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How Do You Know If Your Child Should Sit the 11 Plus Exam?

how do I know if my child should sit the 11 plus
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The 11 Plus exam is a test for children who want to go to grammar schools. Grammar schools are selective schools that focus on academic excellence. But how do I know if my child should sit the 11 plus? 

There are many factors to consider before deciding to take the 11 Plus exam. All these will be treated in this article. 

Additionally, the 11 Plus exam is not easy. It tests your child’s skills in verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, maths, and English. 

The pass mark varies depending on the school and the region, but it is usually around 80%. Only about 1 in 6 students who take the test get a place in a grammar school. 

How do I know if my child should sit the 11 Plus exam? If you want to learn more about the 11 Plus exam, continue reading. 

What is the 11 Plus Exam

The 11 Plus Exam is also known as the 11+ exam. It is an important educational assessment taken by students in some regions, primarily in the United Kingdom. This exam is designed to evaluate a child’s academic abilities and determine their suitability for grammar schools or selective secondary education. 

Later in this article, we will also answer the question, “How do I know if my child should sit the 11 plus?”

Moreover, this exam typically covers subjects like Mathematics, English, Verbal Reasoning, and Non-Verbal Reasoning. It aims to identify students who have the potential to excel in a more academically challenging environment. The format and content of the exam can vary depending on the specific region or school, so it’s essential to check the local requirements.

Types of 11 Plus Exams

If you’re a parent or guardian preparing your child for secondary school, you’ve asked “How do I know if my child should sit the 11 plus”. 

The truth is these tests are a significant milestone in a child’s educational journey.  They can open doors to some of the best schools in the UK. But what exactly are the types of 11 Plus exams you need to know about? 

Let’s break it down for you in plain and simple terms.

  • Mathematics

The math portion of the 11 Plus exam assesses a child’s numeracy skills. Questions range from basic arithmetic to more complex problem-solving, so a solid understanding of math concepts is crucial.

  • English

This section evaluates a child’s English language skills. It typically includes comprehension, vocabulary, grammar, and creative writing exercises. Reading and writing are at the heart of this test.

  • Verbal Reasoning

In this exam, children are tested on their ability to think logically and solve problems using words and language. It’s all about deciphering codes, finding similarities, and making connections.

  • Non-Verbal Reasoning

Unlike verbal reasoning, this section focuses on problem-solving without the use of words. It includes questions on patterns, shapes, sequences, and spatial awareness.

  • Multiple Choice vs. Written

Some 11 Plus exams are multiple-choice, where students choose the correct answer from a list. Others are written, requiring more in-depth responses. It’s essential to know which format your child will face.

  • Subject Variations

Depending on the school or region, the content and format of the 11 Plus exams can vary. Some schools may have additional tests in subjects like Science or even foreign languages.

  • Grammar School vs. Independent School Exams

The type of 11 Plus exam your child takes can differ between grammar schools and independent schools. Be sure to research and prepare accordingly.

When and Where the Exam is Typically Held

So, you’ve gotten the types of 11 Plus exams for your child. Now you’re wondering when and where these important tests usually take place. Let’s dive into it in a straightforward and friendly manner.

When is the 11 Plus Exam Held?

The 11 Plus exams are typically held when your child is in Year 6. This means they are around 10 to 11 years old. These exams usually take place during the autumn term, usually between September and October. 

However, specific dates can vary depending on the school or area. So it’s essential to check with your child’s prospective schools or local education authorities for precise timing.

Where is the 11 Plus Exam Held?

Now, let’s talk about where these exams are usually conducted. The 11 Plus exams are administered in various locations, including:

  • Grammar Schools

If your child is applying for a grammar school, they will likely take the exam at the school itself. Grammar schools usually have their testing facilities or use their premises for the exams.

  • Local Test Centers

Some areas have designated test centres where multiple schools conduct their 11 Plus exams. 

  • Independent Schools

However, if your child is aiming for an independent school, the exams might be held at the school itself. Independent schools often have their unique admissions processes.

  • Community Halls or Libraries

In some cases, exams may be held in community halls, libraries, or other public spaces. This is more common in areas with a high number of applicants.

  • Online Exams

On the other hand, with the advancement of technology, some schools now offer the option to take the 11 Plus exam online. 

We know this doesn’t explain the question “How do I know if my child should sit the 11 plus”. Keep reading to discover more.

How Do I Know If My Child Should Sit the 11 Plus Exam?

Are you wondering if the 11 Plus exam is the right fit for your child’s academic journey? Well, let’s treat this for you in the best possible way. 

Assessing Your Child’s Academic Abilities

First and foremost, it’s crucial to assess your child’s academic abilities. Consider the following:

  • Academic Performance

Take a look at your child’s school reports and grades. Are they consistently performing well in subjects like Math and English? Strong academic performance is often an indicator of readiness for the exam.

  • Practice Tests

Many families choose to have their child take practice tests to gauge their readiness. These tests mimic the format of the 11 Plus exams and can give you insights into your child’s strengths.  These tests could also show areas that may need improvement.

  • Tutoring or Preparation

Some children may benefit from additional tutoring or preparation for this exam. Assess whether your child is receptive to this kind of support and if it helps boost their confidence and skills.

Considering Your Child’s Learning Style

Another essential factor is your child’s learning style. Here’s what to think about:

  • Learning Preferences

Does your child thrive in a structured learning environment? Are they self-motivated learners? Consider whether the format of the 11 Plus exam aligns with your child’s learning preferences.

