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What Is 11 Plus Exam? Find Out Here!

What is the 11 Plus?

The 11+ exam is an examination conducted by the government of England and Wales to determine whether children aged between 11 and 14 years old are ready to start secondary school.

It is also known as the English Baccalaureate test.

The 11+ exam measures a child’s intellectual abilities, academic ability, and understanding of key subjects such as English, Maths, Science, History, and Geography.

The exam is taken at the end of primary school and is usually sat at the end of Year 6.

What does the 11 Plus exam comprise of

The 11+ exam comprises three parts: English language, mathematics, and science.

  • The English language part tests your ability to read, write, listen, and speak. 
    It comprises questions about English grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Maths tests your ability to solve basic mathematical problems, Maths’ non-verbal reasoning, reasoning maths.
  • The science part tests your ability to understand scientific concepts.

The 11+ exams are held every year and are graded into three levels: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3.

  • Level 1
    Is the easiest level and is suitable for children who have been taught the basics of reading, writing, and maths.

    They will answer simple questions about these topics in their own words. Children with this grade can go onto Secondary School or continue studying through Key Stage 4.
  • Level 2
    Is more difficult than Level 1 but still easy enough that most students should pass it without too much difficulty.

    This grade requires pupils to demonstrate higher-order thinking skills, including problem-solving, verbal and non-verbal reasoning questions, and critical analysis.

    Students must show they know how to apply what they learn from lessons and practice questions.

    They need to use strategies like drawing conclusions based on evidence, using analogies, making predictions, and explaining why something might happen.

    Children with this grade may move up to Higher Education courses after completing A-Levels.
  • Level 3
    Is the hardest grade available. Pupils here need to demonstrate advanced academic abilities and verbal, and non-verbal reasoning.

    These include being able to analyse complex information, make logical deductions, draw inferences, explain ideas clearly, and work independently.

    Students with this grade often study further education qualifications such as BTEC National Diplomas, HNDs, and degrees.

Should my child do 11 plus

If you think your child has reached the age where he/she needs to take the 11+ exam, then there’s no reason not to give them the chance.

In addition, if you want your child to get good grades when taking GCSEs later on, then doing well in the 11+ exam could help him/her achieve this goal.

However, don’t expect to see any results immediately – it takes time before your child gets better marks.

Provided that your child passes all three sections successfully, they’ll receive one of four possible outcomes, depending on which grade they achieved.

If they got a Grade 5 result, they would automatically progress to secondary school. If they scored a Grade 4, they’d have to sit another exam called the ‘SAT’. After passing this, they’d be given permission to enter secondary school.

Hence, if your child gets a Grade 6 score, they’re likely to proceed straight to university.

However, if your child fails at least two subjects, they won’t be allowed to attend college until they’ve passed an additional test known as the UCAS points test.

This means that even though your child did very badly in his/her 11+, they still have some way to go before they reach their dream destination!

Where and when does the 11+ take place?

 To check what is the option for students, it is worthwhile contacting the schools you wish to attend directly to find out how the 11+ test is conducted in your area.

Furthermore, some universities offer places specifically for those taking the 11+ exam.

Are grammar schools better

Grammar school is usually considered to be academically superior to comprehensive schools.

The main difference between the two types of school is that comprehensives teach children across several subject areas whereas grammar school focuses on just the English language and literature.

In terms of exams, however, both types of schools require candidates to complete the same sets of tests.

Hence, whether your child attends a grammar school, a private school, or a comprehensive school shouldn’t affect their chances of success in the 11+.

Therefore, if you feel your child will benefit from attending a particular type of school, then by all means choose it.

How do you prepare for 11+

There are many ways you can help to boost your child’s confidence for exam success and improve their chances of getting a good result.

Some post-exam process you can do to build their foundations for a higher success rate:

Read books – Reading helps develop vocabulary which improves student vocabulary and comprehension. You could try fiction novels, nonfiction books, magazines, newspapers, comics, etc.

Write essays – Writing gives you time to think about what you want to say and allows you to organise your thoughts. Try writing short stories, poems, letters, reports, reviews, etc.

Practise speaking – Speaking develops confidence and makes you feel comfortable when talking in front of others. Practice by giving presentations, answering interview questions, taking part in debates, etc.

Practice listening – Listening involves paying attention to other people’s conversations and following instructions. It also means trying out new activities so you get used to different situations.

For example, take an interest in music, sports, art, drama, dance, cooking, gardening, crafts, foreign languages, computers, video games, etc.

Learn a second language – Learning another language broadens your horizons and opens doors to exciting opportunities.

If you already speak one language, then learning a second would give you even greater benefits. There are lots of free resources online to support your studies.

Do revision – Revision helps you remember important facts and figures. Make sure you revise regularly throughout the school term. Use flashcards, mnemonics, mind maps, worksheets, quizzes, etc.

Get extra tuition – Extra tuition provides additional training and feedback on areas where you struggle. Tutors can be found at schools or through private tutoring companies like TheTutor.Link

Get involved – Being part of a team will boost your self-confidence and help you build friendships. Join clubs, societies, teams, bands, orchestras, choirs, debating groups, sport teams, theatre productions, youth organisations, religious groups, political parties, community projects, etc.

There are many ways you can improve your chances of passing the 11+ exam. You could try doing revision sessions with friends or family members.

If you’re struggling with any subject, then ask someone else if they would mind helping you out.

You could also look online for resources which help you revise effectively.

There are lots of websites offering free materials or learning tools to help you create your preparation plan, so there isn’t anything stopping you!

What happens if I fail my 11+ exams?

If you don’t achieve the grades required to progress into secondary school, there are several options open to you.

Some children who have failed their exams go back to primary school while others choose to stay at home until they reach 16 years old.

Others decide to continue studying privately or attend college instead.

The decision depends on whether you’re happy staying at home or going away to university. The choice is yours!

Can I retake my 11+ exams? Yes, you can re-sit any subject that has been taken within three months of sitting it again.

However, this does not apply to subjects such as English Language GCSE and Mathematics A-Level.

You must sit all parts of these examinations separately. This includes both written papers and practical tests.

How do I know if the 11+ is right for my child?

It’s always best to talk things over with your child before deciding about education.

They may feel nervous about starting secondary school, but once they realise how much fun it’ll be, they might change their minds.

Your child should enjoy being around other kids and having plenty of time to play outside.

They need to concentrate well when working hard during lessons for higher success rate. Your child needs to learn good study skills too.

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A Wife, a mum and a Tutor! I am the Lead Editor at TheTutor.Link & also the Head Tutor there. I love teaching seeing young minds flourish. I also love blogging and sharing my experience on the world wide web.