All you need to know about 11+ exams & Grammar schools

All you need to know about 11+ exams & Grammar schools

11 Plus

The GT Scholars programme has a primary focus on helping pupils gain excellent grades throughout school, especially in their SATS, GCSEs and A-levels. We follow topics from the National curriculum, but our tutors and mentors do not provide specialist support with 11+ examinations. Although some topics from the National Curriculum may be interlinked with some of the topics within your child’s 11+ exam, you will probably need to do your own preparation at home if you want your child to gain entrance to a grammar school.

In this blog entry, we will provide as much information as possible to support you with preparing for the 11+ exams, particularly for grammar school entry:

What are the 11+ exams?

The 11+ exams are exams that students take to gain entrance into grammar schools. Grammar schools are highly selective state schools around the country that aim to select only the ‘brightest’ students. There are still a few grammar schools left in the country but they are extremely competitive. Some grammar schools have as high as 1,500 students applying to join the school even though only 200 spaces are available.

What exams should I expect?

The examination usually involves Maths, English, Verbal reasoning, Non-verbal reasoning or quantitative reasoning. Each school or borough will have their own set of examinations and style of examinations, e.g. Maths only or multiple choice only. Some schools will have a written essay as part of the examination.

What are my child’s chances of getting in?

Most grammar schools select students based on the cutoff pass mark followed by proximity to the school. This means that if you live closer to the school, you have a relatively higher chance of gaining entrance. However, if your child’s mark is above the ‘pass mark,’ you should be in a good position to gain entrance to the school. You will still, of course, need to consider how your child will get to school every day if you live much further away from the school.

Are the exams automatic, or will I have to request this?

In some areas, the local LEA enter every child to sit an 11+ test. However, in most areas, you will need to make your own arrangements to sit the test. In some areas, the test is organised by a consortium of schools or individual schools and in some areas, you will need to formally apply for a place and enter your child for a separate test for each school. The best solution is always to do your own research and contact the school directly and ask them about their examination and the admission procedure.

When do I need to apply?

You will usually need to apply while your child is still in Year 5. Each school or borough will have its own application process, and you may find that you are reading through a lot of guidelines and possibly filling out more than one application form, e.g. one for the school and one for the borough. Remember that you still probably want to apply for local state schools for your child.

When is the exam? How can I prepare for the exam?

The exam is usually in the first term of Year 6. Some people start preparing for the exam as early as Year 3, and others wait until their child is in Year 5. There are hundreds of books specifically written for the 11+ examinations. The Bond books and the Letts books are probably the most popular 11+ books, but if you type 11+ exam books on Amazon, you will find hundreds more. There are also lots of websites with free resources to help you prepare for the 11+ examinations.

What if my child doesn’t get in?

There has always been some controversy about grammar schools and their effect on educational inequality. The reality is that many bright children that have worked very hard and spent months or even years preparing for the exam fail to get in. This can lead to children as young as 10 or 11 feeling like a failure or feeling depressed. It’s, therefore, important to keep your child’s mind on the bigger picture.

It can be easy to lose perspective, particularly during the build up of the exam. The 11+ exam can build your child’s confidence if he or she sees progress, but for many children, it can lead to feelings of anxiety. It’s probably better to help your child see the 11+ preparation time as a way of personal and academic growth rather than an intensive period of hard work and sacrifice!

Whether your child passes or fails, it’s important to acknowledge your child for the hard work that they have put into the exam, let your child know that 11+ exams do not determine the future and your child is still capable of achieving anything he or she wants to achieve in life.