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How do Schools Use the 11 Plus?

Discover when and how the 11 Plus exam is taken, how it's marked, and what happens after. Insights into interviews, parental statements, and school preferences

When is the 11 Plus Exam Taken?

The exams are usually taken in September, at the start of the last year in primary school. Despite its name, most children are only ten when they take the 11 Plus.

The reason 11 Plus exams are taken so early in the year is to allow plenty of time for applications to secondary schools. For details of how the exam fits in with the primary school year please see The 11 Plus at Primary School.

When are the Results of the 11 Plus Published?

The results are usually available in October, so parents have several months in which to apply to selective schools armed with their child’s 11 Plus results.

How is the 11 Plus Marked?

Rather than there being a 'pass' or a 'fail', students are compared to one another. This is distinctly different to most other tests and exams that children encounter. To better understand the selection process, envision it as ultimately generating a list where the highest scorer ranks at the top, the lowest scorer at the bottom, and all other results fall somewhere in between.

Is Age Considered When Marking the 11 Plus Exam?

Taking into account the child's age is crucial because there can be significant age variations among children within the same year group when they sit for the 11 plus exam.

Typically, children will be in their final year of primary school, Year 6, when they take the test. In this year group, a child born on September 1st is likely to be the oldest candidate, while a child born on August 31st is almost certain to be the youngest.

Each school will have its unique approach to determine the extent to which age is considered in the marking process. To ensure fairness to all, different weightings are applied to each month of age.

Are Some Subjects Given a Higher Weighting When Marking the 11 Plus Exam?

Often, reasoning exams, especially non-verbal reasoning, are assigned greater importance in the assessment process because they are seen as more reliable indicators of a child's potential. See 11 Plus Sample Questions to explore the relative difficulty of each subject for your child

How Are 11 Plus Scores Used by Schools?

Once the school has finalized the calculations to determine a fair ranking, they offer placements to students at the top of the list, while those at the bottom do not receive offers. This puts students in the middle (borderline) in a situation where a decision needs to be made.

There is no nationally agreed-upon policy for handling borderline cases in the 11 Plus exam; instead, individual schools are given the discretion to decide. Some schools primarily rely on 11 Plus marks to determine admissions, while others employ various procedures, as outlined below:

Will My Child Be Required to Attend an Interview After the 11 Plus Exam?

Whether or not your child needs to attend an interview post the 11 Plus exam varies based on the policy of each individual school. If an interview is scheduled, here are some sample questions that might be posed:

  • What is your favorite school subject, and why do you enjoy it?
  • Are there any subjects you find challenging or like the least?
  • Can you tell me about a recent book you've read? Did you find it enjoyable?
  • Do you have any hobbies or activities you are passionate about?
  • How do you typically spend your free time?
  • Have you achieved any notable successes or certifications in exams outside of school, such as music grades?
  • Is there anything specific you would like to learn or participate in at your new school?
  • Have you encountered any recent difficulties or challenges, and how did you overcome them?

Facing an interview of this nature can appear daunting for a young child, so practicing at home can provide valuable preparation. Nevertheless, it's crucial to communicate that it's perfectly acceptable not to have answers to every question, as unexpected inquiries often arise during interviews, requiring spontaneous responses.

Do Parent Interviews Play a Part in Grammar School Acceptance?

Certain schools prefer to receive a statement from parents to aid in evaluating the child's suitability for a grammar school education. This statement may include questions about the student's background, interests, and motivation.

Do Any Further Requirements Follow the 11 Plus Exam?

Some schools may request extra confirmation to ensure a child's suitability for admission. These requirements could include:

  • Referrals or recommendations from the child's primary school.
  • Supplementary assessments, particularly in subjects like mathematics and English, if they were not prominently featured in the initial 11 Plus exam.
  • Verification of residential address, as certain schools may give preference to applicants residing closer to the school.
  • Sibling policy, where some schools prioritize applicants who already have a sibling enrolled at the institution.

What Should I Do After We Receive the 11 Plus Exam Results?

Typically, you will be required to submit a form by the end of October, clearly indicating your preferred school choices. You'll likely be asked to list your top three preferences. It's crucial to ensure these choices are ranked in order of priority, as placements will be allocated based on the order in which you prioritize them.

When Will We Know If We Have Secured a Place at the Preferred School?

March 1st is the usual 'Allocation Day' and on this day you should know whether or not your application(s) have been successful.

What Can I Do if the 11 Plus Results are Not as Good as Expected?

If the results are disappointing or not as expected then see our article on 11 Plus Appeal Procedure

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