When Do You Take the 11 Plus Exam?

When Do You Take the 11 Plus Exam?

By understanding when the 11 Plus exam occurs and how to prepare for it, parents can help provide their children with the best chance of success.

This article will shed light on the timing for when you take the 11 Plus exam.

What is the 11 Plus Exam?

11 Plus Exam?

The 11 Plus exam, also known as the selective entrance exam, is a significant milestone in a child’s academic journey in the UK. (The test has officially been phased out in Northern Ireland but some schools still use the test in a different form, called the Northern Ireland Transfer Test.)

This standardised assessment helps determine a student’s school placement, offering access to coveted spots in grammar schools and independent schools, among others.

Sitting for the 11 Plus exam is a pivotal moment as it sets the stage for a child’s transition from primary to secondary education. The exam evaluates their knowledge and skills in areas such as English, Maths, Verbal Reasoning, and Non-verbal Reasoning.

The format and content of the 11 Plus Exam can vary between regions and even between schools, as there is no national curriculum for this exam. Some schools use exam papers from either of the two main exam boards, CEM or GL Assessment, whilst others create their own tests that follow the national curriculum.

It’s important to note that the 11 Plus exam is not solely about testing a child’s current knowledge but also assessing their ability to apply their skills and learning acquired throughout their primary school years. The emphasis on the academic achievements of primary children in their final year underscores the importance of comprehensive preparation.

11 Plus in Different Types of UK Secondary School

11 Plus in Different Types of UK Secondary School

In the UK, the educational landscape offers various types of schools, each with its distinct features and educational approach. Understanding the differences between these schools, including grammar schools, independent schools or fee-paying independent schools, and state secondary schools gives parents an edge in seeking the best education for their children.

Grammar Schools

Grammar schools are known for their selective admission policies, and they typically admit students based on their performance in the 11 Plus exam. This exam plays a pivotal role in gaining entry to most grammar schools such as the Latymer School and Queen’s Gate School, making it a crucial step in a child’s educational journey

Independent Schools

Fee-paying independent schools or private schools, offer a different educational experience. Whilst some independent schools use the 11 Plus exam, other independent schools have their own entrance criteria, which may include common entrance exams.

An independent school often focuses on a broad and well-rounded education, aiming to nurture academic achievement and personal development.

State Secondary Schools

State secondary schools, unlike grammar schools, usually admit students without a selective entrance exam. State schools follow the national curriculum and are open to all students within their catchment area, providing a comprehensive education that follows the guidelines set by local authorities.

The 11 Plus exam plays a central role in the admission process for grammar schools and some independent schools. For parents aiming to secure a school place for their child in a grammar school, preparation for this exam is critical.

When Should My Child Start the 11 Plus Exam

When Do You Take the 11 Plus Exam?

The 11 Plus is typically taken during a pupil’s last year in primary school, usually when they are in Year 6 of primary school. The academic year for Year 6 typically spans from September to July. Therefore, the 11 Plus exam is typically administered during this time, usually in the latter half of the academic year.

Students taking the 11 Plus exam are typically around 10 to 11 years old, depending on their birthdates and school cutoff dates. As a parent, be aware of the local cutoff dates for school admissions and your child’s specific age. This knowledge will help you determine the right academic year for your child to sit the 11 Plus exam.

The ideal time for students to start preparing for the 11 Plus Exam, especially for most grammar schools, depends on their current academic strengths and the complexity of the exam. If your child excels in literacy, and the 11 Plus primarily involves an English exam with an easily achievable pass rate, a few weeks of working through mock test papers may suffice for preparation.

But early preparation is the key to success in the 11 Plus exam. Beginning the preparation process early, preferably two years in advance, allows your child to gradually progress and tackle various aspects of the exam. It’s during this time that students should sharpen their verbal English, Maths, Verbal Reasoning, and Non-verbal Reasoning abilities.

Early preparation also gives your child the time they need to become confident and proficient in these subjects and ensure the child’s academic achievement.

Common Entrance Exam for Independent Schools

In the context of UK Independent schools, Common Entrance Exams are standardised assessments that students take to gain entry into these institutions. Unlike the 11 Plus, which is administered at a regional level, Common Entrance Exams are specific to individual schools or groups of schools. They also closely follow the national curriculum.

