Criteria for the 11 Plus Exam: 6 Factors to Consider

Most students hoping to qualify for their preferred grammar school will likely prepare for their CEM test (Centre for Evaluation & Monitoring) or GL (Granada Learning) years in advance.

It’s always an exciting and nervous time for a student; naturally, exam anxiety can be high. Understanding the criteria for the 11 plus can help to focus extra study time and revision, increasing their chances of passing with flying colours!

In the last five years, there has been a 2.4% increase in the number of pupils taking the 11 Plus exam, so competition can be high and passing your exam isn’t always guaranteed in your choice of school.

In this guide, we look at the admissions process for your selective grammar schools, including how location, sibling admission and personal aptitude have a role to play.

•	How Can Your Child Prepare To Get In To Your Chosen Grammar Schools

What is the 11-plus exam?

The 11 Plus (also known as the 11+ or Eleven Plus) is an optional exam pupil aged 10/11 years can take in the last year of primary school to apply for their chosen independent or grammar school.

The 11 Plus exam tests skills in verbal, non-verbal & numerical reasoning. This type of exam is separated into small, timed sections, usually delivered by audio instructions. The content of CEM exams changes from year to year to reduce its predictability. For pupils to succeed in CEM exams, they must:

  • Have strong arithmetic skills
  • Have strong reasoning & problem-solving skills
  • Have a wide vocabulary
  • Be flexible and able to understand & respond to a wide range of question types & formats without being panicked by questions that may look unfamiliar.
  • Be able to work under time pressure.

•	Consider The Admissions Criteria And The Admissions Process For Your Local Grammar School

Criteria for the 11 Plus Exam

1. 11 Plus Exam Score

First and foremost, pupils must reach an 80% pass mark in their 11 Plus exam. However, this is a baseline result, and the qualification rate can vary depending on the school’s popularity.

2. Grammar School Location

Where you live can affect your application to your chosen school. When considering the 11 Plus exam results, schools will consider those living in the immediate catchment area. This could be as broad as a county or borough or as specific as several postcodes.

It’s not uncommon for families to move closer to the grammar school of choice, as location can matter just as much as exam results for some areas.

•	Most Grammar Schools Will Consider Academic Achievement Records Test Scores And 11 Exam Pass Mark

3. Quantity of applications to grammar schools

The qualification rate for the 11-plus exam differs around the UK. Some schools attract several thousand applicants for as few as 180 places. The 11 Plus exam results criteria may be stricter when there is an over-subscription to a school.

If a school receives applications from several pupils who have passed the 11-plus exam, they may need to conduct a tie-breaker to decide between two otherwise similar applications. Each school may be different in how they operate this.

4. Sibling priority

If your child has siblings who have also passed their 11 Plus exam, this is included in the criteria. Sibling priority means your chances are higher if you have an older brother or sister attending your desired school.

However, there may be limits, such as “siblings in Years 7 – 10 only at the time of admission”.

•	Your Local Grammar School May Have A Selective Entrance Exam

5. Star Pupils

In addition to the 11 Plus exam criteria, places at selective schools might prioritise admissions for those with exceptional academic, musical or sporting gifts. This can include those who have excelled in private tuition or extra circular activities.

6. Admissions Policy

Every school will have their own Admissions Policy, which manages quality, quantity, and other criteria after passing the 11 Plus exam. We recommend reading your first choice school policy in detail before your child sits on their 11 Plus exam to understand their criteria.

You can also ask for a copy of the application form to get an idea of what information will be asked in addition to exam results.

The School Admissions Code also governs local authority secondary school admissions in England and Wales. This lengthy document specifies what admissions authorities are and are not permitted to consider when allocating places.

•	Prepare To Apply To Competitive Grammar Schools With Practice Papers And Online Tutoring

11 Plus Online Tutoring

We take the stress out of 11 plus preparation for the pupils & the parents.

Our pupils quickly acquire the knowledge, skills & technique essential for 11+ success – our outstanding pass rate proves that our approach works!

  • Entrance Exam Programmes tailored to the exam your child will sit
  • Expert teaching by fully qualified teachers
  • Able, happy, and motivated pupils
  • Homework that consolidates learning
  • All this ensures that our pupils enjoy their 11+ journey – they even love doing homework!