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11 Plus


What is the 11 plus?

The 11 plus is an exam taken by many students in their final year of primary school to gain entry into Grammar and Independent Schools.   The 11 plus exam was once used throughout the United Kingdom, but since the 1970s most areas replaced the 11 plus exam with the non-selective comprehensive education system.  However, some local authorities have retained some or all of their Grammar Schools and today, in England, there are still over 160 Grammar Schools.

There is no national 11 plus exam and each school, whether grammar or independent, will set their own exam and each will vary in style and content.  The tests examine the student’s ability to solve problems using Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning.

It is important to note that the 11 plus entrance exam is different from what is known as the “Common Entrance Exam” which is usually taken at the age of 13 for Independent Schools. The Common Entrance Exam also includes an English Comprehension and Maths paper but it also replicates some of the elements of the 11 plus exam i.e. verbal reasoning.  However, many Independent Schools also take new students at Year 7 and their tests generally include verbal and non-verbal reasoning tests in their entrance exams.

It is also important to note that, the 11 plus exams can only be taken once.  There is no provision for resitting tests if the results are disappointing.  Whereas the GCSE and A level exams can be taken again and again if necessary, the 11 plus is a ‘once only’ opportunity.

At what age do the students sit the 11 plus exam?

Your child will sit these exams at the start of Year 6, their final year of primary school, when they are aged 10 or 11.  

How do I find out about admission information for the schools in my area?

It is important to contact your Local Education Authority’s Admissions Department as well as each individual school directly to ensure you obtain the most up-to-date and precise information about individual admission policies.  Each local authority and school will have its own policy.

How do I find out about exam dates?

You should contact individual schools for exam dates and test arrangements.  We will also list dates of school exams and there are links to the appropriate local schools here.

What is non-verbal reasoning (NVR)?

Non-Verbal Reasoning questions are symbol and picture-based.  They test a child’s ability to understand and remember a visual sequence, interpret the meaning of the visual presentation, find the ‘odd one out’, solve codes and missing sequence patterns. At Primary School, your child will have been taught how to deal with words and numbers but dealing with pictures is very different and your child will need to develop a new set of skills.  Rather like musical ability, you may find your child is very good at ‘academic’ subjects but struggles initially with visual skills.  Our teaching encourages these skills to develop but, just as with musical skills, you cannot expect these abilities to develop overnight – they grow over time.  Practice and perseverance are needed to succeed and at Examberry we support your child during this journey.

Take a look at the examples of NVR questions on our website.

What is verbal reasoning (VR)?

Verbal Reasoning is largely language-based problem-solving and your child will need a broad vocabulary and good grasp of English grammar to be successful in these ultra-competitive exams.  Although our tuition covers this area it is very important that your child is reading a wide variety of books at home.  We do provide a reading list but the most important thing is simply to read and read and read! 

Although a verbal test would logically be entirely about words you will find that the 11 plus Verbal Reasoning test also includes questions requiring basic numeracy skills.  It is therefore important that your child is comfortable with simple mental arithmetic – knows the ‘times tables’ and can add, subtract, multiply and divide in their head quickly and easily.  The test itself often includes questions involving simple algebra and number sequences.  Our teaching covers these specific areas but, as with vocabulary, the importance of your contribution, as parents, cannot be over-emphasised.

How many pupils are in Examberry classes?

Our classes have a maximum of 8 pupils registered in each class, however, will allow a 9th child to attend as a one off if the child is unable to attend his/her regular class in that particular week.  We believe that our small friendly classes are the key to effective learning. 

What about homework?

Every week your child is given homework to supplement their learning in the classroom.  Homework is an essential part of the learning process and enables children to practise the techniques we teach them in class. It is not meant to be a chore but rather a reinforcement of the day’s learning and an aid to increased self-confidence. Homework enables pupils to apply their learning from the lessons – over the years, we have noticed that the children who are most conscientious about doing their homework are the ones who improve the most.

What about mock tests?

We run mock tests during the summer so that the children get used to exam conditions and the time constraints for completing papers. All tests are marked and assessed and we go through any corrections to ensure the children understand where errors occurred and learn from their mistakes.

What coursework does Examberry use?

Examberry produces its own high quality coursework which is not photocopied or reproduced from other companies. We can therefore provide students with the latest and most stimulating course work and advise parents on which supplementary work to purchase.

How long are the year 4 lessons?

Year 4 lessons are 2 hours long.

What do you teach in 4 lessons?

Year 4 sessions last 2 hours and are based on Maths and English although Verbal and Non verbal are also introduced and practised. The aim is to ensure that children have a strong grasp of the basics of the 11+ syllabus. During this year we work on understanding and accuracy rather than speed or test strategies. Classes are friendly and engaging and children are encouraged to express their ideas and develop the ability to work independently.

How long are the year 5 lessons?

Year 5 lessons last 2 hours and 45 minutes.

What do you teach in year 5 lessons?

Each 11+ session lasts 2 hours and 45 minutes based on Literacy and Numeracy which also includes the important verbal and non-verbal reasoning skills. The sessions are divided by an informal extension work, this aims to broaden the children’s general knowledge and vocabulary as well as their thinking skills using puzzles and quizzes. We also concentrate on revision and exam techniques, time management and memory skills, which are invaluable for success in these highly competitive exams.

Who are the tutors?

Examberry tutors are extremely experienced with a proven track record of success.  They are all educated to graduate or post-graduate level.  Some tutors have taught at grammar schools. All our tutors (as well as other Examberry staff) are DBS checked.

Why tutor your child?

Competition for Grammar School admission is fierce and the overwhelming majority of children who sit these exams have been extensively tutored.  The key to success lies not just in being tutored but in the quality of that tuition.  At Examberry we pride ourselves on having carefully analysed the exams and on having developed a successful formula for getting the best out of our students.

At Examberry we provide excellent tuition and give regular feedback and advice to parents about their child’s progress.  We will evaluate your child’s weaknesses and work on them and provide your child with encouragement along the way.  We want to ensure that your child is achieving in a happy environment which enables them to be successful in reaching their goals.  We firmly believe that good tuition and practice does make a difference and those children who receive good tuition really do improve, giving them a clear advantage over those who do not.