One noteworthy aspect of Common Entrance Exams is that they can vary in terms of the age group or year in which students sit for these exams. Whilst some independent schools may conduct these exams for entry into Year 7 (11-12 years old), others may have specific assessments for Year 9 (13-14 years old). 

The timing and structure of these exams may differ, so a parent needs to research and understand the specific requirements of the independent school their child wishes to attend.

Certain independent schools, particularly those in London, have established consortia where a child takes a single exam, which subsequently serves as an application to a bunch of schools within the consortium.

Can You Do the 11+ in Year 9?

The 11 Plus Exam is traditionally taken in Year 6 of primary schools when students are around 10 or 11 years old. Attempting the 11+ in Year 9 is not common and would be considered late. The 11 Plus is designed for entry into secondary school, and by Year 9, students would have already transitioned into secondary education. 

A few specific grammar schools do offer placements for students in Year 8 and Year 9 who aspire to enrol in a grammar school. In such instances, students in these years may be required to take a 12 Plus or 13 Plus examination.

Students may also have the opportunity to sit for other types of exams or assessments if they wish to change schools at a later stage, like applying for a transfer to another secondary school rather than taking the 11 Plus Exam. Consult with local authorities or the school directly to explore the available choices.

How Do I Know My Child Is Ready for 11+?

Assessing your child’s readiness for the 11 Plus Exam involves various factors. Firstly, speak with your child’s primary school teachers and ask for their assessment of your child’s academic abilities and readiness for the 11 Plus. They can provide valuable insights into your child’s strengths and weaknesses. 

Also, ensure your child is familiar with the format of the 11 Plus exam, including verbal and non-verbal reasoning. They should be able to tackle questions confidently. Your child should have undergone thorough preparation, which might include practice with past exam papers, guidance from tutors, or access to resources like those from GL Assessment or CEM exams.

Most of all, consider your child’s interest in attending grammar schools or independent schools and their level of motivation to succeed in the 11 Plus. Their enthusiasm for the opportunity can be a significant factor in their preparation.

How to Prepare for the 11 Plus Exam

Supporting your child’s preparation for the 11 Plus exam is a shared journey between parents and students. To aid you in this process, here are some valuable tips:

Understand the Local School Requirements and Exam Format

Some schools may have different entry requirements and criteria, including the pass mark for the 11 Plus Exam. Familiarise yourself with the format of the 11 Plus exam and the types of questions in English and Math as well as Verbal reasoning and Non-verbal reasoning. 

Access Practice Papers

Acquire practice papers and exam materials from reputable sources such as GL Assessment, one of the main exam boards. These practice papers are invaluable for your child to be prepared. Regular practice with exam papers and mock tests helps to gauge your child’s progress and identify areas that may need improvement. 

Build Their Core Skills Building

Incorporate 11+ skills into everyday activities. For instance, engage in quick word games during long journeys or play educational games like Scrabble or complete crosswords together. These activities can not only help improve your child’s vocabulary but also enhance their ability for an English written piece and verbal reasoning exam.

Practice Maths

Enhance your child’s maths skills by involving them in real-life maths tasks. Ask them to calculate the total value of items during a quick trip to the grocery store. Encourage them to interpret bus or train timetables, which can improve their maths and logical reasoning skills.

Read, Read, and Read

Reading is a fundamental skill for success in the 11 Plus Exam. Encourage your students to read a wide range of materials, including different genres and formats. Reading factual pieces on websites can be just as valuable as reading books. 

Create a Study Schedule

Develop a structured study schedule that balances academic preparation with regular breaks and other activities to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Seek Tutoring Support

Consider enlisting the help of a tutor who specialises in 11 Plus preparation. They can provide individualised guidance and practice.

Master the 11 Plus

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

Manage Time Effectively

Assess your child’s ability to manage their time effectively. The 11 Plus can be a time-pressured exam, so ensuring your child is comfortable with timed questions is essential.

Stay Positive and Encouraging

Maintain a positive and encouraging atmosphere at home. Reinforce the importance of hard work and perseverance whilst ensuring your child does not feel overwhelmed.