What is 11PLUS?

Understanding the 11Plus process is vital for success. A lot of parents do not fully understand the aim of the 11PLUS exam, what it entails and how their children can excel in it. This article aims to demystify the 11Plus process and help parents and carers make the best choices for their children.


1. What is the 11Plus?

The 11 Plus, also known as 11+, is an examination which students take in their last year of primary school to gain entry into a grammar school of their choice. The examination can test all or some of the following components: Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning, Mathematics and English. Find out what the 11 Plus content is for your area, as it varies from area to area and year to year .

2. Preparing your child

Year 5

The beginning of Year 5 is the good time to begin preparing your child for sitting the 11Plus. However it is also advisable to start preparing your child even from as early as Year 3 to know the basics in all the 11 Plus subjects. Having a wide vocabulary and sound mental maths are important factors in 11 Plus success. When you know which of the four areas will be tested in your area, you can determine the best support strategies for your child. Children need to be grammar school standard to be successful in the 11 Plus. Strategies to help your child include employing a tutor, taking mock exams and completing practice 11 Plus exams.


Last Minute Preparation

Firstly, don’t panic. Research that grammar schools are going to be testing in your area and determine your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Focus on improving your child’s weaknesses. Access practice papers so your child is familiar with the test format and has an opportunity to practice under timed conditions. Make sure they know their times tables off by heart and practice vocabulary. Teach them strategies for answering Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning questions.


3. Support materials

Regardless of what tests are run in your area there are some support materials that all children sitting the 11 Plus will benefit from. These are:

 A “How to” Guide for Verbal and/or Non-Verbal Reasoning

 A dictionary

 A thesaurus 

 A clock to time themselves on practice papers

 Workbooks to complete practice papers

 Practice papers


4. The Test

 Ensure your child has an early night before and a meal of complex carbohydrates before the test. 

 Allow enough time to arrive at the test venue without rushing.

 Find out whether writing materials will be provided and if not make sure your child has the recommended pencils and an eraser and that pencils are sharpened. 

 Make sure your child has any personal requirements such as an inhaler for asthma, glasses for reading.

 Be sure that your child has their own watch. Some schools allow children to take a break between tests and it is up to the child to track the time of the break and be back ready for the next test.

 Encourage your child to do their best and to try to stay focused, ignoring distractions in the room.

 Explain to your child that if they become too ill to continue with the test, they need to speak to the invigilator.


6. Sickness

 There are reserve dates to resit a test if your child is unwell.

 It is vital that your child does not sit the test if they are unwell. If they are too sick to take the test, notify the school and take them to your GP and get a medical certificate.


7. Exam Results

Each region sets different pass marks for the 11 Plus and it can change from year to year depending on the number of school places available.

If your child is taking the 11PLUS this year, we wish you the best of luck. If you have any queries or comments, leave a message below. Don’t forget to join the community for more updates and guidance too.