11 Plus Exams- Test Standardisation and Age Standardisation

Parents are often confused by this. We have tried to produce a brief guide which will explain the process for you.

Standardisation is a conversion process that changes the raw score (how many questions a child actually got right) into a standardised score. This is done to allow comparison between papers and/or between children of different ages.

11 Plus Exam – Test Standardisation

Where a school has a number of 11 Plus tests as part of their exam they need to be able compare results in Maths (out of 60 for example) , with English (out of 40 for example) and perhaps with Verbal Reasoning (out of 80 for example).

If a school adds together the scores or averages them then greater weight will be given to the tests with more questions. Standardisation is a process which seeks to give equal weight to each subject.

While it is more complicated than a percentage it does allow schools to add the standardised scores together to give a total that achieves less bias than the raw question numbers would otherwise result in.

Like any process standardisation has its flaws and while it is interesting to understand what it means, it is something that cannot be changed and is the same for each pupil so to that degree is not something that is worth worrying about. The only point we would make is that sometimes parents focus on Maths and Non-Verbal because they have more marks. In fact, once standardisation has happened every 11 Plus exam in the country rewards literacy skills, especially breadth of vocabulary, above everything else.

Age Standardisation

While, on an average basis, girls do mature educationally more quickly than boys there is no process which filters for gender.

Many tests do however adjust results for age.

Age adjustments are used because in extreme circumstances there can be up to a year of difference between the ages of children taking the test . One year may not sound like a lot but children who are a year older during the 11 Plus Exam have a distinct advantage over younger children if scores are not adjusted for age.

Children who are older tend to:

  • Be able to concentrate better and for longer which helps when faced with 3 or four tests in one day.
  • Have a much wider vocabulary than younger children.
  • Have a greater comprehension ability than younger children.
  • Show a greater propensity to working accurately and quickly.
  • Have greater maturity and ability to deal with the test day.

While of course it certainly isn’t true that every older child is more able than every younger child the above is still true on average. Age standardisation attempts to level the playing field.

For a guide to how far age standardisation can effect scores if you think about every three months altering scores by 2.5 % you won’t be far off…. So the oldest possible child would need to score 10% more marks to get the same standardised score as the youngest possible child.

Again age standardisation has its flaws but where it is used it is not something that can be challenged so we’d advise you to understand it and then re-focus on the preparation work.

Where perhaps it is useful is as follows:

  • If you have an older who is scoring 85% + , thinking about age standardisation might encourage you to strive for an even better performance. Don’t be complacent with good scores from older children.
  • If you have a younger child who is scoring 75%, don’t despair. Scores may be adjusted in their favour which may still result in a positive outcome.

(NB In practice children tend to score more highly at home than in the exam itself. This is due to a mix of exam nerves, lack of stamina on the day and examiners using more difficult questions than are issued in practice papers).