What is the 11 Plus Entrance Exam ?

The 11 Plus Entrance Exam has been a feature of the English education system for decades. Historically there was a two tier system in state education with the top 25% being taken into Grammar Schools and the remainder going forward to Secondary Modern schools.

The system changed in the late seventies and most Grammar Schools were abolished when the system became non-selective. This was the dawn of The Comprehensive Education System.

In some areas, however, the local preference was to retain Grammar Schools. There are 164 schools remaining, with some areas like Kent and Buckinghamshire maintaining a complete system and other areas having limited or no provision (look in the 11 Plus exam areas section to see what provision is like where you are).

Independent Schools also use entrance testing at 11 (also called the 11 Plus) to decide which students they take. This is quite normal in Independent Day Schools around the country.

The Format of the 11 Plus Entrance Test

The 11 Plus exam varies around the country and even from school to school, but it typically involves all or some of tests in Maths, English, Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning. To find out which type of test applies to your area go to the relevant area in our 11 Plus exam areas section. There is information in each 11 Plus area section on what is required and what you might need to think about.

Competition for places at 11 Plus – What to prepare for

Competition varies around the country depending on provision and demand. In some areas there might be ten or twenty times the applicants as there are available places, in other areas there might be twice as many applicants as places.

In most areas it is fair to say competition is high and so parents naturally try and give their children an edge by preparing them for the exam in some way. This can vary from doing a few papers before the test or going through a full preparation involving tutors. Most people take a middle ground and do some work at home to help develop their children’s core Maths and English skills (and VR and Non-VR if necessary) also  building in some testing towards the end. Parents can spend anything between £10 or £20 on a few tests to more than five thousand pounds on private tuition. Most appear to spend something in the region of £300/£400 and prepare at home using books or an 11 Plus guided course.

For guidance on the difference ways you can prepare and to help you decide which if any might be right for you then go to our 11 Plus exam preparation section where there is lots of information you should find helpful.

11 Plus for Independent Schools

Many Parents try for both Grammar School and Independent School places. The core skills required are very similar and a child who does well in a Grammar School test will do well in a typical Independent School test.

Independent Schools tests tend to be slightly different in some ways and so it is worth reading our section on preparing for Independent School 11 Plus tests as a start point. This should help you understand what will be required and how to think about scheduling preparation to cover both Grammar and Independent School tests if that is what you are aiming for.