The Eleven Plus, often denoted as the 11+ or 11 Plus, is an exam that some pupils in their last year of primary school undergo with the goal of gaining admission into a desired grammar school. Notably, most of these students are 10 years old when they sit for the exam. The term “Eleven Plus” suggests that the exam is designed for children who are seeking admission into schools for students aged 11 and above.
Currently, England is home to 164 Grammar Schools. The 11 plus exam was officially phased out in Northern Ireland in 2008, but many of the former Grammar Schools continue to use ability-based testing for student selection, a practice that has led to substantial political controversy.
The success rate for the 11 plus exam differs greatly from one region to another. Some schools are inundated with multiple thousands of applications for a minimal number of slots, potentially as few as 180 – the four grammar schools in Kingston and Sutton serve as examples of this kind of demand, with an approximate pass rate of merely 3 percent. In regions where the grammar system has remained intact, the pass rate is significantly higher – in Buckinghamshire, it averages around 30 percent annually.
The 11 Plus examination could consist of up to four different subject areas – Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning, Maths, and English. The mix of test papers can vary significantly from one region to another. For additional information about the types of tests utilised in each area, please refer to the 11 Plus Schools section on our platform.
Surviving the 11 Plus: A Parent’s Handbook
As the guardian of a child sitting for the 11+ examination, the experience can be stressful. Here are key strategies that can help mitigate the anxiety for both you and your child throughout your 11+ voyage.
Gaining a thorough understanding of how grammar school admissions operate in your locale is pivotal. Being well-informed is your greatest ally in the 11 Plus journey, and the ensuing three steps will aid you in your quest for knowledge:
Ascertain the Admission Rules for the schools you are targeting to evaluate the likelihood of securing admission. You can glean more insights in our 11+ Schools section. Admission could be based on 11+ scores, proximity, or other determinants such as religious affiliation, sibling priority, or feeder schools.
Keep in mind that Admission Rules are subject to annual changes, so don’t rely on regulations that you checked years before your child is due to take the exam.
Comprehend the testing protocols for your preferred schools, including the test composition and the timing. Stay alert for changes, as test content may vary significantly.
Mitigating Your Stress
You and your child might be dealing with the uncertainty around their educational future. In such scenarios, it’s vital to handle all possible outcomes with as much serenity and poise as you can manage. Positioning the testing process within the broader context of your family life might help. Consider that in the grand scheme of things like health, financial stability, and a secure home, the outcome of the 11+ exam doesn’t carry the same weight. Retaining a balanced outlook is key.
Managing Your Child’s Anxiety
It’s common for children to feel stress during the 11 Plus process. Even if you seem calm, they may pick up on the concerns voiced by their peers. Don’t assume your calm demeanor automatically translates to your child’s stress levels.
Assure them of a secure future, irrespective of the 11 Plus results. Discuss your alternative plans (“Plan B”) for their education. It might be challenging to make them believe that a lower-preferred local school can be a good alternative to their desired grammar school, but it’s important for them to know you have a backup plan.
Reiterate that your pride in them is not tied to their exam results but to their diligent efforts in school, their preparations for the exam, and their courage in facing it. A successful outcome is an additional bonus, not a reflection of your bond with them.
Some parents may choose to promise their child a special gift at the end of the process. While it’s a personal choice, consider the conditions attached to this gift. If it’s dependent on passing the 11 Plus, think about how you’ll manage if your child doesn’t qualify and faces the additional disappointment of not receiving the gift. Many agree that such rewards should recognize effort, not just success.