11 Plus FAQ

eleven plus practice papers frequently asked questions - check here for any questions you haveThese are Frequently Asked Questions about the whole 11 Plus Exam process.

If you have a query that is not covered in this FAQ, please go to the 11 Plus Forum to post your question there and one of our helpful 11+ Partners will do their best to get back to you.

You can jump to a particular FAQ question using the links below.

About the exam

What is the 11 plus Exam?

The 11 plus or Eleven Plus is an exam taken by students in their final year of primary school (year 6) and is used to select students for admission into UK Grammar Schools.

Which subjects will be tested? 

Eleven Plus Exams differ in each county and sometimes from school to school, however they usually include one or more of the following subjects:

  • English (Comprehension, Grammar, Writing)

  • Verbal Reasoning (VR)

  • Numerical Reasoning (Maths)

  • Non-Verbal Reasoning (NVR)

The question types/topics tested in each subject can also vary depending on which exam publisher sets the papers or by region, but there is huge cross-over since the same core skills are generally being tested, albeit in slightly different styles.

For example, you might have heard it mentioned that CEM tests (prepared by Durham Uni) are ‘resistant to prepping’. The premise behind this is that they aim to minimise the number of questions which might have a simple technique (easily taught) to answer them PLUS they intend to vary their questions by not having a set bank of question formats to which their papers are limited. Therefore CEM exams have a clear focus on vocabulary and comprehension, as opposed to including basic arithmetic or code logic questions in their verbal reasoning sections as GL assessment exams tend to do. However, CEM exams do test many of the same numerical and logic skills in their numerical reasoning and non-verbal sections.

Where can I find out more about the eleven plus exam in my region? 

11plus.co.uk endeavours to provide as much info as possible, however it is always best to verify the latest information about the eleven plus exams or selective tests that your child will have to sit with one or more of the following…

11 plus exams frequently asked questions list

It is advisable to establish the following information (or as much as you can) about your child’s 11+ exam:

  • Subjects tested

  • Test Publisher (e.g. GL Assessment, Moray House, Uni of Durham CEM, Local School Consortium, etc. )

  • Exam Dates

  • Format of each exam

    • multiple-choice or standard format

    • number of questions

    • time allowed

    • computer based or on paper

The format of the exam does not greatly affect the preparation that needs to be done for each subject. It is most important initially that your child understands the topics and develops the skills required to answer the questions. However, it is beneficial to establish the format of the tests (where possible) so that you can ensure your child also has a chance to become comfortable with the style of answering questions that will be expected of them.

 

Preparing for the exam

To tutor or not to tutor?

Since competition for grammar school places is so fierce, your child will more than likely need some form of tuition to reach the required standard for success in the 11 Plus Exams.

Many parents are  preparing their children anywhere from a few weeks to a few years prior to the actual Eleven Plus Exams, therefore the required standard is high. At the end of the day, there are only a set number of Grammar School places, so your child’s result will need to be in the top so many percent to ensure their position. To achieve this, your child has to have good core skills and be well practised in all of the types of questions found in Eleven Plus Exam papers.

So to answer the question of whether to tutor or not…

This depends on you and your child.

11-plus-tuition for your children

If you have a good working relationship with your child and are prepared to dedicate some time to understand what is expected of your child in the 11 plus exams and the methods to tackle the different question types yourself, a private tutor is not necessary. There are many useful 11 plus resources (guidance for parents, tutorials, practice papers, games and more) available for free on 11plus.co.uk as well as other resources available to purchase. Chuckra Educational’s practice materials have been developed as a result of many years preparing children for the Eleven Plus Exams and aim to help both tutors and parents make preparation simple and fun.

If you find you do not work that well with your child or realistically do not have the time to dedicate to the task, you might want to consider private tuition to help your child prepare for the Eleven Plus Exams. Many students receive private tuition either in group classes or on a one-to-one basis. A good tutor can be invaluable as they can quickly evaluate your child’s strengths and weaknesses. In addition to this, some children respond better to a non-family member. Please bear in mind that even if your child attends tuition of one form or another, it is likely that you will still be expected to have some involvement in your child’s preparation. You will just have more guidance along the way and someone else to set the work, leaving your role as a loving parent, not a strict teacher, intact. 

So you are considering the DIY (do-it-yourself) approach – where to begin?

The FAQ How to prepare for 11 Plus Exams will be the best place for you to gain a clearer understanding of what level of commitment is needed from you and your child.

So you have decided that making use of a tuition service might be the best route for your child, now what?

To search for tutors in your area, go to the 11 Plus Tutor Directory.

Whether you decide to do-it-yourself or find a good tutor, you should consider giving your child the opportunity to experience the exam room before the big day.

Find Official Chuckra Mock Test Centres in your area – open to anyone wishing to complete specially written 11+ mock papers in exam conditions.

 How to prepare for Grammar School Entrance Exams

Entrance test papers, such as those for eleven plus exams, are designed with ‘students who have not done any preparation’ in mind. Therefore the test papers have clear instructions and example questions (as well as even a few practice questions) to ensure all students understand how the test will be timed and how to complete the answer sheet.

It is therefore important that a child preparing for success in any 11 plus exam (selective test) should:

  • Have strong core skills in English (incl. a large vocabulary), maths (incl. speedy arithmetic) and reasoning (verbal, non-verbal & numerical).
  • Be comfortable to read and/or listen to instructions carefully, as well as look at example questions, to understand what is being asked of them no matter what the format or layout of the question is – since they may be required to answer question types which they have or have not seen before.
  • Manage their time effectively in an exam of any length.
  • Stay calm and focussed under exam conditions, while working speedily and accurately.

So being prepared for variety and to think about what is being presented is more important than preparing for an exact question format.

