Chapter 1 – What is the 11+?

The 11+ is usually taken at the beginning of Year 6 or the end of Year 5, for those seeking entrance into selective schools (either state or independent).

The actual content of the 11+ depends on the part of the country, but always focuses on a combination of:

  • English
  • Maths
  • Verbal reasoning
  • Non-verbal reasoning/spatial awareness

Your child will be experienced with English and Maths, as these will generally follow the national curriculum. The verbal/non-verbal reasoning tests, while ostensibly testing innate ability, will be new to your child, and preparation for these parts has been shown to boost marks. Our Tutoring Service is available to provide support for this.

11+ papers use a mixture of standard format and multiple choice.

There are two main exam boards:

GL Assessment (previously NFER)

CEM (developed by the Centre for Evaluation & Monitoring at Durham University)

There are some important differences between these exam boards, despite the fact they are testing the same general skills:

Regions(Devon, Essex, Hertfordshire, Trafford, and Yorkshire are common to both) Dorset, Kent, Lancashire & Cumbria, Lincolnshire, Medway, Northern Ireland, Wiltshire Berkshire, Bexley, Birmingham, Buckinghamshire, Devon, Gloucestershire, Shropshire, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wirral, Wolverhampton
Subjects English, maths, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning/spatial awareness (schools can choose any combination of these to best suit their selection policy) Verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning and numerical reasoning
Skills Vocabulary, logic, maths and spelling English, comprehension, vocabulary, spelling and maths. (CEM verbal reasoning is very different to GL and success is dependent on children having a wide-ranging vocabulary.)

The format, number, and date of the 11+ will depend on the area and school. It’s important to check with the school of interest about:

  • The date of the test
  • The subjects tested
  • The exam format
  • Who provides the exam