Understanding 11+ Exams

Parents aware that grammar and private schools, renowned for superior GCSE and A Level results when compared to other secondary educators, are increasingly enrolling their children in Eleven Plus exam (or 11+) programmes so their children will ace the entrance exams for these exclusive schools. The strict admissions policies of the top schools are based on academic ability so the 11+ exam is crucial for those who want their child to get a place. The 11+ exam is usually taken in the first term of Year 6 in primary school for Grammar schools however some independent schools have exams in the early Spring term, with the results published in early March. Most exams will then be followed up with an interview to select the children with the best overall ability and foundation of knowledge. A reason for this selection process is to establish the child’s ability to cope with the demanding academic schedule of the grammar and independent school and hence the very good results achieved by these schools. Below is a graph showing the results our students have attained when going through this highly competitive process.

11+ Results Graph

Click on graph to enlarge view

The 11plus exam are based on a variety of the following types of questions and usually involve between 2 to 4 examinations.

Verbal Reasoning

This tests children’s problem solving skills, speed, and accuracy. It sees how effectively they can process information. This involves understanding words and text clearly to solve problems, find sequences, and find the odd word out. It therefore requires the child to have a good grasp of English grammar and a wide vocabulary. Nearly all schools and many Local Authorities administer at least one Verbal Reasoning test as part of their 11plus tests. However this is not covered under the national curriculum.

Non-verbal Reasoning

Often see as a neutral way of testing a child’s knowledge and skill it looks at thinking logically and recognising patterns. This involves the child processing graphic or pictorial information, using maths skills such as rotation, reflection and symmetry and working systematically through a problem. There are different formats some standard others multiple choice. It is also not taught as part of the national curriculum.

Mathematics and English

These are used by some Local Authorities and schools, but not to the same extent as Verbal Reasoning tests and Non-Verbal Reasoning tests. However, where they are used, the standards are high. Yet without a strong foundation in Maths and English children often struggle to pass the 11+ exam which can be based on extensive knowledge of both subjects.

The number of students applying for such exclusive schools increases every year, so the demand for places is becoming more and more competitive. It is advised that parents start preparing their children for the exams at least 18 months beforehand to keep the learning curve incremental. This allows for a slow and steady improvement and a thorough basis for the exams. Leaving your child to pick up all the vital information in a short time, though possible, can sometimes overwhelm and pressure young children. With sufficient time to meet the exacting standards required in the entrance exams our students are not only fully prepared but confident and at ease.

Our 11+ programme begins in Year 4 (11plus Foundation) taking students through to Year 6 when they have that all important exam. However, most parents introduce their children to the 11+ earlier then this as we begin our teaching from as young as Year 1. The more preparation our students have the better they do at the end. Our dedicated teachers have many years of experience in helping students to prepare for these exams. Our results speak for themselves and are brought about by our passion to see your child successfully gain a place at their school of choice. Our success is due to our understanding of school requirements. We produce and change materials based on the changes of the 11+ exam as we are committed to ensuring your child’s success. With our vast bank of resources and papers comprising of both external and bespoke papers we are an invaluable resource for any parent that wants their child to pass the 11+ exam.

Children living in the Harrow, Wembley, Ealing, Barnet and surrounding areas are very fortunate that they have access to some of the best schools in the country. One way we prepare them for success is through our Mock Exam days which help children overcome their nerves, see the errors they are making and learn from them. It also helps them to see how to answer questions in a time sensitive environment. Our section on Mock Exams outlines the upcoming dates in London.