The 11+ are the first exams your child will take that may affect their future.
In Kent, unlike some other areas of the country, we have a grammar school system. Children can choose to sit an entrance exam (called the Eleven Plus) at the beginning of year 6. If the student then meets the required grade or 'pass mark' they are eligible to apply for the grammar schools.
What is the benefit of going to a grammar school?
It is important to choose a school that is right for your child. At a lot of grammar schools students are challenged and pushed hard to achieve. Students at a grammar school often work at a much faster pace and pick tasks up quickly. At many grammar schools there is also an emphasis on enrichment and extracurricular activities, resulting in a more rounded education. Of course, all of this is dependent on the school. In some cases grammar schools will not do this whilst comprehensives will. The main thing to remember is that the Eleven Plus will open up your choices of secondary school. Your child may pass the 11+ but really like a comprehensive school, the 11+ does not mean they can't go there. I would always recommend looking at a range of secondary schools even if your child has passed the 11+.
Who writes the exam?
There are two main companies who provide 11+ exams (although in some cases tests may be written by the school or by a group of schools). These are GL and CEM. The Kent test is administered by GL. The Bexley test is administered by CEM but this will likely change in 2024. From 2022, the Medway test has been administered by GL.
Both providers create multiple choice question papers in maths (sometimes called numerical reasoning), English, verbal reasoning, and non verbal reasoning. Maths questions are generally based on the KS2 curriculum although often has a few questions pushing out of the curriculum. In verbal reasoning CEM tends to have a greater focus on vocabulary, synonyms and antonyms, and word choice. According to CEM, they describe their exams as "tutor-proof". This is mainly because they do not release past papers or practice papers and regularly change the format of their tests.
Medway Test (GL from 2022)
Children sitting the Medway test will sit:
A maths test (roughly 50 minutes) this will be multiple choice and will cover the KS2 curriculum. Most questions will be problem and reasoning based.
A verbal reasoning test (roughly 50 minutes) there will be questions grouped by question type. Sections usually include questions on: word meanings, logic, patterns and sequences, coding, word constructions.
An extended piece of writing. They will be given 10 minutes to plan and then 40 minutes to write. This could be fiction or non-fiction from various genres. Candidates will be given 1 question to answer. This is marked against a criteria (punctuation, grammar, spelling, suitable style, paragraphing, vocabulary choice, etc.)
The scores for each test are standardised. Then the maths and English are doubled before adding the verbal reasoning on top. The top 23% are judged to be selective (grammar school entrants).
Kent Test (GL)
Children sitting the Kent test will sit:
An English and Maths Paper (1 hour). This is split into two sections; one for English and one for maths. Each section will have a 5 minute practice and then 25 minutes for the questions. The maths will be mostly problem based. The English will include a short comprehension and some additional questions on SPaG (finding the mistakes). All questions will be multiple choice.
A reasoning paper (1 hour). This is split into two sections; verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning. This is split into shorter individually timed sections. The verbal reasoning questions will be similar in style to the Medway test. The non verbal reasoning will also include spatial reasoning.
An Extended writing (40 mins including 10 mins planning time). This is a piece of fiction writing. Candidates will be given a selection of writing prompts. This is not marked but may be used by a headteacher when deciding to give a place. This is particularly important for appeals.
Students must receive a minimum score in each area as well as achieving the overall pass mark. However, students may have a good chance of appealing if they just miss out in one area.
Children sitting the Bexley test will sit:
A verbal reasoning and comprehension paper (50 mins). This is multiple choice in two sections there will be guidance on timings and practice questions.
A Numerical reasoning and Non Verbal reasoning (50 mins). Numerical reasoning will mostly consist of mathematical problems. This is multiple choice in two sections there will be guidance on timings and practice questions.
Registering for the tests: Registration for tests is in June and is open for around a month.
Test dates: The dates of the tests are within the first few weeks of September. If your school supports the 11+ you will be able to sit one set of tests in school (for whichever area your school is in) the test for the other area will be on a Saturday/Sunday. You will be given a location and date for this.
Results: The result days for the tests are in October.