Eleven Plus & Grammar Schools

About the Eleven Plus exam

The Eleven Plus is a voluntary exam testing reasoning, language and mathematics, taken by pupils in the last year of primary education in England. The results are used to allocate places for schools with a selective entry policy: Grammar, Bilateral and Partially Selective Schools.

The Eleven Plus is voluntary, but local authorities differ as to how it is applied. Some enter all pupils unless they opt out, while others require pupils to opt in. The pass mark, which varies from county to county, is used to determine whether a child is offered a place at a selective school.

Which locations offer the Eleven Plus?

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There are 164 grammar schools in England, and all use a form of the Eleven Plus exam. Two other types of selective school, Bilateral Schools and Partially Selective Schools, also use versions of the exam. Each of these areas uses a different exam. Most include a mathematics paper as part of the exam, although this is not universal. The highest concentration of grammar schools in England is in Kent, while Lincolnshire is the largest area offering the Eleven Plus.

What’s in the Eleven Plus exam?

The test varies from area to area, but is generally based on verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, English and mathematics. The maths section of the exam tests on material taught in Key Stage 2, so your child should be confident with curriculum maths. The exam may also touch on material covered during Key Stage 3, so it is a good idea for a child to be introduced to some of these concepts by a maths tutor.

Specific skills that are likely to crop up include addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, and more advanced problems such as decimals, fractions, prime numbers, prime factors, algebra, probability, averages, graphs and percentages. These are just a selection of the areas that may be covered – our maths tutors are familiar with all maths skills covered in Key Stages 2 and 3.

Some 11+ maths papers, generally those for entrance to independent schools, phrase maths questions verbally, while others, often in the state sector, use questions in the form of sums and numerals.

How to prepare your child for the Eleven Plus exam

Preparing for the 11+ exam can be a stressful time for parents and children – competition is fierce, and the exam may include areas your child has not spent much time on in school. But you can improve your child’s chances with some preparation and research.

What we offer

Find out about the contents of the test in your area, and the latest admissions policies for the schools you are targeting. Both the contents of the test and the timings of when it takes place can change.

Keep stress levels down by maintaining a balanced view of the outcome of the test, and by providing as much help and support as possible.

Make sure your child is comfortable with Key Stage 2 maths, and has some familiarity with Key Stage 3 skills, which may also crop up.

A tutor can give one-on-one tailored help that may not be available in school, reinforcing areas your child is weakest on and boosting confidence with some of the more challenging elements of the 11+.

Simple maths such as multiplication tables are as important in the 11+ as more advanced operations, so practice with your child whenever possible.