Welcome to our 2023 11+ exam guide for grammar school entry.
Parents’ 11+ Exam guide for Grammar School Entry
Your 11+ Exam 2023 key dates
Ideally, you will have decided which grammar schools you are considering. It is a good idea to visit each school with your child, to get a better feel and see if it is the right environment for them.
- April 2023: Most grammar schools will open their registration in April or May and set a deadline around June or July for parents to register their child for the 11+ exam. There is some variability, so please check these dates with your individual schools. Buckinghamshire automatically enters all primary children for the 11+ exam and operates an opt-out system for parents who must actively choose to withdraw their child from the process.
- September 2023: For most grammar schools, the 11+ exam will occur during the first two weeks in September 2023. There is some variability, so please check the date with your individual schools.
- October 2023: For most grammar schools, 11+ results will be posted in mid-October 2023.
- March 2024: School allocations are confirmed on 01 March 2024.
- September 2024: New intake begins Year 7 at each of the 164 grammar
Check which 11+ Exam Board your selected grammar school uses
There are two main exam boards for the 11+ Exam:
GL Assessment (previously known as NFER) administer the 11+ exams for most grammar schools in
The GL 11+ exam cover English, maths, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning (spatial awareness). Each school can choose any combination of these to best fit their selection criteria.
CEM developed by the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring at Durham University administer the 11+ exams for
- Birmingham grammar schools using 11 plus exam CEM Select
- CEM 11 plus Dorset grammar schools 2023
- Lancashire grammar schools using 11 plus exam CEM Select
- Kent grammar schools using 11 plus exam CEM Select (Medway 11 plus exam CEM Select)
- Northern Ireland grammar schools using 11 plus exam CEM Select
- Wiltshire grammar schools using 11 plus exam CEM Select
The CEM 11+ exam covers verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning and numerical reasoning. (The verbal reasoning exam includes many of the skills tested in the GL English exam; the numerical reasoning exam includes many of the skills tested in the GL maths exam).
A mixture of GL and CEM are used by:
- 11 plus Devon grammar schools 2023
- Essex 11 plus grammar schools entry 2023
- 11 plus Hertfordshire grammar schools 2023
- Manchester 11 plus grammar schools 2023 (Trafford independent schools)
- 11 plus Yorkshire grammar schools 2023.
In both GL and CEM exams, there is a strong emphasis on core skills in English and maths; including spelling, punctuation, grammar, comprehension, and vocabulary, including arithmetic skills, problem-solving, and data manipulation. Non-verbal reasoning assesses spatial awareness, pattern-spotting and logical skills.
What is a Grammar School?
Grammar schools are selective state-funded secondary schools that have a strong focus on academic achievement. These schools select their pupils into Year 7 by means of an academic examination called the 11+ or “11 plus”. A small number of grammar schools also have an intake into Year 8 or Year 9 and test pupils with an equivalent 12+ or 13+ Exam. Grammar schools do not charge fees, and competition for places is generally very high.
There are over 3000 state-funded secondary schools in the UK, and out of these currently, 164 are state-funded grammar schools, with approximately 167,000 pupils. Grammar schools can be co-educational or single-sex, although most single-sex grammar schools now accept both boys and girls in the sixth form.
164 grammar schools are located in 36 English local authorities. There are a further 69 grammar schools in Northern Ireland, but none in Wales or Scotland. It is not always necessary for you to live in an area with state grammar schools for your child to gain a place at one. A few grammar schools recruit from outside their catchment, while others offer boarding facilities. Most grammar schools, however, give preference to those living within their catchment areas.
Not all selective grammar schools have ‘grammar’ in their name, e.g. Dr Challoner’s High School. Also, many schools with ‘grammar’ in their name are actually fee-paying independent schools, e.g. Bradford Grammar School. Independent Schools select their pupils using their own bespoke Year 7 School Entrance Exam (sometimes referred to as the 11+), which occurs in January of Year 6 and has some similarities to the 11+ grammar school exam.
What are the Grammar School benefits?
As grammar school pupils are all academically selected and of similar high abilities, teachers are arguably able to stretch and challenge their pupils further, making more effective progress in lessons than a comprehensive, mixed-ability school. Grammar schools are some of the highest performing schools listed in national league tables. According to the Sutton Trust Report (2008), grammar school pupils make greater progress throughout Key Stage 3 and 4 and achieve better GCSEs and A levels than pupils from other school types.
Another perceived advantage of attending a grammar school is that of social mobility. Grammar schools have a track record of producing students who have very successful careers and develop large networks of influential friends. A recent study conducted by the University of Bath, Bristol and the Institute of Education at the University of London concluded that pupils who attend a grammar school end up earning more than those who attend comprehensive schools.
What is the 11+ Exam?
The 11+ Exam (or “11-plus”) is a selective entrance exam generally taken at the beginning of Year 6, generally in September.
The content varies between different areas of the country but will generally be based on some or all of the following types of questions: English, maths, verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning. It may involve sitting two or even three eleven plus examinations. Sometimes the tests will be of a different kind, e.g. non-verbal reasoning and a verbal reasoning test and in other cases, the tests will be the same, e.g. two verbal reasoning tests.
When should we start revising for the 11+ exam?
The best time to start preparing your child for the 11+ depends entirely on their current attainment levels and experience. Your son or daughter may only need a few weeks or months of preparation as the 11+ exam approaches, focusing on practising exam papers and developing the exam technique and confidence. Most children benefit from several months of support, often regular weekly tuition, building rigour and polish across core skills, being fully stretched and challenged academically and then shaping their performance towards the demands of the exam. Any support or tuition focused on preparing for the 11+ exam also brings a significant and broader benefit to your child’s in terms of their general school work and confidence.
Do we need a tutor for the 11+ exam?
Some parents will choose to prepare their child using resources available, such as the series of Bond 11+ books or GL and CEM past papers; other parents will choose to send their child to 11+ group tuition with classes outside of school hours; other parents may choose to enlist the services of a professional tutor or teacher, who specialises in preparing children for the 11+ exam.
Top FREE PRACTICE 11 plus past papers for grammar school entry 2023
- 11 plus non-verbal reasoning tips and our Step-by-step guide to passing the 11 plus.
- Our helpful 11 Plus Guide for parents and 11 plus practice past papers.
- What’s the 11 plus pass mark and the 11 plus exam board differences?
- Grammar schools league table 2023
- 11 plus cloze test practice
- Our 11 plus maths tests
- 11 plus maths papers
- Our 11 plus exam papers
- 11 plus verbal reasoning papers