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11+ Exam Overview

June 7, 2024


The 11+ exam is a pivotal assessment used by many grammar and selective schools in the UK to determine admission. This comprehensive guide provides an overview of the 11+ exam, detailing its structure, the subjects covered, and what students can expect on the day of the exam.

Purpose of the 11+ Exam

The 11+ exam, also known as the Eleven Plus, is designed to assess the academic abilities of students in their final year of primary school. The results help grammar and selective schools identify students who would benefit from an academically rigorous education.

According to the Good Schools Guide, the exam plays a crucial role in determining a child's eligibility for entry into these schools.

11+ Exam Overview

Who Takes the 11+ Exam

The 11+ exam is typically taken by students aged 10 or 11 in Year 6. It is used primarily by grammar schools and some private schools in the UK. The test is usually administered in September or early October, with results announced later in the autumn term.

Structure of the 11+ Exam

The structure of the 11+ exam can vary depending on the region and the examining body. However, it generally consists of several papers that assess different subjects.

  • Exam Format: The 11+ exam usually includes multiple papers, each focusing on a specific subject area. The duration of each paper can range from 45 minutes to an hour.
  • Timing and Scheduling: The exam is typically scheduled for the morning, with breaks between papers. Schools provide specific timings and instructions closer to the exam date.
Subjects Covered in the 11+ Exam

Subjects Covered in the 11+ Exam

The 11+ exam covers four main subjects: English, mathematics, verbal reasoning, and non-verbal reasoning.


  • Reading Comprehension: This section tests a student's ability to understand and interpret texts, including fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Students may be asked to answer multiple-choice or short-answer questions based on the passages.
  • Writing: Students might be required to complete creative writing tasks, essays, or comprehension-based writing exercises. These tasks assess their ability to express ideas clearly and coherently.
  • Grammar and Spelling: This section evaluates knowledge of grammar rules, punctuation, and spelling. Typical questions include identifying grammatical errors and correcting spelling mistakes.


  • Arithmetic: This part tests basic arithmetic skills, including addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Students must solve straightforward numerical problems accurately.
  • Problem-Solving: Students are presented with more complex mathematical problems that require logical thinking and the application of mathematical concepts.

Verbal Reasoning:

  • Question Types: Verbal reasoning questions assess a student's ability to think logically and understand written information. Types of questions include analogies, synonyms, antonyms, and logical sequences.
  • Skills Assessed: This section measures vocabulary, comprehension, and critical thinking skills.

Non-Verbal Reasoning:

  • Question Types: Non-verbal reasoning questions involve visual puzzles, such as pattern recognition, sequences, and spatial awareness tasks.
  • Skills Assessed: This section evaluates a student's ability to interpret and analyse visual information.
11+ Exam Overview

What to Expect on Exam Day

Understanding what to expect on exam day can help reduce anxiety and ensure students are well-prepared.

  • Exam Environment: The exam is typically held in a quiet, formal setting, such as a school hall or classroom. Students should arrive early to settle in and get comfortable.
  • Instructions and Procedures: Students will receive clear instructions before each paper. It is important to listen carefully and follow the guidelines provided by the invigilators.
  • Breaks and Timing: The exam schedule includes breaks between papers. Students should use these breaks to relax and prepare for the next section.

Preparation Tips for the 11+ Exam

Effective preparation is key to success in the 11+ exam.

  • Study Schedule: Create a consistent study schedule leading up to the exam. Allocate specific times for each subject to ensure balanced preparation.
  • Practice Papers: Regularly use practice papers to familiarise yourself with the exam format and question types. Simulate exam conditions by timing yourself during these practice sessions.
  • Revision Techniques: Employ effective revision techniques, such as summarising notes, using flashcards, and practising past questions.
  • Managing Stress: Maintain a positive mindset and manage stress through regular breaks, physical activity, and relaxation techniques.

Common Questions About the 11+ Exam

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the 11+ exam:

  • How to Register: Registration details vary by region. Parents should check with their local education authority or the specific school for registration procedures.
  • Materials to Bring: Students should bring essential materials such as pencils, erasers, and a water bottle. Specific requirements will be provided by the school.
  • Results Reporting: Results are typically reported in the autumn term. Parents and students will receive the scores along with information about the next steps.


The 11+ exam is a significant milestone in a student's academic journey. By understanding the exam structure, subjects covered, and what to expect on exam day, students can prepare effectively and approach the exam with confidence.

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