Fluency
  • Mathematical Reasoning
  • Problem Solving
  • Progression
  • Reflection
  • Multiplicative Reasoning
  • Modelling
  • CPA – Concrete, Pictorial and Abstract
  • Relevance
  • Linking








This blog will explain each of these principles in greater details, including how they raise confidence and achievement and how they are the cornerstones of what we do at 11+ Practice Papers.

We offer a range of learning materials which are specifically designed to foster confidence, visualise concepts, improve understanding and reflect on learning and progress made.

Students who do not master a topic are not encouraged to continue regardless. We expect them to reflect on mistakes, re-learn concepts and redo questions or tests until they have mastered their specific area of difficulty.

Students who do master a specific topic area are not encouraged to simply do more of the same. They are challenged by enhancing the breadth and depth of their knowledge.


This is when we recall familiar mathematical facts automatically without much thought.

According to Psychologists the amount of brain power we have to apply to mathematics learning and problem solving is limited at any one time. This is why the instant retrieval of information and facts helps use release space in our brain to engage with the more challenging elements of a problem. Therefore, students who possess good mathematical fluency are very likely to achieve well in 11 plus mathematics test.

The new National Curriculum cites developing fluency as an important tool and asset in progressing students to access higher level mathematics.

Problem Solving

When students have to undertake multi-step thought processes and working out to tackle 11 plus questions, this is called 11 plus mathematics problem solving.

How problem-solving fosters confidence and enhances achievement in the 11 plus exam

Research suggests that when students are trained and taught techniques for 11 plus mathematics problem solving they develop a form of resilience and urge to ‘have a go’ at tasks. Through experiencing success, they acquire confidence in their own ability and become empowered to face unfamiliar problems in the 11 plus using such techniques that they have acquired. Consequently, these students are more likely to succeed in exams and future studies and jobs.

As a result, these students are better equipped to succeed in 11 plus tests and exams and consequently in future study and employment. It comes as no surprise that problem solving is a vital element of the curriculum in high performing countries.

The new National Curriculum cites problem solving as a central feature in progressing students to access higher level mathematics.

Mathematical Reasoning

When students apply logical thinking to solve 11 plus mathematics problems, this is classed as mathematical reasoning.

How reasoning fosters confidence and enhances achievement in the 11 plus exam

It is only when students can reason when solving 11 plus questions that they are demonstrating the power of understanding. Many students can often state and display what they can do in mathematics but struggle to reason. When students can explain a particular approach to solving 11 plus mathematics problems, why their approach may be better than another and how they came to their final answer, you can rest assured that are secure at reasoning.







It comes as no surprise that there is strong correlation between the 11 plus achievement of children and their ability to reason.

The new National Curriculum cites reasoning mathematically as a key feature in progressing students to access higher level mathematics.


It is vital that mathematical teaching for the 11 plus is done correctly. Work needs to be carefully planned and topics covered and revisited in a spiral curriculum which sees the same topics revisited throughout with each encounter increasing in complexity and reinforcing previous learning. This will ensure that students’ progression is scaffolded and secure through the entire 11 plus process.

How progression fosters confidence and enhances achievement in the 11 plus exam

Success in 11 plus mathematics is dependent on offering students just the ‘right’ amount of challenge, at just the ‘right’ moment. This means ensuring all the necessary prior knowledge, skills and understanding are in place, and gradually building to enable students to progress.

Research suggests that when students are made explicitly aware of this progression, not just topic-by-topic, but lesson-by-lesson, then their confidence and performance improves in the 11 plus exam.

Reflection (Metacognition)

This is when students ponder and deliberate about the mental strategies and processes involved when attempting to solve 11 plus exam questions.

How reflection fosters confidence and enhances achievement in the 11 plus exam

As they attempt 11 plus mathematics questions, if students reflect on what they are doing, how they are doing  it, and why they are taking a particular course of action, then they gain valuable insights  into the way that they learn. If, afterwards, they are also encouraged to consider the understanding they gained, what they found easy or difficult, the mistakes that they made and the merits of different approaches, they can confidently adjust how they do things in the future. Research demonstrates that students who regularly reflect in this manner demonstrate greater perseverance and success at solving mathematics problems in the 11 plus exam.

Multiplicative reasoning

This is when students use multiplication or division to compare values and work out one value when given the other. These usually arise from proportional situations and often involve the application of ratio, proportion, fractions, decimals and percentages.

