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What is the 11 Plus Exam?

Secondary school selection (The eleven plus test. 11+)

The Eleven plus test is a test given to pupils in their last year of primary school (year 6 in England and year 7 in Northern Ireland) and is used as a means to determine whether that pupil is suited to the academic rigours of a grammar school education. In other words will he/she be offered a place in the grammar school of their parent's choice? Since the early 1970s many areas of the United Kingdom have not used the Eleven plus exam and have favoured a comprehensive education system that is non-selective. However, there are still a considerable number of Local Authorities (LAs), Foundation Schools, independent schools and private schools that still admits pupils based on selection by the test known as the Elevenplus exam, usually at age 11. Most of these LAs and some of these schools use 11 plus test papers prepared by NFER. The 11plus exam is used extensively in Bucks, Kent and Essex.

What Sort of Eleven Plus Test Will My Child Have to Take?

This will vary from LA to LA and from grammar school to grammar school. The eleven plus exam papers will be based on some or all of the following types of questions and it may involve sitting two or even three eleven plus examinations. Sometimes the tests will be of a different kind, e.g. a non-verbal reasoning and a verbal reasoning test and in other cases the tests will be the same e.g. two verbal reasoning tests.

  • Verbal Reasoning test
  • Non-verbal reasoning tests
  • Mathematics tests
  • English tests

Verbal Reasoning eleven plus tests

This involves the child thinking about words and text and solving problems, sequences etc. It requires the pupil to have a good grasp of English grammar and a wide vocabulary. Most schools and LAs administer at least one verbal reasoning test.

Non-verbal Reasoning eleven plus tests

Many LAs and independent schools also use non-verbal reasoning tests. This involves the child thinking about pictures and diagrams, and solving problems based on these items, it also makes demands on the child's mathematical capabilities. However it makes less demand on the understanding of written language.

Mathematics and English eleven plus tests

These are used by some LAs and schools, but not to the same extent as verbal reasoning tests and non-verbal reasoning tests. However where they are used you can expect the requirements to be quite high.

Learning Together provide suitable practice material in all these subject areas.

Who sets the eleven plus exam?

Many of the 11plus tests used by grammar schools or LAs are produced by NFER and they have comprehensive information on their website. The 11 plus papers come in two formats:

Traditional format
Where your child writes the answers in a space on the eleven plus test paper.
Multiple choice format
In this type of 11 plus test your child marks their answer on a separate score sheet by putting a line against the correct answer. This in itself is a difficult task and is akin to Non-verbal reasoning. This type of answer format is to accommodate marking using a computer optical reading machine. (many teachers call these multiple guess papers)

Eleven plus exam administration

The LAs or the schools themselves usually carry out all eleven plus exam administration. Visit What areas still have Eleven Plus Exams? for details in each LA or selective area.


What is the Elevenplus Exam?

Some facts on the Elevenplus exam reference to grammar schools, private schools, what is demanded, info. on Verbal reasoning, Non-verbal reasoning etc.

What Areas Still have 11 Plus Exam?

To assist you find your chosen grammar school or area using school grammar school selection tests we have arranged the information into regions.

How to Prepare for the  Eleven Plus Exam.

Some thoughts on how to prepare, parental support, what the school might/might not do, online learning etc.

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