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11 Plus Subjects

Explore how grammar schools use different combinations of tests for entrance exams. Details include Maths, English, Verbal Reasoning, and Non-Verbal Reasoning

Do Grammar Schools Have Consistent Tests for the 11 Plus Exam?

There isn't a single set of standardized tests that all grammar schools adhere to nationwide. Instead, each region and sometimes even each individual school within a region, has the autonomy to determine which subjects they include in their 11 Plus exam. You can find a comprehensive list of the subjects used by specific grammar schools in the table provided at this link: Subjects Used for the 11 Plus. This table enables you to see the subjects used by each of the grammar schools in your area.

Why Are There No Standardized 11 Plus Exams Like There Are for GCSE and A Levels?

The grammar school system exhibits an interesting characteristic: there is no standardized approach to their entrance exams because each school is a law unto itself, and there is no hope of standardization on the horizon.

Even when multiple schools opt for the same Exam Providing Organizations, they retain the flexibility to cherry-pick specific components from the tests they administer. The disparities between schools are quite pronounced, and a few examples involving grammar schools with substantial student populations can help illustrate this point.

Consider Rainham Mark Grammar School, one of the largest grammar schools in the country with more than 1,500 students. Their entrance exam encompasses Mathematics, Non-Verbal Reasoning, Verbal Skills, and Writing.

On a similar scale, there's Nonsuch High School for Girls, which only employs English and Mathematics in their entrance examination.

In contrast, Caistor Grammar School, with 688 students, relies solely on Verbal Reasoning for their entrance assessment, while Sittingbourne Highstead Grammar School, boasting 827 students, stands as the only school in the country known to utilize a comprehensive array of six different elements in their entrance exam: English, Mathematics, Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning, Verbal Skills, and Writing.

To ensure your child is well-prepared for the various exam components they will face on 11 Plus Day, it is crucial to consult the tables mentioned earlier to identify the specific requirements. Additionally, it is advisable to regularly Check the Websites of the schools you are considering, as their criteria may undergo frequent changes – remember they are a law unto themselves!

Will My Primary School Cover All the Necessary 11 Plus Subjects?

It is highly unlikely that your primary school will allocate a significant amount of classroom time specifically for 11 Plus preparation. Two primary reasons account for this approach. Firstly, the 11 Plus exam is designed to be predominantly 'Tutor Proof,' as discussed in more detail in the article Why Do Schools Use the 11 Plus? Secondly, it's probable that many students in the class will not be taking the exam due to various reasons. Consequently, it would be inappropriate to use classroom time to teach subjects that not all students would benefit from.

11 Plus Maths

Mathematics plays a crucial role in the majority of 11 Plus exams and is, in fact, the most commonly tested subject across all grammar schools. The various mathematical disciplines that may be assessed include:

  • Algebra (at a basic level)
  • Arithmetic
  • Data Handling
  • Geometry
  • Measurement
  • Problem Solving

Most of these topics are typically covered to a reasonable extent in primary school as they are part of the Key Stage 2 (KS2) National Curriculum, which is designed for children aged 7 to 11. To identify any potential weaknesses and address them effectively, it might be beneficial to spend some time playing the quizzes available in the KS2 Maths section of the Education Quizzes website. This can aid in strengthening mathematical skills in preparation for the 11 Plus.

11 Plus English

You might be surprised to discover that more than 50 grammar schools, accounting for 30% of all grammar schools, do not include English as a component of the 11 Plus exam. This is because the primary emphasis of the exam is to evaluate the reasoning and mathematical abilities of children.

In cases where English is a required subject, the key disciplines assessed typically include:

  • Comprehension: Evaluating a student's ability to understand and interpret written passages.
  • Vocabulary and Spelling: Testing knowledge of word meanings, synonyms, antonyms, and correct spelling.
  • Grammar and Punctuation: Assessing proficiency in English grammar rules and the proper use of punctuation marks.

To gauge a child's competency in these areas, you can assess their skills by playing KS2 English Quizzes and addressing any weaknesses that may emerge.

Verbal Reasoning questions may be integrated into an English test, although they are often assessed separately, which will be discussed further below.

'Cloze Tests' may be utilized, where students are asked to complete sentences with missing words to evaluate their ability to use context clues effectively.

Creative Writing is frequently regarded as important, and in fact, 11 grammar schools include a separate paper for this, assessing a child's creativity and ability to construct engaging written compositions.

While Literacy Skills may encompass the capacity to analyze themes in literature and recognize figurative language, it is not a standard requirement in most cases.

Similar to the math section, the English component of the test typically does not necessitate extensive additional tutoring, as it should align with the KS2 English curriculum covered in primary school classes.

11 Plus Non-Verbal Reasoning

Many online resources use the acronym N.V.R. to refer to Non-Verbal Reasoning, a subject that often perplexes parents because it is rarely taught in schools.

Several grammar schools place particular importance on this segment of the exam, as it is commonly regarded as a true test of reasoning ability. Non-Verbal reasoning tests are akin to IQ tests you may have encountered online or on the Official Mensa Website. They require students to derive information from patterns and employ logical thinking to solve presented problems. A strong sense of spatial awareness is crucial, as it is considered one of the indicators of high IQ.

Questions in Non-Verbal Reasoning typically encompass the following broad-based topics:

  1. Analogies
  2. Code Breakers
  3. Complete the Series
  4. Matrices
  5. Odd One Out
  6. Shapes and Letters
  7. Similar Shapes

To gain insight into the breadth and complexity of questions that might be encountered, we recommend exploring the questions in Non Verbal Reasoning Quizzes. Please note that all questions in all 50 quizzes, totaling 500 questions, can be seen (but not played) without a subscription.

11 Plus Verbal Reasoning

The conventional definition of Verbal Reasoning entails the ability to grasp and analyze concepts conveyed through words. This category of questions comes in various formats, each of which is relatively self-explanatory:

  • Anagrams
  • Closest Meaning
  • Complete the Sum
  • Complete the Word
  • Compound Words
  • Following Instructions
  • Hidden Words
  • Insert a Letter
  • Letter Connections
  • Letter Series
  • Letters for Numbers
  • Letters for Symbols
  • Make a Word
  • Making Words from Larger Words
  • Missing Word
  • Move a Letter
  • Number Series
  • Opposite Meaning
  • Pick a Figure
  • Putting Words Into Groups
  • Questions about Words
  • Reading Information (Comprehension)
  • Related Numbers
  • Related Words
  • Same Meaning
  • Odd Ones Out
  • Word Connections
  • Word-Number Codes
  • Words That Cannot Be Made
  • Words with Multiple Meanings

Verbal Reasoning is not a subject that is typically addressed directly in school curriculum, but the English syllabus taught at the primary level generally includes most of its components.

However, if your goal is to prepare for admission to a grammar school that requires Verbal Reasoning skills, you can enhance your practice in this area by engaging with our Verbal Reasoning quizzes. These quizzes offer valuable practice opportunities to sharpen your Verbal Reasoning abilities.

It is worthy of note that both the 11 Plus Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning Quizzes found on the Education Quizzes website are frequently enjoyed by family members who are NOT taking the 11 Plus – especially mums and dads!

Lesser Used 11 Plus Subjects

Out of the 163 grammar schools, eleven of them include 'Creative Writing' as part of their requirements, and eight schools ask for 'Writing.' These subjects are extensively covered during KS2 English sessions in schools.

Additionally, nine grammar schools incorporate 'Verbal Skills' into their programs, which is synonymous with Verbal Reasoning and four schools mention 'Numerical Reasoning,' which is just plain 'Maths'!

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