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What you need to know about the 11 Plus exam.

What exactly is the 11 Plus Exam?

The 11 Plus Exam, a standardized test for primary school students in the UK, serves as an assessment of their academic ability and plays a pivotal role in determining their eligibility for selective grammar and independent schools. This comprehensive examination comprises verbal and non-verbal reasoning, as well as English and math papers. The assessment incorporates a mix of multiple-choice and open-ended questions to evaluate students across various dimensions.

History of the 11 Plus exam in the UK.

The Eleven Plus exam, or 11 Plus exam, was implemented in the UK in 1944 under the Education Act following World War II. This exam sought to assess students’ academic potential and determine eligibility for admission to grammar schools. Its primary goal was to identify high-achieving students and provide them with access to a more demanding and enriching educational experience.

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Over the years, the 11 Plus exam has undergone several changes and revisions. In the 1960s, for example, the exam was modified to include a broader range of subjects, such as science and math. In the 1970s, the exam was abolished in some parts of the UK due to concerns about its fairness and impact on students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Despite these changes, the 11 Plus exam has been a subject of ongoing discussion and debate in the UK. While some acknowledge concerns about potential disadvantages for students from specific backgrounds, others emphasize the valuable opportunity it provides for bright students to access a high-quality education. It is evident that the 11 Plus exam has played a significant role in shaping the history of education in the UK and will continue to stimulate meaningful conversations and considerations for the future.

Exam Boards and Regions

GL Assessment

GL Assessment is an exam board that provides 11 Plus entry exams across the UK, including England, Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland. The exams cover a range of subjects such as Maths, English, Verbal Reasoning, and Non-Verbal Reasoning. GL Assessment exams are popular in Kent, London, Warwickshire, Buckinghamshire, and Cumbria.


CEM is a leading provider of 11 Plus exams. Their tests are adaptive and cover the same subjects as GL Assessment. They are commonly used in Dorset, Lancashire, Wiltshire, Essex, Berkshire, and Devon regions.

Local Authorities

In some regions, Local Authorities design their own 11 Plus entry exams to meet the specific requirements of their schools. For instance:

  • Gloucestershire and Shropshire: Follow the GL Assessment format with additional sections.
  •  Birmingham: Utilizes the CEM format for their entry exams.
  •  Medway: It employs a unique 11+ exam that includes mathematics, verbal reasoning, and an extended writing task.
  •  HertfordshireYorkshire, and Lincolnshire: Incorporate elements from GL Assessment and CEM formats to meet local school requirements.

Exam boards such as GL Assessment and CEM, as well as Local Authorities, play a crucial role in administering and tailoring these exams to meet the needs of different regions across the UK.

Subjects that are tested in the 11 Plus Exam.

The 11 Plus exam tests a student’s abilities in four subjects:

  • Verbal Reasoning: tests linguistic and logical reasoning abilities.
  •  Non-Verbal Reasoning: tests visual information manipulation skills.
  •  Mathematics: tests numerical reasoning and problem-solving skills.
  •  English: tests comprehension, language skills, and writing ability.

To prepare for the exam, students should practice with sample papers, schedule study time, and seek guidance from previous students or a tutor. They should improve their skills in each subject by practising different questions and concepts. Book a free consultation here to learn how Examsinsider can help you with your 11 Plus journey.

Test-Taking Strategies for the 11 Plus Exam.


With the 11 Plus exams being a pivotal factor in determining a student’s future educational path, it is essential to have effective test-taking strategies in place. These strategies can help students navigate the various question types and exam conditions confidently and succeed.

To enhance their performance, students should understand the different question types, such as comprehension, vocabulary, grammar, sentence completion, and writing questions. They should also develop strong time management skills and practice under timed conditions. Creating a study plan with regular study sessions and plenty of time for revision, utilizing practice papers and mock exams, and seeking support from private tutors or previous students can also contribute to preparation.

By implementing these test-taking strategies, students can approach the 11 Plus exams with a sense of preparedness and boost their chances of achieving desired academic outcomes.

Common FAQs about the 11 Plus Exams

Q: What is the passing score for the 11 Plus exams?

A: The passing score for the 11 Plus exams varies depending on the school and region. You must check with the schools you are applying to for their admission requirements.

Q: Are there sample papers available for practice?

A: Numerous sample papers and practice resources are available online and in bookstores. These materials are valuable for exam preparation. You can also find resources devised by three highly regarded teachers who are 11+ experts with Russell, especially from St Paul Girls school (consistently the No.1 academic school in the country) leading the program design on our website.

Q: Can I appeal if my child does not pass the 11 Plus exams?

A: Yes, there is usually an appeals process in place. You can appeal the results if extenuating circumstances affect your child’s performance.

Q: What is the difference between grammar schools and comprehensive schools?

A: Grammar schools are selective schools that admit students based on their performance in the 11 Plus exams. On the other hand, comprehensive schools accept students with various processes and offer a broader curriculum.

Q: How can I support my child’s emotional well-being during 11 Plus exam preparation?

A: It’s essential to maintain a balanced approach. Encourage your child to take breaks, engage in hobbies, and provide emotional support to alleviate stress.

Q: Are there alternative educational pathways if my child does not pass the 11 Plus exams?

A:¬†Yes, there are alternative schools and educational options available. Explore other secondary schools that fit your child’s abilities and interests better.

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