  • Test-Taking Skills

Some children excel in test-taking scenarios, while others may find it stressful. Assess how your child typically handles exams and whether they have the resilience and confidence to perform well under pressure.

  • Interest and Motivation

Is your child genuinely motivated to attend a selective school? Discuss their goals and aspirations to determine if they are enthusiastic about the opportunities that the 11 Plus can provide.

How do I know if my child should sit the 11 plus? Check out the factors we’ve explored above, and genuinely give yourself answers. 

Benefits and Drawbacks 

Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of the 11 Plus exam:

Benefits of the 11 Plus Exam

The 11 Plus exam comes with its fair share of advantages:

  • Access to Selective Schools

One of the most significant benefits is that it opens the doors to selective schools. These institutions often offer high-quality education, smaller class sizes, and additional resources, providing a more tailored learning experience for your child.

  • Academic Challenge

The 11 Plus exam challenges students academically. It encourages them to excel in subjects like math and English, which can foster critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

  • Positive Peer Environment

Selective schools often have motivated and academically driven peers. This can create a positive learning environment, where your child is surrounded by like-minded students.

  • Future Opportunities

Doing well in the 11 Plus can lead to scholarships and bursaries, easing the financial burden of private education and opening up even more opportunities for your child’s future.

Drawbacks of the 11 Plus Exam

However, it’s essential to consider the drawbacks as well:

  • High Pressure

The 11 Plus exam can be stressful for both parents and children. The pressure to perform well can lead to anxiety and affect your child’s well-being.

  • Not Suitable for All

Also, some children may not thrive in the competitive atmosphere of selective schools. Every child is unique, and the 11 Plus may not be the right fit for everyone.

  • Inequality

Moreover, critics argue that the 11 Plus system can perpetuate educational inequality. Not all children have access to the same resources or opportunities for exam preparation, potentially disadvantaging some.

  • Emotional Impact

The exam’s outcome can have a significant emotional impact on your child. Success can boost confidence, but failure can lead to disappointment and a loss of self-esteem.

Preparing for the 11 Plus Exam

Great! You have gotten clarity on the “how do I know if my child should sit the 11 plus” question. However, is your child prepared enough?

Getting ready for the 11 Plus exam can be a journey filled with challenges and excitement. Let’s break down the key steps to help your child succeed.

Choosing the Right Preparation Resources

  • Practice Papers

Start with practice papers designed for the 11 Plus. These mimic the actual exam format, allowing your child to get comfortable with the types of questions they’ll encounter.

  • Workbooks and Guides

Furthermore, look for workbooks and revision guides specific to the 11 Plus subjects. They often provide explanations and examples to reinforce your child’s understanding.

  • Online Resources

Many websites offer free or paid 11 Plus resources, including interactive quizzes and tutorials. These can be a valuable supplement to traditional materials.

Finding a Suitable Tutor or Coaching Center

  • Assess Your Child’s Needs

Consider your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Some children benefit from one-on-one tutoring, while others thrive in a group setting. Assess what suits your child best.

  • Recommendations

Seek recommendations from friends, family, or school counsellors. They may know reputable tutors or coaching centres in your area.

  • Interview Potential Tutors

However, if you opt for a tutor, interview them to ensure they align with your child’s goals and teaching style. Ask about their experience and approach to tutoring.

Creating a Study Schedule

  • Consistency is Key

Establish a regular study routine that includes breaks. Consistency helps build good study habits.

  • Balanced Subjects

Allocate study time for each subject, focusing on areas where your child needs improvement.

  • Practice and Revision

Dedicate time to practising past papers and revising key concepts. This will build confidence and familiarity with the exam format.

Tips for Managing Exam Stress

Below are some tips to help you manage exam stress:

  • Stay Positive

Encourage a positive attitude. Remind your child that exams are an opportunity to showcase their skills.

  • Relaxation Techniques

Teach relaxation techniques like deep breathing or mindfulness to manage anxiety.

  • Healthy Lifestyle

In addition, ensure your child gets enough sleep, eats well, and stays active. Physical and mental health go hand in hand.

  • Mock Exams

Consider arranging mock exams to simulate the real testing environment. This can reduce anxiety and increase confidence.


Now, we’ve explored the question “How do I know if my child should sit the 11 plus”. However, deciding whether your child should sit the 11 Plus exam involves careful consideration of their academic abilities, learning style, and aspirations. 

Assess their academic performance and readiness, and think about their learning preferences. Remember, the 11 Plus exam is just one pathway to education, and it’s essential to choose what aligns best with your child’s unique needs and goals. 

Whether you decide to go for it or not, your child’s well-being and happiness should always be the top priority. Make the choice that feels right for your family and supports your child’s growth and development.

FAQs on how do I know if my child should sit the 11 plus

Are there different types of 11 Plus Exams?

Yes, there are different types of 11 Plus Exams, including the CEM (Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring) and GL Assessment, which may have variations in content and format.

Is the 11 Plus Exam pass or fail, or are there different scoring levels?

The 11 Plus Exam does not have a strict pass or fail; instead, students are ranked based on their scores. Higher scores increase the chances of gaining admission to selective schools.

Can I appeal the results of the 11 Plus Exam if I’m not satisfied?

Yes, in some cases, you can appeal the results of the 11 Plus Exam if you believe there was an error in the process or if you have valid grounds for appeal.


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