What is the 11+
Children wanting to attend a local grammar school across the UK must sit an entrance examination commonly referred to as the the 11 Plus entrance exam. Cohort Tuition is based in the Midlands and specialises in tutoring towards the CEM 11+ tests in Gloucestershire, Walsall/Wolverhampton and the Birmingham area, thus for this guide we will refer to examinations taking place in the West Midlands and the Gloucestershire area, though this information may be relevant to other parts of the country were similar exams at taken. These exams, though completely optional, can be daunting and the application stages confusing to those new to the 11+. Cohort Tuition is here to help parents and students, in need of support, guidance and advice throughout this process. Within the West Midlands and the Gloucestershire area, children sit 11+ exams written by the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM). The Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring CEM is based at the School for Education in Durham University. CEM is a research group that produces entrance examinations for grammar schools and local authorities across the country. A precise syllabus for the exam in not available and nor are past papers from historical exams. There are however a plenty of resources produced by a variety of publishers to help aid pupils prepare for these exams. Many resources are generic; however, some are specific to CEM style 11+ examinations.
At Cohort Tuition, we produce our own as well as utilise a variety of carefully selected CEM specific and nonspecific resources to help our students effectively prepare for the CEM 11+ exams. The core skills assessed for the CEM 11+ exams are:
- Non-verbal reasoning
- Verbal reasoning
It is clear from discussion forums and conversations with administrators of the CEM written 11+ entrance exams, that the English and Maths portion of the assessment closely follow the National Curriculum. Though closely following the National What is the 11+ What happens after the exams How to prepare for the exam How to apply for the exam Curriculum, 11+ exams tend to test English and Maths skills at a much higher level than the typical year 6 child would possess at the beginning of the academic year.
CEM’s Maths element has an emphasis on solving numerical problems and applying numerical reasoning. There is a strong correlation with material taught as part of the National Curriculum, so students performing well at maths in school will be at an advantage. The test assesses a range of numerical reasoning skills including arithmetic, data handling, operations, and mathematical functions. Numerical problem solving is a key part of the primary booster classes and year 4 and 5 11+ course at Cohort Tuition, students work through key maths topics, practice key numerical skills and are taught how to utilise the skills they learn within a problem-solving setting in lessons.
Non-verbal reasoning is a component of the CEM 11+ entrance exam that is not taught as part of the primary curriculum in state schools. Non-verbal reasoning element of the 11+ tests involves understanding, interpreting and analysing visual data and solving problems using visual reasoning. Non-verbal reasoning questions appear in diagrammatic and pictorial form, questions involve shape and code sequences and candidates are required to deduce how they relate to each other.
English & Verbal Reasoning
The English aspect of the CEM 11+ plus test closely follows skills taught within the National Curriculum. Some of the areas covered include; comprehension, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, grammar, vocabulary and general literacy. A strong grasp of KS2 literacy will put a child in good stead for the English element of the CEM 11+ test. Although the English element of the CEM 11+ tests follow the National Curriculum, verbal reasoning is a component of the CEM 11+ entrance exam that is not taught as part of the primary curriculum in state schools. Verbal reasoning relies on a strong vocabulary that goes beyond the primary curriculum. Verbal reasoning includes following written instructions to solve word problems, having extensive vocabulary knowledge to answer synonym, antonym, cloze vocabulary, word order and comprehension questions.
How to apply for the exam
The grammar schools in Birmingham, Walsall/Wolverhampton and the Gloucestershire area have come together into different consortiums to make the application process easier for parents.
The following schools fall into the Birmingham Grammar schools Consortium –
- Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School for Boys Sutton Coldfield Boys only
- King Edward VI Aston School Aston Boys only
- King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys Boys only
- King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls Girls only
- King Edward VI Five Ways School Five Ways Boys and girls
- King Edward VI Handsworth School for Girls Handsworth Girls only
- King Edward VI Handsworth Grammar School for Boys Handsworth Boys only
- Sutton Coldfield Grammar School for Girls Sutton Coldfield Girls only
Exams are normally taken on the second Saturday of September at the beginning of year 6. The exam for children starting year 7 in September 2019 will be on Saturday the 8th of September 2018. To apply to sit the 11+ exam for any one of the any one of the Birmingham Grammar Schools please visit the official website.
