Starting secondary school for anyone can be scary. It is a big change, transitioning from primary school to secondary school! You may feel the pressure even more if you want to attend a grammar school or a private school. This is because you will have to take the 11 plus exam in order to get in. This exam may seem overwhelming and daunting. This article will outline any questions you have about it, to reduce those fears.
Each year, the number of questions a student needs to answer correctly to pass the 11 Plus exam varies. This score depends on factors such as the area the grammar school is in or whether you are in the right catchment area. However, usually the accepted pass mark is usually about 80%. Grammar schools and private schools are searching for the students who achieve the highest scores on the 11 Plus exam. Therefore, the pass mark is very high. However, with hard work, it is achievable.
This score may seem impossible to achieve. However, by breaking down how the exam is marked and what your score means in this article, hopefully, it will seem less daunting.
What is the 11 Plus exam out of?
The number of marks and questions in 11 Plus exams varies every year and each school may have different amounts. Some grammar schools only give you one paper to sit, whilst others give you multiple papers to test each individual skill. For example, Maths and English papers can be assessed individually or some exam boards integrate the two subjects in one single paper.
This also depends on the exam board that have made the paper. For example, the exam board GL normally creates papers with 45 questions assessing maths and 50 questions assessing English. In comparison, the CEM exam board changes its style of papers frequently. For example, there may be four different papers, each individually assessing the different skills. There could also be two 45-minute papers. You can find more information about this on the EasyA blog, if you click here.
Therefore, there isn’t actually a specific mark that the exam is out of. However, the average pass mark is usually around 80%. For more information about this, check out this article by The Exam Coach.
Is it hard to pass the 11 Plus exam?
The 11 Plus exam is seen as quite hard to pass because some of the questions you will be asked are not taught in the curriculum. This is because the grammar schools are trying to find students who are naturally gifted and are more likely to be successful.
To pass the verbal reasoning paper and to get a good mark, you need to have a good understanding of vocabulary. This is an extremely hard section to pass because it is based on your innate ability to problem solve. This can be challenging for students who don’t naturally grasp concepts.
Similarly, the 11 Plus exam is also hard because of the non-verbal reasoning section. The types of questions used in this paper won’t be like anything Year 6 students have seen before and can be overwhelming. Therefore, obtaining a good mark also depends on being naturally gifted. Non-verbal reasoning papers measure if you are able to think in a logical way and quickly identify patterns that may be hard to spot.
The mathematical part of the exam can also be challenging. This is because it exposes students to unfamiliar concepts, where they have to apply existing knowledge to scenarios they have never seen before.
As you can see, passing the 11 Plus exam is no easy task. Therefore, it is essential that you expose yourself to as many practice papers as possible. You can then familiarise yourself with the style of questions, so you won’t be surprised on the day. For more information about how many pupils pass the 11 Plus exam, check out this Think Student article.
How are the 11 Plus exam scores calculated?
Different papers that you sit will have varying numbers of questions and different amounts of time given for each one. For example, an English paper may be out of fifty marks but a maths paper out of forty marks. Just adding these results together would not be standardised. This is because it doesn’t give an equal weight to each skill. This means that a statistical process is needed in order to give each paper the same weight and to reduce bias. These standardised scores are then added together.
You also need to consider that the papers are sat by students of different ages. Students who are older are more likely to have a higher level of vocabulary and their brains will be more developed compared to a younger student. This means that an older student will need a higher score to pass compared to younger students.
A standardisation table is then used to calculate the score. The raw data is the student’s actual score. However, after comparing this to their age, a standardised score can be calculated. The pass rate is then set and only students who get this will be allowed in the grammar school of their choice. Generally, this pass score is 121. This doesn’t mean that the total marks were out of 121, instead it is a standardised score, calculated from the raw data. More information about this can be found on the Eleven Plus Exams website if you click here. Also, this Think Student article delves more deeply into how the 11 Pluss exam is calculated.
What is the highest 11 Plus score?
