11 Plus tests are examinations used by selective state secondary schools in England. These schools only have limited places available each year and they use results of the tests to select the highest quality candidates to fill those places.
Children applying to these schools sit the tests in Year 6. The 11 Plus tests were officially discontinued in Northern Ireland, but many of the grammar schools still use English and maths as part of their admissions process. Independent schools across the UK also use tests as part of their selection process.
Selective Schools A selective school admits students on the basis of some sort of selection criteria. There are 164 grammar schools in England that are fully selective. There are eight bilateral schools, which operate two streams: a comprehensive stream and a grammar stream (which is selective).
There are also a small number of partially selective schools, who use selection criteria to fill the proportion of their available places.
The 11 + Tests and selection process
Some schools will base selection entirely on the results of the test. However, many make their final allocation of places base on a combination of criteria, including performance in tests, other assessment s and individual interview. You should be able to find out about the admissions procedures and selection criteria of individual schools from their own website or the Local Authority to which they belong. Most 11 Plus tests now take place in September Year 6. However, it is important to check application dates and test dates well ahead of time.
Once your child has taken the tests, the marking and admission process begins.
Results for the 11 Plus tests do not come quickly. You should be prepared to wait between 10 – 16 weeks. Check with the school of your local Authority when results will be made available.
Understand the Results The pass mark is determined by now many places are available at the school. Consequently, these often vary from year to year. In order to mark testing fair, scores are standardised by age: this means that some allowances are made for younger children within each group.
The success rate for the 11 Plus tests varies greatly by region. For example, some grammar schools will attract several thousand applicants for less than 200 places, so the success rate is relatively low. However, in other areas, where there are far more grammar school places available, there are fewer applicants per available place and so the success rate in significantly higher.
11 Plus Subjects and Disciplines Some schools will ask you to take tests in English, maths, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning. Others will only test a few of these subject areas.
English English is tested to determine whether a child has attained the required standard of English skills, including reading comprehension, vocabulary, grammar, spelling and punctuation. There is no standardised form of writing task and schools often create their own.
Maths/ Numerical Reasoning Mathematics is tested to determine whether a child has attained the required standard of mathematics skills, reasoning and problem –solving.
Calculators are generally NOT allowed for math questions. Some school will also set their own mental maths tests (where the questions are read out the child rather than being in a written format).
Non-verbal Reasoning Non-verbal reasoning assesses a child’s ability to see patterns and relationships independently of language. The questions feature shapes, pictures and patterns and allow children to demonstrate their ability to analyse, deduce and infer from close observation.
The tests are particularly helpful for children why may have specific difficulties with literacy of for whom English is not their first language.
Non-verbal reasoning questions provide schools with an indication of a child’s potential to work successfully with abstract concepts. The results are good indications of future learning and success in a number of subject areas.