What is the 11 plus?
The Eleven Plus test is a selective examination given to children in their last year of primary school (year 6) to determine whether the child is suited to the academic rigours of a grammar school education. The 11 plus exam is used extensively by grammar schools in Bucks, Berkshire Kent and Essex to select children based on academic ability. Until recently most local authorities and schools used NFER 11+ exams papers administered by GL Assessment. However more LEAs and some schools are now opting for an 11+ exam set by the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring at Durham University which is referred to as the Durham CEM test, which encompasses English, maths, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning. Approximately 30 percent of children qualify for a grammar school place each year, and around a further 5% are deemed qualified after a successful appeal against non-qualification. Some LEAs allocate places by catchment and others by score.


What is the 11+ Durham CEM exam?

The CEM exam assesses performance in verbal, numerical and non-verbal reasoning and the exam content changes each year. The verbal reasoning section includes comprehension and reading skills and a wide knowledge of vocabulary is an advantage. The numerical section tests mental arithmetic and recognition of mathematical patterns and includes problem solving.


What does the 11+ exam consist of?
Each local authority sets their own content and some schools act independently to decide what will be covered in the exam. This means that some children will sit four separate exams in mathematics, English, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning where as others may do just Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning papers.


Bucks 11+ (CEM Durham)

There are two tests (approx 45-50 mins each) comprising of questions on verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning and numerical reasoning.


Berkshire 11+ (GL Assessment)

There are two tests (approx 45-50 mins each) comprising of questions on verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning.


Past Papers & Practice Papers
CEM does not publish any practice books and tries to keep the circulation of the materials to a minimum to maintain the fairness of the tests.

GL Assessment – A wide range of material and practice books and papers are available.


Will parents be able to see the preparation papers?
CEM – The preparation papers will stay in school at all times and are destroyed after the familarisation session.


How are the tests marked?
They are machine-marked. The Bucks and Berkshire tests are in multiple-choice format and are machine readable (OMR).


What is the pass mark?
The pass mark is different in each LEA and may vary from year to year. This is because there is only a set number of grammar school places available so the pass mark has to remain in line with the number of children qualifying and the number of places available.

The raw score (the number of question the child got correct in the test) is standardised to take into account the age of the child and the difficulty of exam. Parents will need to established the standardised pass mark and weighting for their own region and in some cases individual schools. In Bucks the standardised pass mark for the past few years has been 121 and Berkshire the standardised score is 111. However schools in Berkshire (Slough Consortium) have their own cut off score due to huge competition for places and the standardised score varies from school to school.


What is ‘standardisation’?
Standardisation is the process by which a raw score is mathematically adjusted to be on a readily understandable score. This allows standardised scores from more than one test to be meaningfully compared or added together to give a fair indication of how well your child scored compared to everyone else taking the test. The lowest score is usually 69-70 and the highest is 140-141. Two of the main adjustments applied in the standardisation process takes the child’s age and difficulty of the test into account. The adjustments for age generally only affect a child’s score by a few marks.


What should my child be aiming to score on practice papers?
Nearer to the exam your child should be scoring around 90%. However published practice papers do vary considerably in difficulty, some are far too easy and some are much more difficult than the actual 11+ exam. As a guideline a percentile rank per test of 85% or more indicates a possible pass but again this depends on the material used.


When will the 11+ exam take place?
The exams are taken in September. This allow parents the chance to finalise secondary school preferences by the end of October.


How are the tests marked?
They are machine-marked. The Bucks and Berkshire tests are in multiple-choice format and will be machine readable (OMR).


Is the exam format important?
The format does not greatly affect the preparation that is required but it is necessary to establish the format (either multiple choice/standard or both) to ensure children feel comfortable with the different styles of papers – this is especially iimportant if they are sitting exams in different local authorities e.g. both Bucks & Berkshire.


How do I find out about admission information for the schools in my area?
It’s important to contact your Local Education Authority’s Admission’s Department as well as each individual school directly to ensure you receive up to date and precise information.