Is your child due to take the 11+ exam at the beginning of Year 6? Find out more about grammar school selection exams, how they differ across the country and the literacy and numeracy topics children are tested on.
What is the 11+?
Also referred to as the ‘Transfer Test’, the 11+ is a test taken by some Year 6 pupils in primary schools in England. Its purpose is to provide a filter for selecting who’s academically suited to attend a grammar school or selective school for Year 7 onwards.
Where and when does the 11+ take place?
Testing dates a dependent upon where you live, although it’s often early on in the autumn term in September. There’s usually a chance to take a practice 11+ a few days before at school. If your child attends a local authority primary school, they will sit the 11+ exam in one of their classrooms. If they don’t, they’ll be asked to take the test at a central location like a local grammar school.
Do all children have to take the 11+?
Your child is automatically registered for the 11+ if they attend a local authority primary school in a county or metropolitan borough, however sitting the test is not compulsory. The areas that still have grammar schools are: Berkshire; Bristol; Buckinghamshire; Cheshire; Cumbria; Devon; Dorset; Essex; Gloucestershire; Hertfordshire; Kent; Lancashire; Lincolnshire; London; Manchester; Middlesex; Shropshire; Surrey; Warwickshire; West Midlands; West Yorkshire and Wiltshire.
What is covered in the 11+ exam?
The 11+ can include four disciplines: verbal reasoning; non-verbal reasoning, maths and English. All need multiple choice answers, except English, which is a written piece of work.
- Verbal reasoning: These questions are about solving problems and following sequences to do with words and text. Verbal reasoning tests your child’s English grammar and vocabulary.
- Non-verbal reasoning: During the non-verbal reasoning paper, your child will need to solve problems to do with diagrams and pictures. There’s also an element of maths.
- Maths: Your child will be tested on mental maths, maths concepts and skills and problems that have to be solved in multiple stages.
- English: The English paper puts your child’s creative writing skills to the test, as they have to plan, structure and write a piece of work.
What happens after the exam?
You receive your child’s 11+ results in October in the form of a ‘standardised score’. This is thought to be the fairest way of presenting the results as it takes into account the fact that some children could be almost a year younger than others when they take the test. For example, a child born on August 31st one year could be at a disadvantage to a child born on September 1st the year before. So if these two children get the same ‘raw score’ in their tests, the final score of the youngest child will be higher to make up for their age. After you receive the results, you will typically have until the end of October to apply for secondary school places. Most places are allocated at the start of March, usually on 1 March or the first working day.
Surrey’s grammar schools are some of the most competitive in the country.
There is stiff competition for entry into Surrey’s grammar schools, with as many as ten applicants for each school place. The selective schools in Surrey are divided between two areas of the county: Kingston-upon-Thames and Sutton.
The grammar schools in Kingston-upon-Thames are:
The Sutton grammar schools are:
- Nonsuch High School for Girls
- Sutton Grammar School for Boys
- Wallington County Grammar School (Boys)
- Wallington High School for Girls
- Wilson’s School (Boys)
- Greenshaw High School (Mixed, partially selective)
What do the tests involve?
As of 2014, the Sutton schools have been working collaboratively and are currently looking to formalise themselves as a school consortium. They now use the same Selective Eligibility Test, which comprises two 40-45-minute multiple-choice style numeracy and literacy tests, based on what the children should have learned in Key Stage 2. In all of the schools, with the exception of Greenshaw High, sitting the first test will determine whether a child may be entered for the school’s second stage entrance test.
The Tiffin School currently has a one-stage test, which consists of a verbal reasoning paper and a non-verbal reasoning paper. However, it is planning to change to a two-stage process, with round one testing English and maths in a multiple choice format, and round two comprising a written English and maths test. Further details will appear on the school’s website.
For Tiffin Girls’, there is a two-stage process, where only the children who have qualified from stage one are invited to take the second test. The stage one test is made up of two multiple-choice test papers, verbal and non-verbal reasoning. The stage two test will assess the core subjects of English and maths.
What version of the test is used?
The Sutton schools write the Selective Eligibility Test themselves. The second stage entrance tests are written by each individual establishment and will differ between each school. Parents need to carefully check the relevant website to clarify further details of each individual school’s admission criteria.
The stage one test is prepared exclusively by GL Assessment for Tiffin School and The Tiffin Girls’ School.
How do you arrange for your child to take the test?
For Sutton Schools, the Sutton Local Authority website provides direct links to all the schools in the area detailing their admissions policies, testing arrangements and how to register your child to take the Selective Eligibility Test.
For both Kingston Schools, you need to fill in a Supplementary Information Form (SIF), available on each of the school’s websites, in order for your child to take the selective test. Kingston’s Local Authority website has full contact details of each school as well as providing details of their admission process, key dates and testing arrangements. Parents are also advised to read the admissions section on each of the school’s websites too.
What is the pass mark?
The Sutton schools don’t state a pass mark in advance of the test, but set it at a point where they feel candidates would then be capable of accessing a grammar school curriculum. The pass mark at both the Kingston schools varies. The Tiffin Girls’ School allocates places in rank order; in previous years as many as 1,316 children took the test with only 150 places available. Places are offered at the Tiffin School in rank order until 180 places are filled, and each year, a minimum qualifying score is set.
How can I help prepare my child?
The Sutton schools have made a point of not offering sample questions to parents or providing past papers as their intention is to create a level playing field for all children taking part. The Tiffin schools don’t make past papers available to parents, but they do direct you to the GL Assessment practice papers that are widely available from bookshops and online.
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