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 quckly. At many grammar schools there is also an emphasis on enrichment and extracurricula 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. From 2017, the Medway test will also be aministered by CEM.
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.
Children sitting the Medway test will sit:
A maths test (roughly 1 hour) this will be broken down into shorter individually timed sections. It will probably include a selection of arithmetic and problem based questions.
A verbal reasoning test (roughly 1 hour) again this is broken down into individually timed sections. There will be examples for each type of question which children are able to go back and refer to. This paper is likely to have an emphasis on understanding word meanings and vocabulary. There may be a short comprehension section although other verbal reasoning questions may also be involved.
An extended piece of writing. This could be fiction or non-fiction from various genres. 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).
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 literacy skills.
A reasoning paper (1 hour). This is plit into two sections; verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning. The non verbal reasoning will be split into shorter individually timed sections.
An Extended writing (40 mins including 10 mins planning time). This is not usually marked but may be used by a headteacher when deciding to give a place.
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.