The following schools fall into the Gloucestershire Grammar schools consortium –
- High School for Girls Gloucester Girls only
- Marling School Stroud Boys only
- Pate’s Grammar School Cheltenham Boys and girls
- Ribston Hall High School Gloucester Girls only
- Sir Thomas Rich’s School Gloucester Boys only
- Stroud High School Stroud Girls only
- The Crypt School Gloucester Girls and boys
Exams are normally taken on the third Saturday of September at the beginning of year 6. The exam for children starting year 7 in September 2019 will be on Saturday the 15th of September 2018. To apply to sit the 11+ exam for any one of the any one of the Gloucestershire Grammar Schools please visit the official website.
The following schools fall into the Shropshire, Walsall and Wolverhampton Consortium –
- Haberdashers’ Adams School Wolverhampton Boys only
- Newport Girls’ High School Wolverhampton Girls only
- Queen Mary’s Grammar School Walsall Boys only
- Queen Mary’s High School Walsall Girls only
- Wolverhampton Girls’ High School Wolverhampton Girls only
Exams are normally taken on the third Monday of September at the beginning of year 6. The exam for children starting year 7 in September 2019 will be on Monday the 19th of September 2018. To apply to sit the 11+ exam for any one of the any one of the Walsall and Wolverhampton grammar schools please visit the official website.
How and when to prepare for the exam?
The earlier the better! Children need to develop in broadly three different areas for 11+ success:
- Subject knowledge
- Exam practice
The following guidance will develop these three areas in a structured fashion over a reasonable time frame. The above skills cannot t be mastered in a few months. They require ongoing practice and attention.
The sooner a child starts working on core skills in maths and English the easier they will adapt to the big jump when they start learning 11+ specific material. A strong early primary education will help with this. You should be encouraging your child to regularly read to build their vocabulary and comprehension.
Attending a structured tutoring programme from as early as year 1 can help towards this. Our primary English and Maths Booster classes are a great precursor to 11+ preparation. Our booster classes help develop the following core areas:
Success for the clear majority of 11+ candidates in the 11+ entrance examination requires a base level of ability and for candidates to also be well prepared. Children need to work extremely hard to develop academic skills in the 11+ areas and develop excellent exam technique.
Student aspiring to sit the 11+ should start building their academic knowledge and skills ideally from year 4, speed, examination technique and consolidation of subject knowledge is normally undertaken in year 5 and finally the exam is taken in year 6. Cohort Tuition offers a structured 11+ tutoring program for year 4 children and year 5 children all the way up to the 11+ examinations at the beginning of year 6.
Create a revision schedule for your child closer to the exam, Cohort Tuition provides parents with a detailed termly report which will help devise parents devise a revision schedule based on their child’s strengths and areas requiring further development. Our 11+ intensive revision programme will help candidates revise effectively just before the real exams. In addition to this, regular reading, is a great way to develop a child’s core English skills to aide with 11+ preparation.
Practice, practice, practice !!!
Examination practice can be achieved via our termly mock assessments as well as our annual 11+ mock examinations weeks near the end of year 5. These are a great way to get valuable practice in a real exam scenario. The mock examinations weeks allow children to make their mistakes in a dummy exam scenario, with the most valuable outcome being lessons learnt from making these mistakes.
Speed comes with time and plenty of practice, children develop speed through tasks they complete during weekly 11+ tutoring lessons, our online BOFA 11+ timed assessments, end of term assessments and 11+ mock examinations weeks.
What happens after the exams?
Eleven plus examination test results are released mid October in year 6. Results are always received before the deadline for completing the Local Authority Preference. Regardless of the score a child receives, receiving the results is NOT the offer of a place.
Parents are now required to complete a Local Authority Preference form for their child. This can be obtained by contacting your child’s primary school and/or your local authority. This form must be submitted by the 31st of October for all in year 6 children.
All Local Authorities in England operate an equal preference system. This means if your child meets the criteria for two or more schools, your Local Authority will offer you a place at the school you have ranked highest on the Local Authority form. Therefore, if you put your chosen Grammar Schools first on your Local Authority form, but your child does not achieve the required standard in the entrance test, you will not put at risk your chance of being offered a place at any other school you have listed. Your child’s application for other schools will be treated in the same way as every other application.
You will receive an offer letter from your Local Authority confirming the school allocated after 1st March in year 6.