Independent School 11 Plus Exams

Independent School exams tend to be broadly similar to 11 Plus Exams that are sat for Grammar School entry.

Parents who are trying for instance for a Grammar School 11 Plus Exam in September and then sitting an Independent School 11 Plus Exam in January (sometimes called 11 Plus Common Entrance) will have to a large degree covered the topics they need to already.

There are however some differences so it is worth going through them.

Maths- Difference between Grammar School and Independent School tests.

Grammar tends to be multiple choice, Independent School tends to be standard (e.g. no answer options given).

Grammar tests tend to focus on year five work in the main but in the more competitive areas can stray into year six work. They tend not to go beyond year six work. The difficulty within the Grammar School 11 Plus tests often comes from the sheer number of questions that need to be answered in a short amount of time. Independent School maths tests tend to be written by the individual schools and also tend to have fewer questions , but the questions typically need more thought. 90% of the questions in an Independent School test will have been covered through the year six syllabus but schools do tend to have three or four more difficult questions at the end. These are there to differentiate between the bright and the brilliant and tend to be more logic based questions. This is the big difference between Grammar and Independent School 11 Plus tests.

Grammar School tests tend to be multiple-choice and are marked by optical reader and so how you arrive at your answer carries no weight at all. Independent School tests tend to be standard and are marked by a human. It is important to show your working in Independent School tests because the schools are keen to see how your mind works. At some schools they may well ask one or two questions at the end which they expect very few if any pupils to be able to answer correctly. They want to see how a child uses their maths skills to attempt an answer.

If a child has prepared for Grammar School tests and wants to do some further maths work to help themselves to prepare for Independent School tests then please go through to our page on Independent School maths preparation for some guidance on what materials might be most suitable to use during the gap between the September Grammar School 11 Plus test and the January Independent School test.

English- Difference between Grammar School and Independent School tests

English Grammar School tests tend to be written by a publisher and are multiple-choice, Independent School tests tend to be written by the school and are standard.

Where there is a comprehension test in some areas you may well find that the Independent School passage is a much more difficult text than the Grammar School text. It is worth noting that a child’s ability to read for meaning in a classic text is quite likely in an Independent School exam, equally there is if anything an even stronger emphasis on breadth of vocabulary and interpreting author intent in Independent School Exams than there is in many Grammar School 11 Plus exams.

Spelling, Grammar and Punctutation. Because Independent School 11 plus tests are in standard format children need to be able to write accurately. Marks will be lost in any answer where spelling is not correct. Where schools have specific sections to test this area then they will be of a similar standard to those encountered in Grammar School tests.

Creative Writing. This is the key point of difference between most Grammar School tests and most Independent School tests. Grammar School tests tend not to have a writing section (because they cannot be marked by optical reader) but Independent Schools do (because the tests are marked by humans). Some Grammar School areas are introducing an element of Creative writing but it tends to be marked only in certain circumstances. In Independent School tests the creative writing element will always be marked.

Children can usefully develop their creative writing style between taking their Grammar School test and taking their Independent School test. Most children will have developed a sufficiently wide vocabulary to be able to do well in a creative writing test and can focus on how to improve their style.

Verbal Reasoning- Difference between Grammar School and Independent School tests.

For the most part Independent Schools buy in their Verbal Reasoning tests from suppliers – these will normally be GL/NFER.

Some Independent Schools have decided to use the 11 Plus Examinations provided by the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM). It is confusing but CEM do refer to one of their tests as Verbal Reasoning whereas in fact it is more like an English paper than a standard 11 Pus VR paper.

It is as well to ask the schools directly. Most publish this information on their website.

You can get information on both GL Verbal Reasoning and CEM 11 Plus Verbal Reasoning on this site.

Non- Verbal Reasoning- Difference between Grammar School and Independent School tests.

We are not aware of any Independent School which develops its own stand-alone Non- Verbal Reasoning test.

Most children find Non-Verbal Reasoning reasonably easy to get to grips with, so we would suggest that going through a preparation phase (using one of the 11 Plus Non-Verbal Reasoning books we suggest) lasting no more than a couple of weeks and then doing some test papers (using some of the 11 Plus Non-Verbal Reasoning exam papers we suggest) will produce good results.

Non-Verbal Reasoning essentially involves seeing patterns or codes in a series of shapes and once children get the hang of it they often find it quite fun.

If there is going to be a Non-Verbal Reasoning test for the Independent School or Grammar School you are trying for don’t worry that it isn’t something children have done in school. With a little bit of work most children will deliver to their full potential.