Posted on the 4th February
Ahhhh the eleven plus exam, a tale as old as 1944, when the school system was rearranged. It entitled all children in the UK to free education between the ages of 5 and 15 where they would attend primary schools up to the age of 11 before moving on to continue education at secondary schools.
At this time, there were 3 types of secondary school: Grammar, secondary modern, and technical.
Nowadays, with the likes of academies, state boarding, and faith schools all being added to the roster, it can be difficult to know the best pathway for your child.
As such, we have compiled the ultimate guide for you on the 11+ exam, the opportunities it presents, and the best way to approach it to ensure that your child passes and is accepted into the right secondary school.
So let's get started, shall we...
The 11+ is in essence an entrance exam for particular secondary schools, used by grammar schools and private schools alike to identify the most academically-able children.
The exam is taken in primary school by students either near the end of Year 5 or at the beginning of their time in Year 6.
Not every county across the UK runs the 11+ for entrance into grammar schools, so first off, you need to make sure you are in a location that does use it before even contemplating it. The full list of counties that use the 11+ still can be found below:
The simple answer is no. There are 2 main exam boards for the 11+, each with their unique exam questions, tests, and mark scheme so it is vital you know which one your child is likely to do to help prepare them best.
The 2 boards are CEM (Durham University) and GL Assessment.
Whilst it is not a perfect science, the exam you sit is dependent on the area you are in. Below you can see a list of which counties run each exam board.
While the content and structure of the exam depend on the exam board being used, it will typically focus on a combination of:
As you would expect, the content of subjects like Maths and English in the exams naturally follows the national curriculum but reasoning exams are unique and not part of the UK curriculum, so it is important to know exactly what they involve.
Nope. Taking the 11+ is at the discretion of both the students and parents if they want to attend a grammar school in the UK. So if you are happy with your child attending a comprehensive or state school then the 11+ will skate on by.
It is important to know, if you live in an area like Buckinghamshire, children are automatically registered for the 11+ and it will require opting out.
Not sure about the registration process? Check out what it's like via your local authority website here.
This comes down to the individual. While not every child is suited for a grammar school, it is important to remember that where they end up is not set in stone and what works for one student does not necessarily work 100% of the time.
So, if you think your child has potential and will do well in our entrance exams then give the 11+ a go, whilst keeping in mind the following questions:
This should be the first step, before anything else, you need to know if it is even possible to take it where you live and how it works specifically in your area.
It is a regionalised exam, so the topics and subjects that your child will be tested on will vary greatly depending on the location of you and the school you are applying to.
The best course of action is to call the school you wish to gain entry to and ask them directly about the entrance process.
It is up to the individual, but the earlier preparation begins for children under 7/8 years old, the better.
There are plenty of resources available online that will aid in providing your child with a head start and give them an extra edge or input just enough knowledge into their brain that you need before they sit their test or looking into a private online 11+ tutor on Sherpa Online who can provide your child with the support they need during a timeframe that suits you.
Just like with any service, it is important to conduct some of your own research. There are hundreds of thousands of tutors out there all able to tutor the 11 plus but experience and value for money are incredibly skewed.
Most tuition agencies and sites out there promote university-level students as tutors and while they provide a good value they have very little experience when it comes to the practical application of 11 plus concepts and theories in a classroom environment. You may be able to find some for as little as £5 per hour but the quality of the lessons will leave little to be desired and you are running a risk that you just shouldn't have to.
Sherpa Online has qualified UK teachers and professional tutors in a whole host of subjects and levels, including 11+ with prices per hour starting at just £15.
Have a question you need answering? Check out our forum.
Want something else to read and get those cogs turning? View our other blogs here.
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