To make sure that the 11 Plus exam papers are standardised, they are checked to ensure that they are the same level of difficulty each year. This is because if they became too easy, too many students would pass and there would not be enough spaces in the grammar schools. Therefore, it is very hard to achieve the highest 11 Plus exam score, as this is reserved only for the highest achieving, naturally gifted students.
The highest score, on a standardised scale is usually 140 or 141. However, this is not the maximum mark. It is possible for students to achieve higher scores. However, calculating scores after this would be more inaccurate and only an extremely small minority would achieve higher than this.
Instead of being the highest score, 140 or 141 is more of a cut-off point. This is a very impressive score if you achieve it and is seen as the highest because barely anybody achieves above this. The average score is usually 100. However, 121 is needed to pass and be accepted into a grammar school. At the other end of the scale, the lowest score is 69 or 70. As you can see, passing the 11 Plus exam is very difficult, so don’t be disheartened if you don’t! More information can be found on the Eleven Plus Exams website if you click here.
What is a good 11 Plus exam score?
A ‘good’ score in the 11 Plus exam can be subjective. Some people may think that a pass mark is sufficient in order to be a good score. However, some students may strive for the best and will be disappointed if they get below 140. This is not the correct mindset to have, as only the smallest minority will achieve the highest score.
The truth is that a ‘good’ score varies between different places in the UK. As mentioned above, the average mark in the UK is 100. Therefore, this is a common score and may not be classed as ‘good’. However, this is a national average, meaning that the average for different places may not be similar. In some areas, the average score may be higher. This can be as high as 111. Moreover, in some places, it can be lower. Therefore, a score lower than 100 may be classed as ‘good’, if you are happy with achieving the average and you live in one of those areas.
Pass rates will also be higher for areas with a low amount of grammar schools, such as Greater London. However, areas with a large number of Grammar schools will have a lower pass rate. This lower score will be seen as good in these areas, for example Kent and Buckinghamshire. However, they will not be seen as good in areas such as Greater London. More information can be found by going onto individual Grammar school’s websites in order to see what their pass mark is. Click here to visit the Eleven Plus Exams website, which has links to these websites.
What does the 11 Plus exam assess?
The 11 Plus exam tests a range of skills. This is because the whole point of creating the exam is to find the most academic students. One feature the exam assesses is English. They can assess this in different ways. For example, you may have to write to persuade, explain or describe.
Another way this may be assessed is by using comprehension questions. This usually entails multiple choice questions also. However, the most common way of assessing English is by using multiple-choice grammar questions. For more information, look at this article from ElevenPlusPapers.co.uk.
The 11 Plus exam also assesses mathematics. The type of maths assessed will be the concepts learned in primary school. However, they will also contain some topics the student will most likely not have been taught yet.
Finally, the 11 Plus exam also assesses verbal and non-verbal reasoning. These are not taught in the primary school curriculum either. This means they are hard to prepare for. Therefore, using practice papers is essential in order for you to pass. Check out this article on Think Student for more information.
How can you prepare to pass the 11 Plus exam papers?
Now you have discovered what the pass mark is and what the exam entails. However, to pass you need to know how to prepare! This is the most important part, as the better your preparation, the more likely you will pass the exam. This is essential, as if you fail the exam, you are unable to take it again.
The very best way to get ready for an eleven plus exam is to take as many practice papers as possible. This is because they will offer examples of the sorts of questions you will be answering, as you probably won’t have seen anything like them before. At first, you may feel disheartened as the questions will be difficult at first and you may make mistakes. However, don’t lose your confidence. The more papers you practice on, the better you will become.
Tutors are also a great way to become prepared. It is proven that students who are tutored are more likely to pass the 11 Plus exam. Check out this article from 11PlusPracticePapers.co.uk which has more revision tips.
If you want to go to a grammar school, then you will need to sit the 11 Plus exam. However, don’t be scared! Just focus on revision and having a positive mindset. Even if you don’t pass, the grammar school is the one missing out!