The 11 Plus Exam Syllabus

The 11 Plus Exam Syllabus

The 11 Plus exam covers a range of core subjects that are crucial for assessing a student’s aptitude and readiness for grammar schools and independent schools. 

The two primary subject areas that bear the most weight in this exam are English and Mathematics, which significantly evaluate a child’s potential to excel in an academically challenging environment. 

It also includes verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning components that assess a child’s ability to work with language and written text, solve problems, and think logically. 

Let’s discuss the specific topics within each core skill of the 11 Plus exam syllabus and how your child can best prepare for each area.

What Topics Are in the 11 Plus Exam Syllabus?

The 11 Plus Exam Syllabus

11 Plus English Syllabus

The English syllabus for the 11 Plus exam is a multifaceted assessment that covers a variety of question formats, including multiple-choice questions and written-answer questions. 

What sets this examination apart is the considerable variation in the format of the 11 Plus English paper across different regions and schools. In some instances, a particular school designs its unique test papers to suit its specific evaluation criteria. 

A typical 11 Plus English exam paper generally lasts for about 50 minutes and may include a combination of the following components:

  • Reading Comprehension skills
  • Vocabulary Testing
  • Spelling
  • Capital letters and Punctuation
  • Grammar and word choice
  • Creative Writing

Important Tips:

Reading and vocabulary development put a child at a distinct advantage in acing the English syllabus. Expose your child to a wide variety of reading materials early on and encourage them to explore different genres and styles.

11 Plus Maths Syllabus

The 11 Plus maths syllabus delves into a range of mathematical topics, with a strong emphasis on the concepts children typically learn in primary school. Maths test does not go beyond the KS2 (Key Stage 2) syllabus. 

Students are required to demonstrate their proficiency in various mathematical concepts, such as:

  • Mastering times tables
  • Basic four operations including addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
  • Fractions, percentages, decimals, ratio
  • Proportion, algebra, measurement, geometry

Important Tips:

Students are strongly advised to practice with maths exam papers. These practice tests for maths papers provide a practical understanding of the format of the maths syllabus and the level of difficulty expected under real exam conditions. 

11 Plus Verbal Reasoning

Verbal reasoning is an effective way of assessing a child’s potential, going beyond their learned abilities. It’s not solely about what they’ve been taught but also how well they can think and solve problems. 

Do note that there can be differences in verbal reasoning papers between different exam boards. For example, GL Assessment employs 21 different question types, whilst CEM blends elements of a regular English exam with traditional verbal reasoning. 

To ensure your child’s preparation is on target, familiarise yourself with the specific requirements of the exams they will be taking.

Question styles for verbal reasoning skills include:

  • Rearranging words
  • Word formations
  • Deciphering words
  • Compound words
  • Common word associations
  • Number codes and sequences
  • Identifying opposites and antonyms
  • Differentiating words within a group
  • Solving verbal maths problems
  • Sequencing words in patterns
  • Making sense of incomplete sentences

Important Tips:

Vocabulary also plays a pivotal role in verbal reasoning, so expanding their word knowledge can be highly beneficial.

Also, engaging in enjoyable activities like crosswords, word searches, word games, jigsaws, Sudoku, and similar puzzles can serve as excellent informal preparation for verbal reasoning tests. 

11 Plus Non-Verbal Reasoning

In contrast to verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning doesn’t rely on language. Instead, it evaluates a student’s capacity to solve problems using shapes, patterns, and images. 

To perform well in a non-verbal reasoning test, a child needs to discern how objects relate to each other visually, apply logical deduction to find patterns and make connections, and understand mathematical concepts such as symmetry and rotation.

Non-verbal reasoning questions include:

  • Identifying the odd pattern out among options
  • Rotations of images
  • Deciphering codes and patterns 
  • Transformations of one pattern to another
  • Completing a progressive sequence
  • Filling in an array of nine squares

Important Tips:

Practice with tests that emphasise visual and spatial reasoning.

But doing a succession of practice papers would not be enough. Focus on developing speed and accuracy to further improve in this subject area.  

How Many Papers Are There in the 11 Plus Exam?

In the 11 Plus exam, the number of test papers can vary depending on the specific exam board and the requirements of the grammar school or independent school to which your child is applying. 

Typically, four main papers assess a range of topics covered in the primary school curriculum: English, Mathematics, Verbal Reasoning, and Non-Verbal Reasoning. 

To ensure your child is well-prepared, it’s best to check the specific requirements of the school your child intends to enter and acquire practice papers or sample papers from reputable sources. Online, parents and students can access a wealth of resources for 11 Plus preparation, including free papers available on educational websites. Past papers provided by exam boards are also invaluable for practising and assessing one’s progress.

How Difficult Is the 11 Plus Exam for Grammar School?

The difficulty level of the 11 Plus exam can vary from one child to another, as it depends on the student’s ability and level of preparedness.

Many children, however, find the 11 Plus exam challenging due to the time constraints and the broad spectrum of topics covered. 

Help your child prepare effectively by tailoring their preparation to their individual needs and abilities and provide them with practice papers to build confidence and skills leading to the exam day.

Master the 11 Plus

A unique, confidence-boosting way to study for the 11 Plus

Is 11 Plus Harder Than GCSE?

Comparing the difficulty of the 11 Plus exams to GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) is not straightforward. The two exams serve different purposes and are taken at different stages of a student’s education. 

The 11 Plus is an entrance exam for grammar and independent schools and is generally taken by children around the age of 10-11. It tests their primary school knowledge in subjects like mathematics and English, along with reasoning skills.

GCSEs, on the other hand, are taken by students at around 16 years of age and cover a broader and more advanced curriculum. GCSEs are a significant milestone in a student’s future educational and career opportunities.

Both exams can be demanding and the level of difficulty varies based on the individual student’s preparation and aptitude for the subjects tested. Some students may find the 11 Plus harder due to its selective nature, whilst others may struggle more with the breadth and depth of GCSE subjects.