What is the 11+?

The 11+ is found in both the state system and in the independent schools sector, and is the entrance exam procedure for getting your child into a fee-paying or state grammar school. Much of the country abolished the 11+ several decades ago but a few local authorities such as Bucks and Kent retained a large number of grammar schools and run county-wide entrance tests. In some other areas, such as Barnet and Kingston, a few grammar schools exist in tandem with the comprehensive system found in most of the country. These grammar schools set their own entrance exams.

What does my child need to know?

There is no uniformity to the exams. Many grammar schools and particularly selective independents still test applicants’ Maths and English. Others test Verbal Reasoning (VR) and Non-verbal Reasoning (NVR) too – a fairer system, many believe, as this is a better indicator of raw intelligence than Maths and English which can be coached for and which advantage those from prep schools. VR and NVR cannot really be coached, though practice undoubtedly helps. The preparatory schools is – as their name demonstrates – to prepare their pupils, help them get into good senior schools – state or independent.

When does it happen?

There is no synchronicity to when the 11+ happens. However, state grammar schools must now give out initial results before the closing date for all secondary school applications – so in many cases you need to sign up by July of year 5, and exams often take place in September of year 6.

Even the independents make little effort to synchronise testing and exams happen from November – January in general. However, some independent schools, especially in London, have formed themselves into consortia so that your child sits one exam which is then used as an application to a whole bunch of schools, and most give out their results at the same time – usually in February.



Verbal reasoning

Non Verbal reasoning