what is the 11 plus exam

What is the 11 Plus Exam?

For those who are approaching the 11 plus exam for the first time it can feel as though there is a rather confusing landscape of advice and information that surrounds the exams; this isn’t just applicable to the student either, with many parents finding conflicting information and guidance as to how to approach the exams and what the exams may actually entail when preparing their child for the 11 Plus Exam. With this in mind, here we demystify the 11 Plus Exams by talking in straightforward and jargon free language to describe what it is that the 11 Plus Exams actually consist of.


The Structure of the 11 Plus Exam


Verbal Reasoning (VR)

Verbal Reasoning isn’t taught within the national curriculum and so forms one of the two sections of the 11 Plus Exams that focuses upon testing your child’s potential, rather than their current knowledge and skillsets.
Verbal Reasoning requires that the student have a solid vocabulary base; this is because it involves the solving of problems with words, sequences, codes and logic. In total there are 21 different forms of Verbal Reasoning questions within the exam, however not all Local Education Authorities include each of these question formats within their exam. That said, your child must be able to identify each of these question formats, understand them and know what is required of them to answer them successfully.


Non Verbal Reasoning (NVR)

Non Verbal Reasoning is another area that is not experienced through mainstream curriculum lessons. These questions involves illustrations and test your child’s ability to logically work through problems which are displayed as sequences of shapes.



The 11 Plus English exam varies significantly as according to your Local Education Authority. What’s more some LEA’s may only look at the English exam if your Child’s results within the other tests are considered as borderline.
Where the exam is taken however it usually involves the writing of a story based around a provided theme; following this there may also be a comprehension exam, which involves a set text, with a series of questions to determine how your child has read, understood and interpreted the text.



The Mathematics exam will incorporate all that Key Stage 2 covers within the curriculum. Students must have a thorough understanding and good grasp on all areas and have the ability to solve problems using their knowledge.


Beginner Tips for helping your child through the 11 Plus

1. Be sure to prepare staggered revision so as to ensure you cover all areas, but avoid overloading your child with too much material at the beginning of the process.
2. Chop and change the area in which your child revises. Visiting new places such as the library will help prepare your child for sitting an exam in a new place.
3. Focus upon ‘Active Revision’; this should involve plenty of past and practice papers.
4. Undertake a little research into visual revision aids, such as mind maps, illustrations and other methods and help your child in creating them for each area of revision.
5. Set your child some goals, along with motivational rewards.

The Eleven Plus tutors in Essex have a proven track record in empowering students to achieve the results that they deserve. We specifically help students who are more capable in surpassing their peers and excelling within all areas of the Eleven Plus exams.