The Eleven Plus (also called 11 Plus or 11+), is a transfer test which used by grammar schools in the UK to select students with high intellectual and academic capacities.
The test is held at the final year of primary schooling, so that the selected students can continue their secondary schooling in grammar schools.
When they take it up, students would be aged around 10. So, the test is called 11 Plus as it selects students for schools which intake students ages 11 and above. The exams are generally held in the September of the student’s final year in primary school. Parents are notified of the results in October, so that they have time to apply to grammar schools.
As the test seeks to select students for 164 grammar schools across the UK, which have only a limited number of seats, it is by nature extremely competitive. It is reported that some well sought after grammar schools get several thousand applications for a mere 180 seats and the pass percentage of their 11 Plus test is around 3%. However, this figure varies across regions and schools. In some regions where the Grammar School system has been continuous, the pass percentage around 30%.
Eleven Plus tests students on four main areas: English, Mathematics, Verbal Reasoning, and non-verbal reasoning.
Each of these subject has various topics under them.
English – Comprehension, Writing, Punctuation, Grammar, Spelling
Mathematics – Multiplications, Number operations, Number relationships, Measurements, Mental Arithmetic, Geometry, Data handling
Verbal Reasoning – Logical thinking, Problem solving skills, Determining word meaning, Spelling accurately, Basic math skills
Non-Verbal Reasoning – Processing graphic and pictorial information, Objects’ spatial relationships, Patterns, Math skills
As the test is competitive, it relies on two core skills of students — speed and accuracy. It expects students to solve problems quickly and correctly to finish the test within the given time.
Eleven Plus is not compulsory. If your kid wants to go to a comprehensive school, they don’t have to take the test. But if they want to get into a grammar school, they have to take the Eleven Plus and pass the test as per the region or school’s qualifying criteria.
Though the dominance of grammar schools has been a subject of much debate, it is a widely agreed fact that grammar schools have proven records of higher academic achievement compared to comprehensive schools. Grammar school graduates have gone on to become high achievers in their careers and in the society in general. Grammar schools also enable students from low income families to excel academically and land in better careers and subsequently climb up the social ladder.
This is why grammar schools are sought after and have a thorough selection process based on the Eleven Plus.