There Are Three Main Types of 11 Plus Exam. How Do You Know Which One Your Child Will Take?
Different regions contract different exam providers to run their 11 Plus exam process. This means the type and format of 11 Plus exam your child will sit depends on what part of the country you’re in. It’s extremely likely that your child will be taking a test from one of the following exam providers:
Independent Schools self-written tests (note: this is where certain independent schools choose to write and administer their own 11 Plus exams).
GL Assessment and Durhams CEM 11 Plus exams are typically multiple choice (your child will select an answer from a box rather than writing in their answers), but some elements of 11 Plus exams may be written tests, so again you should double check this to make sure your child is practising the correct exam technique.
Which Subjects Are In Each Type of 11 Plus Exam?
No matter the exam provider or exact format, all 11 plus exams typically include all or some of the following subjects:
11 Plus English
11 Plus English typically consists of comprehension, spelling, punctuation and grammar exercises. Some independent school 11 plus exams may include an additional creative writing exercise, but neither GL Assessment nor Durham CEM exams typically involve any creative writing.
11 Plus Verbal Reasoning
There are 21 traditional types of Verbal Reasoning questions used in GL Assessment 11 Plus exams, but they have also recently started to introduce even more. GL Assessment Verbal Reasoning (VR for short) tests students’ logic and reasoning skills, and cover vocabulary, mental maths, and code cracking skills all within this subject.
Durham CEM Verbal Reasoning is typically much more closely related to English, and is focused on testing vocabulary.
Independent school 11 Plus exams may draw from any type of Verbal Reasoning.
11 Plus Maths
11 Plus maths is usually quite similar across different exam providers, because it tends to include a mix of questions based on the Year 5 school syllabus (although higher level questions are often also included). GL Assessment maths sections tend to consist of individual, single mark questions, whereas Durham CEM tend to include more multi-part questions.
11 Plus Non-Verbal Reasoning
Non-Verbal Reasoning (NVR for short), tests students’ problem solving ability and spatial awareness. In NVR, students usually have to find a pattern or sequence between a nuber of different shapes and figures.
NVR question types are broadly very similar between exam providers, although there are some types that show up more frequently in GL Assessment than in Durham CEM and vice versa. Independent schools feature NVR in their 11 Plus exams less frequently, but you should check with individual schools.
Depending on which type of 11 plus exam provider your county/grammar school of choice uses, the 11 plus exam your child sits may contain all of the subjects above, or possibly a combination of two or three of them. Make sure you check your county’s or independent school’s websites, as you don’t want your child to prepare for the wrong subjects.
Which Type of 11 Plus Exam Will My Child Take?
Check the schools admissions section of your county council website and also explore the admissions sections of the websites of any Grammar schools you’re interested in.
If you’re interested in applying for a Grammar school out of county (e.g. you live in Hertfordshire but are interested in Buckinghamshire Grammar schools) then you want to make sure that you are looking at admissions requirements in the county where the Grammar school is, not where you live.
Note that catchment areas for Grammar schools are often very strict depending on your area, so your child’s chance of acceptance into a certain school (even if they pass the 11 plus exam) could be very low if you don’t live within the catchment area. Again, you should check the admissions policies for individual Grammar schools to make sure your child isn’t preparing for an exam to access a school they have next to no chance of getting into.
Check out the regional information pages below for more information (please note that we keep these updated to the best of our knowledge, but you should always double check as we cannot guarantee accuracy):
Explore Learning also have a great tool on their website where you can look at individual schools and the 11 plus exam provider they use. This is especially helpful for regions such as London, where there are multiple 11 Plus consortiums and arrangements between different schools.
Once you’ve worked out which 11 plus exam provider/style of exam your child will sit (there could be more than one depending on which schools you’re interested in), read below to find out the best way to prepare for it and the best 11 plus practice papers.
I Know Which Type of 11 Plus Exam my Child Will Sit. What Now?
Check out my next post on the best 11 Plus practice papers and materials, and the best way children can prepare for the different types of 11 plus exam.