How multiplicative reasoning fosters confidence and enhances achievement in the 11 plus exam

It is important for students to know if, when and why relationships are multiplicative is essential to the understanding of many 11 plus concepts, among them percentages, functions, proportion, ratio, area, volume and sequences. This is why multiplicative reasoning is an important element of the new National Curriculum for mathematics and plays an important part in progressing to higher level mathematics.

When students can see multiplicative connections in diagrams and bar models, it is believed by researchers to increase their confidence in mathematics. This also strengthens understanding as to what may be happening to one quantity as the other changes. It enables students to choose the correct calculations and solve mathematical and real world context problems in the 11 plus exam.


Mathematical modelling is the attempt to describe and understand a real world situation in mathematical terms.

How modelling fosters confidence and enhances achievement in the 11 plus exam

It is important to provide opportunities for students to model and obtain insights into real world scenarios. This has proven to have a positive motivational effect. There is further evidence to suggest that modelling deepens students’ understanding of key mathematical concepts when devising, testing and evaluating.  Not only will this improve students’ performance in the 11 plus exam, it will also improve their performance in other maths related fields and future careers.

The new National Curriculum cites modelling realistic situations as an important  feature in progressing students to access higher level mathematics.

Concrete–Pictorial–Abstract (CPA)

The learning of mathematics with objects, followed by pictures, then notation is called the CPA (Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract) approach.

How CPA fosters confidence and enhances achievement in the 11 plus exam

Students usually start with manipulating objects such as blocks, sticks and dice to make sense of mathematics. They then move on to representing this pictorially with diagrams, graphs, charts or bar models. Finally, they move onto the abstract ideas which are expressed as numbers, symbols and letters.

Students have benefited greatly in learning and extending their knowledge of 11 plus mathematics with the use of bar modelling. For parents, you can find an introduction of bar modelling on this YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0V5vg3Zxo5k

CPA is freely and readily used to teach mathematics in high performing countries. Research shows that it afford students space and time to develop their conceptual understanding which in turn leads to a much improved performance in the 11 plus test.


When students find learning and concept within mathematics and other subjects, then this is referred to as linking.

How linking fosters confidence and enhances achievement in the 11 plus exam

It is important for students to realise that mathematics is not isolated from other subjects. Research proves that when students find links between two concepts and subjects, their knowledge and understanding deepens and their progression advances. This is due to consolidating previous learnt concepts and applying them in new contexts. Consequently, as students confidence increases in mathematics, they are more willing to apply this learning and knowledge in unfamiliar contexts in other subjects such as Verbal and Non-Verbal reasoning. As a result their performance in the real 11 plus exam improves.















Progress with confidence with 11+ Practice Papers

Our innovative, well-researched and proven  11+ online tests and resources at www.11practicepapers.co.uk embeds evidence based approaches throughout to create confident and numerate students able to pass the real 11+ exam anywhere in the UK. We welcome you to visit and join our ever increasingly 11+ family.










An Overview of The 11 Plus Exam

Apr 04,2020

If you have children around the ages of 8, 9, or 10, you may have stumbled upon conversations about 11 plus exams; but what exactly are they? Well, the 11 plus exam is an entrance examination taken by some children in the United Kingdom as they approach the end of Primary School.  It is an exam taken in Year 6 to gain admission into selective grammar schools in the UK.

In the past, the 11 plus exam had to be sat by all year six students in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland to determine if they would be attending a grammar school or a secondary modern. With the advent of comprehensive schools that caters for children of all abilities, the use of 11 plus exams diminished in most areas. Despite this, the 11 plus exam is still readily used across the UK to establish which students gain entry in to the top performing grammar schools in the United Kingdom.

The purpose of the exam is to identify students with relatively high academic potential and offer them secondary education places in grammar schools alongside other of the same calibre. One of the objectives of 11 plus exams is to evaluate children based on a broad range of  intellectual abilities.

First, Let's Talk About The 11 Plus Exam

11 Plus Exam

The form the exam takes is generally dependent on the location of where it is being taken. It generally consists of 4 distinct areas, which are English, Maths, Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning. However, some counties examine children on all four elements, while others opt for three or only two of the elements listed.

