A Parent’s Guide to the 11 Plus Exam
The 11 Plus (or 11+) exam—if your child is approaching or in Year 4 or 5 of primary school, you are likely familiar with this grammar school staple. If you'd like your child to attend grammar school or certain independent schools in England, note these facts about the important exam.
What is the 11 Plus exam?
The 11 Plus is an exam that is designed to identify the most academically able students for grammar school admittance. It consists of four general areas (English, Maths, Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning), but the exact configuration differs throughout the country.
Two exam boards provide the 11 Plus: GL Assessment and CEM. Depending on your intended grammar school, your child will take one or the other. Your child may also need to take additional tests set by the school. Students who do well and who are offered a place in grammar school begin at their new school in Year 7.
Once you find out which test your student will take, determine which subjects are assessed, as they differ from CEM to the GL Assessment.
Who takes the 11 Plus exam?
The 11 Plus exam is for students in their last year of primary school. It is not a compulsory exam for all grammar school students. While the name of the exam is derived from the age at which students will enter grammar school, they will usually be 10 years old when they take it. Be aware that in some areas, students will automatically be entered for the 11 Plus, so if you'd like to opt out, you'll have to do that yourself.
When will my child take the 11 Plus exam?
Students will generally take the 11 Plus at the beginning of Year 6.
What is the timeline for ideal 11 Plus preparation?
Most families will decide in Year 4 if grammar school is an option. In Year 4, you can begin to introduce exam skills like taking a timed test and further develop core subject knowledge.
As Year 5 begins, go on grammar school visits with your child to gauge what you and your child are looking for. This is when you'll also want to create a study plan and enlist any necessary additional resources.
How can my child best prepare for the 11 Plus exam?
In order to create the most effective preparatory plan, first determine which version of the 11 Plus your child will take. Verify this with your specific schools. Familiarise yourself and your child with the content, structure, and length of the exam. Next, gauge your child's strengths and weaknesses, and be certain to practice under test-like conditions.
As with many exams, you may wish to consider an 11 Plus tutor, who can help you maximise your child's performance on this test and provide guidance as you navigate the complex grammar school admittance process. Aside from the more targeted strategies referenced above, you can also encourage your child to read widely and to employ the use of vocabulary in daily conversations.