Preparation for 11 plus exams can be broken down into these stages for each exam subject:

  • Assess current ability
  • Enhance Core Skills
  • Master the Subject
  • Boost Exam Performance

Chuckra’s Online Testing (COAsT and QuestionmiX) has been designed to help with all of the above stages of preparation and can be used as a full program of preparation or alongside other 11+ resources to complement another study plan.

11 plus student resources listThe pool of practice resources for 11 plus preparation is continually growing however it is not necessary to work through absolutely everything to be well prepared. We have therefore put together guidance on recommended resources which complement all of the free resources for each subject, incorporating a good selection of publishers’ practice tests for the ‘Boost Exam Performance’ stage.

The most widely used exam publishers for 11 plus exams in the UK are: GL Assessment or CEM (Uni of Durham). Some other publishers: Moray House or Local Consortiums (such as CSSE – Consortium of Selective Schools in Essex).  

Many 11 plus exams are set by CEM or other publishers who do not release past papers or sample papers for practice. GL Assessment does provide some sample papers which can be bought, but even these do not contain all the types of questions they might possibly include seeing that in some areas new question types have started to be introduced in to GL Assessment papers to make the exams more ‘tutor proof’. However  Although the exam structure and question types may differ, preparation does not differ greatly since the core skills being tested are generally similar.

We always recommend doing rounded preparation (which includes enhancing core skills) as this not only prepares a child well for the 11 plus exam, but also for the future in whichever secondary school they attend.

Tips on how to prepare for each of the eleven plus subjects

 

Which Practice Materials are for Free?

Online Tests – COAsT and QuestionmiX

  • Initial Assessment Tests for all subjects are available in COAsT for free.
    These tests allow you to assess your student’s abilities and shows which areas of each subject they need to work on most. COAsT allows you to review your student’s answers and assess your their abilities compared to other children taking the assessment tests. These tests will help to give you direction in choosing tests for your student, as well as providing information which COAsT uses to suggest tests for your student.
  • Sample questions on QuestionmiX.com
    An opportunity to try a range of questions across all 11 plus subjects.

Printable Resources

Free printable 11+ practice materials can be downloaded from our Online Shop, including:

  • Study aids
  • Worksheets
  • Practice tests

Knowledgebase

Free guidance and how-to videos to help prepare for specific 11 plus exam subject topics can be found in our Knowledgebase.

 

About the exam results

What is the 11 plus pass mark?

The pass mark is different in each LEA (Local Education Authority) and may vary from year to year. This is because there are only a set number of Grammar School places available, so the number of students passing each year needs to remain in line with the number of places available.

You will be given your child’s Standardised Score (usually between 69 or 70 and 140 or 141) i.e not your child’s Raw Score (the number of questions your child got correct on the test).

In some counties, where the eleven plus exam consists of more than one subject, the standardised scores are then weighted to give a final overall score.

You will need to establish the standardised pass mark and weighting for your own region, but to give you an example, the pass mark in Bucks has been 121 in previous years. 

Is my child on track to pass?

Realistically, there is no foolproof way of assessing whether your child will or will not be successful in their 11 Plus Exam. This is dependent on so many factors, not to mention nerves on exam day (in many cases, worsened by parental pressure).

However, there are ways to gain a better understanding of your child’s current ability to help you decide whether they are suited to working at the pace required in a Grammar School Environment and their likelihood of passing the 11 plus exam. Understanding their current strengths and weaknesses will also indicate which areas to work on to help your child, in any case, at this point in their school career.

Find out how to assess your child – the first step when preparing for any 11 plus exam subject.

11 plus family learning togetherTo give you a rough guideline for practice papers, your child should be aiming to score 90% (or more) consistently on practice papers by the time they are nearing their exam.

Practice papers do vary in difficulty though, which is why the analysis tools in COAsT are a great way to see how your child is doing in comparison to everyone else doing the same practice tests.

As a guideline, a percentile rank per test of 85 or more indicates a likely pass. This means your child is in the top 15% of all the children taking that particular practice test.

What is standardisation?

Standardisation is the process by which a raw score is mathematically adjusted to be on a readily understandable scale. This allows standardised scores from more than one test to be meaningfully compared or added together to give a fair indication of how well your child scored compared to everyone else taking the test and provides a way of comparing the scores for the different subjects using the same scale.

The lowest score is usually 69 or 70 and the highest score 140 or 141.

Two of the main adjustments applied in the standardisation process take the student’s age and difficulty of the actual test paper into account. Therefore, your child’s score may actually go up or down depending on how well they do in comparison to everyone else taking the test in the same year.

The adjustments for age generally only affect a student’s score by a few marks, so it does not help to rely on the fact that your child is young to bump up their final score significantly.

However, it is important for your child to realise that if the test paper seems really easy, working as accurately as possible to avoid careless errors is essential as it is likely the scores will be adjusted downwards if the test is easy. Likewise, if the test paper seems really tricky,  no need to panic, as it is very likely that everyone is finding it tricky so the scores are likely to be adjusted upwards.

Due to the adjustments, many of our previous students have ended up getting their higher result on what they felt was the harder paper because the results got adjusted as has just been explained.

mum-needs-helpThe Appeals Process

If your child is not successful in their 11 plus exam, it is possible to appeal.

Learn more in this Successful 11 Plus Appeal Interview

There are also plenty of books with guidance on how to approach an appeal.

One we can recommend is the AE Grammar School Appeals Handbook…

11 plus appeals handbook linkThis book is for parents whose children have not been successful in the 11+ examination and wish to prepare an appeal. The handbook gives parents practical advice gained over many years and helps them with the composition and presentation of their written appeal. By using the format outlined in this book, many parents have won their appeal and their child has gained admission into a grammar school.

Available in the Chuckra Online Store.

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