 To be sure of what the 11 plus exam will entail in a particular region, you will need to speak to the respective schools admissions department who administer the exam. It is not unusual to see that English and Mathematics are the subjects most often dropped for the 11 plus exam. This is because the 11 plus exam was originally designed to help find naturally gifted students rather than the most academically minded.

11 Plus Exam Board

Basically, there are three different 11 plus exam boards, namely CEM, GL Assessment and CSSE. The CEM and GL Assessment are the two main exam boards that are used in virtually all regions where the 11+ is still in use. The CSSE exam is only taken by those children who wish to apply for one of the 10 Grammar schools in the consortium of selective schools in Essex.

CEM style of 11 plus exams

The CEM style of 11 plus exams typically consist of verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning and abstract (or non-verbal) reasoning. The exam may be multiple-choice, standard format or a mixture of the two. The exam is usually made up of two papers with a blend of separately timed numerical, verbal and abstract sections.

GL Assessment

On the other hand, the GL style of 11 plus exams consist of these four 11 plus papers: English GL Assessment, Mathematics GL Assessment, Verbal Reasoning GL Assessment, and Non-verbal Reasoning GL Assessment. The format of these papers do vary from region to region, along with the allocated time set for each respective paper.

CSSE 11+

Finally, the CSSE style of 11 plus exams usually consist of two tests which include English Language and Mathematics. The CSSE English test contains a creative writing section that lasts for around 60 minutes, with 10 minutes of reading time. The CSSE Mathematics paper lasts for 60 minutes in total. Each paper in English and Mathematics constitutes towards 50% of the total overall score.

What Does The Exam Test?

The 11 plus exams are usually made up of four sections and each section aims to test something unique in students. This is explained in greater detail below:

  • Verbal Reasoning

This paper tries to test the ability of students in solving word problems and their grasp of English grammar and vocabulary. This is done by presenting students with text and asking them to solve problems. The questions are about following sequences and solving problems that are associated with words and text. To pass this section of the exam, children will require a good grasp of English grammar and possess an extensive vocabulary. The best strategy to excel on this paper is to engage in plenty of verbal reasoning practice either through books or online. 11practicepapers.co.uk have some outstanding online timed 11 plus verbal reasoning tests for this.

  • Non-verbal Reasoning

This test examines how well students can solve pictorial problems. This is done by presenting students with pictures and diagrams and asking them to solve various problems that are associated with them. To pass this section, students will require high competence in spatial awareness and mathematical thinking.

  • Mathematics

This tests students’ mental mathematics, mathematical concept skills and how well they can solve multi-step problems under timed conditions. The paper examines all mathematical content learnt in Primary School and often beyond in Key Stage 3. The papers are sometimes compared to GCSE Foundation Level. To pass this section, students will require excellent mathematical skills, knowledge of core concepts and repetitive practice of 11 plus maths exam questions.

  • English

This paper tests the creative writing and comprehension skills of students. Students need to be able to plan, structure and write a piece of work in an engaging and compelling manner. The paper examines the National Curriculum in Primary School and often beyond into Key Stage 3. These papers are also compared as being equivalent to completing a GCSE Foundation Level paper. To pass this section, students need to possess excellent creative writing skills and knowledge of how to effectively and correctly answer comprehension questions.


When And Where Does The 11 Plus Examination Take Place?

It is very unlikely that children will sit the 11 plus exam in one of their classrooms at school. It is more than likely that they will be asked to take it at a central location such as a local grammar school.

The actual day of the 11 plus test differs from region to region. However, it often takes place early on in the autumn term in September. There is usually an opportunity to take the 11 plus test at a later date if your child is booked for an 11 plus test elsewhere or is unfortunate to encounter a close bereavement in the family.

11 Plus Exam For Independents Schools

There are many parents trying hard to get their children into both grammar schools and independent schools. The skills required at core level are very similar; a child that can do well in the grammar school tests is sure to do well in the tests for independent schools. Independent school tests are generally regarded as being easier.

With that being said, the 11 plus exam for independent schools can tend to be a little different than that of grammar schools. So it is advisable to visit the independent school websites to get an flavour of to how different it actually is and how to best prepare your child in the correct manner.

Does Your Child Have To Take The 11 Plus Exam?

No, the 11 plus exam is not a compulsory exam for all Year 6 students in the United Kingdom. It is entirely up to you to decide if you want to submit an application to a grammar school or an independent school for your child.

