11+ Guide

Eleven Plus Guide

What is the 11+Exam?

The 11+ is an exam used in some areas in the UK to select pupils in Year 6 when they are 10 or 11 years old for top grammar schools. Given test aims to find the most academic students. After all, not every child passes the exam. For those who do to attend a grammar school can be very rewarding. They key to success in the 11+ exam is high levels of confidence and capability in core Maths and English skills. Pupils speed, accuracy and exam technique will be put to the test and they will need to be able to demonstrate verbal and non-verbal reasoning skills. . The 11+ exam that your child sits will be differ depending on which area you live in and the school your child is looking to attend.Two of the main types of exams are the CEM (Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring) and the GL Assessment. You can find out more about the differences between the two exams.

CEM Exam (Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring)

The Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring is a research group based at the School for Education, University of Durham. They produce 11+ tests for schools and local authorities. Since 2013, many schools and regions have decided to use the CEM 11+ test in place of GL Assessment tests.

CEM exams contain verbal, non-verbal and numerical reasoning. However, practice papers are not published for these exams.

Content of CEM exams maps are closely to the National Curriculum areas.

Topics cover:

  • Word recognition
  • Word decoding
  • Comprehension
  • Spelling
  • General mathematics
  • Mental arithmetic
  • Non-verbal reasoning

CEM have no set system for their exams what can change every year or event between schools.

Some examples of previous years exams have been:

  • Mixed content in multiple papers e.g. one exam combines English and verbal reasoning and the other combines Maths and non-verbal reasoning;
  • Schools selecting to cover just one discipline;
  • Four papers each covering a separate subject;
  • Both multiple-choice and assimilated questions;
  • Timings allocated to each section, so children need to carefully manage the time they spend on each section;

GL (Granada Learning) Exam

Previously known as NFER, in 2007 NFER was purchased by Granada Learning and re-named ‘GL Assessment’. Since that time, GL Assessment have developed and administered 11+ exams in the majority of grammar schools in the UK. The Test contains of two papers English and Maths and the child takes both on the same day.


GL Assessment paper usually has a time limit of 50 minutes.

Features will be:

  • A 2-page document followed by 18 comprehension questions
  • 4 questions assessing word meaning
  • 3 grammar questions
  • 8 questions identifying spelling errors in sentences
  • 8 questions identifying errors in the use of capital letters and punctuation
  • 8 questions assessing vocabulary, where the child needs to choose the best word from a list that will complete the sentence


The 11+ Maths test contains 50 questions with a time limit of 45 minutes. These tests normally contain multiple choices.

Included categories in a test:

  • Number: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division;
  • Number: fractions, decimals, prime numbers, prime factors, highest common factor and lowest common multiple, percentages;
  • Measurement: money, time, metric system, perimeter and area, distance, speed and time, volume of cubes and cuboids;
  • Statistics: averages, simple ratio, column graphs, pie charts, co-ordinates;
  • Algebra and patterns;
  • Geometry: angle calculations, reflection and rotation, shapes;
  • Probability;


An Exam has 80 questions, what need to complete in 50 minutes.

There are 21 types of question set by GL Assessment for the 11+, although in some areas not all the types will appear on the question paper. The format of the papers may be either ‘standard’ format (no answer options are provided and the child must work out the answer from scratch) or multiple choice, where five possible answer options are provided on the answer paper.


Non-Verbal reasoning tests are designed to assess how well a child can investigate visual information and solve problems by using visual logic. Normally Exam papers are 40-minute long. They are often divided into 4 sections of 20 questions with an allowance of 10 minutes per section.

Topics covered:

  • Identifying which shape is the odd one out;
  • Working out which diagram comes next in a sequence;
  • Working out cube nets and how shapes will look when folded;
  • Mirror images and reflections;
  • Finding 2 identical shapes in a series;
  • Rotations and symmetry;

How to count the score of 11+ Exams?

Below is a section of table which examining bodies use to calculate the score.

In this example the paper has 40 questions. The raw score is the student’s actual score e.g. 30 out of 40 and the age in months is shown across the top. If the pass rate was set at 122 you can see below which students will have passed the paper depending on their age and the raw score.

Raw score Age 10.5 Age 10.6 Age 10.7 Age 10.8 Age 10.9 Age 10.10 Age 10.11 Age 10.12 Age 11.1
30 119 119 118 118 118 118 117 117 117
31 122 121 121 121 120 120 120 120 119
32 124 124 124 123 123 123 123 122 122
33 127 127 127 126 126 126 126 125 125
34 131 130 130 130 129 129 129 129 128
35 134 134 134 133 133 133 133 132 132
36 139 139 138 138 138 137 137 137 137

The Benefits of Passing the 11+ Exams

For many pupils, passing the 11+ exam opens new opportunities in their education and future careers.

According to the Grammar Schools Association, in GCSE results, grammar school students perform better than pupils from other schools around the UK. There are also indications that Grammar School pupils make higher progress from KS3 to KS4 than other students.

Passing the 11+ exam and winning a place at a grammar school gives access to a comprehensive education and the opportunity to study subjects that are not offered at state schools.

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