11 Plus Resources
An 11+ Guide
If you’ve arrived here, you're probably thinking about entering your child for the eleven plus exam. No doubt you’ll have lots of questions about the exam and how best to help your child prepare. As a tutor who has successfully prepared many students for this exam let me answer some of those questions for you.
Why should I consider entering my child for the eleven plus?
Every parent wants the best opportunities and future for their child. Selective and independent schools offer an educational standard and a more academic emphasis that is not often found in other non-selective schools. Students who attend a selective school are statistically more likely to obtain entrance into Oxford or Cambridge University or to attend a Russell Group university.
If a child is naturally academically bright, it makes sense for that child to be in an environment where academic achievement is encouraged and nurtured by teachers and to be surrounded by peers with similar aspirations. If your child fits the description of being naturally academic, with an inquisitive and enquiring mind, coupled with self-motivation and discipline, then consider the local grammar school as an ideal option for your child’s secondary education.
What is the eleven plus?
The eleven plus is an entrance exam used by independent and grammar schools to select students based on academic aptitude.
What is the format of the eleven plus exam?
The format of the eleven plus test will depend on which examination board the grammar or independent school uses. If you are considering applying to The King’s School, Grantham and Kesteven and Grantham Girls School (KGGS) then the current format of the exam is as follows:
There are two papers. (Both of which are multiple choice.) The papers are marked electronically, so it is important that your child makes sure that the answer they choose is clearly marked.
The first paper is verbal reasoning and contains 80 questions and lasts for 50 minutes. The student may answer the questions in any order and may go back and change answers.
The second paper is non-verbal reasoning and contains 70 questions and lasts for 40 minutes.
Paper 2 is administered one week after the verbal reasoning paper.
The non-verbal paper comprises 5 sections. Each section contains 12 questions.
Candidates have 6 minutes to complete each section.
Candidates may only complete a section when instructed to do so.
Candidates may NOT go back to any previous sections once the time allotted for those sections has finished.
Two of the sections will focus on spatial awareness.
Both The King’s School and Kesteven and Grantham Girl’s School use GL exams board. To download free practise papers, click on the link: https://www.gl-assessment.co.uk/free-familiarisation
If you wish to purchase practise papers for your child, then you can find GL practise papers in stores and online. Please ensure that you purchase the right format for the school you intend to apply for.
When do candidates sit the eleven plus?
Candidates sit both the verbal and the non-verbal reasoning papers in September of Year 6. Candidates sit the verbal reasoning first, followed by the non-verbal reasoning paper a week later. Please check with the school you intend to apply for regarding key dates and details of the 11 plus process.
Why do schools use verbal and non-verbal reasoning papers to assess aptitude?
These tests are used because they eliminate or minimize “curriculum bias”. Some argue that any child suitable for selective secondary education should be able to perform well, regardless of the quality of teaching they have received during their primary education. The tests assess how successfully and quickly a child can understand, analyse and solve different problems.
How are the papers scored?
Both papers are equally weighted. Each paper has a maximum score of 141. The child’s age in years and months at the time of sitting the exams is taken into account. The raw score is standardised. The conversion of the raw score into a standardised score is complex and takes into account various relevant factors. It is not possible to state what raw score qualifies as a pass because the number of correct answers required for a pass is determined on a yearly basis by a third party once all eleven plus exam papers have been completed for all schools. The current pass mark is a standardised score of 220.
Can my child resit the exam if they do not achieve a score of 220?
No. However, you can appeal if you have listed the grammar school as your preferred school. If you are unsuccessful in your appeal, it may be possible for your child to take the 12+ or the 13+ at the appropriate time. You should contact the prospective school to see if they offer this option.
Does achieving a score of 220 guarantee my child a place at the grammar school?
No. If more children pass the eleven plus than there are places available at the school they have applied for, then other factors are considered. This may or may not include the distance from the child’s home to the preferred school, if any siblings are already at the school and the final standardised score. It is advised that parents/carers check the school’s website to determine their specific policy regarding admissions criteria.
Will my child practise for the eleven plus at school?
Not necessarily. I advise you to consult with your child’s school regarding practice tests, etc.
Can a child learn strategies that might improve their chances of success in the tests?
Yes. There are specific strategies that your child can learn that increase the chances that they will identify the correct answer.
Should I hire an eleven plus tutor?
Some parents find it difficult to explain how to approach eleven plus questions. Other parents find that trying to teach their own child causes relationship issues to arise. An experienced and skilled eleven plus tutor will teach your child a systematic approach to each question type, help identify any gaps in underpinning knowledge that needs addressing and help them develop time management techniques and exam skills.
What should I look for in a good tutor?
- A good tutor should have knowledge and experience of the wide range of question types that might appear on the papers and be able to develop a good rapport with your child.
- Ask if you can observe the first lesson. A tutor worth hiring should be comfortable observed working. When observing, watch the interaction between the tutor and your child. Does the tutor encourage your child to ask questions or to say when they do not understand? Do they smile and give praise when appropriate? Does your child seem relaxed?
- The ability to answer the questions within the time frame permitted cannot be guaranteed by a good tutor. They should explain that speed is likely to improve with a good understanding of how to approach each question type and with consistent practise.
- Ask the tutor if they will give honest feedback regarding your child’s suitability for the eleven plus after the first session or the first couple of lessons. A good tutor will say if your child is a good candidate for the eleven plus exam.
- Be wary of tutors that promise a 100% pass rate. No tutor can predict or be sure of how a student will perform on the day.
- A good tutor will place the emotional, academic, psychological and physical wellbeing of the child foremost. They should observe and take careful note of how your child feels about the eleven plus and the academic standard expected of them in a grammar school. If your child shows anxiety and distress, a professional tutor will draw your attention to the issue and advise action based on the best interests of the child.