There may be cases which exist in some regions whereby if your child attends a Local Authority Primary School in a county or metropolitan borough that still has grammar schools, they will be automatically registered for the 11 plus exam. In this case, you may have to opt-out if you do not want your child to sit the 11+ exam.

Which Children Should Take The 11 Plus Exam?

In the United Kingdom, there are state grammar schools that cater for the most academic students in a particular county. Therefore, any child considering going for the 11 plus exam has to be academically very bright. If you want your child to participate in any grammar school entrance exams this year, they must take and pass the 11 plus exam 2020.

How Do You Know If The 11 Plus Is Right For Your Child?

The 11 plus exam is administered to identify the most academically-able children to gain entry into grammar schools or independent schools.

If you want to be confident in knowing if a grammar school is the right pick for your child, you may need to consider the following questions.

  • Is your child academically gifted?
  • Does your child have results that are above average in their SATs, CATs, PIEs, PIMSs, or whatever system your child’s primary School uses?
  • Does your child’s teacher think your child has what it takes to pass to the exam?
  • Are your child’s school reports always above average?

Schools That Use The 11 Plus Exam

There are now around 164 Grammar Schools remaining in England that use the 11 plus exam for selecting students. The 11 plus exam was officially discontinued in Northern Ireland in 2008. Despite this, there are still several ex grammar schools that are using the 11 plus exam to select children by ability. This move has, however, created considerable political controversy.

Independent schools also adopt the use of 11 plus exams as a mode of testing to decide which students to admit. This is quite the norm for most independent schools in the country.

Counties That Still Use The 11 Plus

The 11 plus exam is still being used in the following counties that have state-funded grammar schools. In alphabetical order, they include Berkshire, Bexley, Birmingham, Buckinghamshire, Cumbria, Devon, Dorset, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Medway, Shropshire, Trafford, Wiltshire, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wirral, Wolverhampton and Yorkshire.

What Score Do You Need To Pass The 11 Plus Exam?

There is no straightforward answer to this question. However, it is somewhat simpler for grammar schools because each region has its own pass mark. The pass mark is standardised, depending on various factors. These factors include the age of the child and the difficulty of the paper. Having said that, the approximate pass mark for grammar schools is generally between 75 and 85 percent.

For independent schools, their pass mark is dependent on school policy. Some schools don’t always base entry purely on an 11 plus mark. They consider other things. Furthermore, the school governs itself, they often look at things such as academic potential, the way the child might fit into the school and potential cohort.

Most schools, however, have very high pass marks. Therefore, if you want your child to obtain a pass mark for this year, you must start your 11+ prep for 2020 as soon as possible. Passing the 11+ exam is often stressful and daunting; that is why it is advisable to complete as many 11 plus practice papers as possible during preparation.

When Do The Results Of The 11 Plus Exam Come Out?

Most schools often release the results of the 11 plus examinations in mid-October. This affords parents ample time to make formal applications or in the case of where a child has not done well, make an appeal. The grammar schools have created a process for appeals while the appeals decision for independent schools is discretionary.

The exam results are also released at this time as it is thought of being the fairest way of handing results to parents and alleviating the stress of waiting around for their child’s outcome; this enables parents to plan effectively for their child’s future.

It also takes into account the fact that some children could almost be a year younger than others when they take the test. For instance, a child born on August 31st this year could be at a disadvantage to a child born on September 1st the year before.

This is why if two children with a year age difference obtain the same raw score in their test, the final score of the youngest will be higher than the final score of the oldest to make up for their age difference.

Competition in The 11 Plus Exam

Competition in The 11 Plus Exam

The competition for 11+ entry varies from region to region, depending on provision and demand. In some areas, there might be ten or twenty times the applicants as there are available places, in other areas, there may be available places that are twice as many as the number of applicants.

In most regions, it is safe to say that competition is rife, so parents naturally try and give their children an extra edge by preparing them for the exam in some way or another. The preparation to gain an edge, however, ranges from doing practice papers before the real exam or going through a full course involving tutors and tuition centres.

To Wrap It Up

If you are considering sending your child to a grammar school or an independent school, then this article will provide you with a surface level understanding and overview of all you need to know about the 11 plus exam system.

If you require further information or require outstanding 11 plus test practice for your child, you can visit 11practicepapers.co.uk. They have some of the best 11 plus exam resources and online test practice available on the 11 plus market.