11 Plus Exams

What is Verbal Reasoning for the 11 Plus? How To Help Your Child Succeed

Verbal Reasoning is a fundamental part of 11 Plus exams.

If you’re applying to a grammar school or a partially selective school, your child will sit these tests at the end of Year 6. With a mixture of Maths, English and Verbal Reasoning questions, 11 Plus exams are designed to be challenging. But the good news is with plenty of practice and preparation, there’s no reason why your child can’t ace these assessments.

Today, we’re focusing on verbal reasoning (VR). It’s not something many parents are too familiar with, so we’ll explain what it is, the main types of VR questions, how you can help your child, as well as which schools use verbal reasoning tests.

Pens at the ready? Let’s get started.

Verbal Reasoning 11 Plus: An Introduction

Verbal reasoning is a way of testing pupils’ ability to analyse, understand and mentally manipulate information. These tests are presented in a verbal format (i.e., words and letters). They cover things like identifying relationships between words and phrases, sorting into alphabetical order, vocabulary and more.

Verbal reasoning is often used as part of 11 Plus entrance exams, for entrance to private, grammar and partially selective schools across the UK.

These tests are normally set as a series of multiple-choice questions. These questions assess your child’s ability to understand and interpret the meaning of words, sentences and paragraphs. They might also face topics such as synonyms and antonyms, analogies and identifying the meaning of words in context.

What is a Verbal Reasoning 11 Plus test?

Verbal Reasoning tests for 11 Plus exams normally take between 40 and 50 minutes. They’re a key part of formal assessment procedures for selective schools.

These exams test whether your child is academically suitable for admission to a particular school. It’s all about the ability to think logically and laterally – as well as how your child uses language.

The best way to understand the format of verbal reasoning tests is to have a look at past papers. There are loads of sample verbal reasoning 11 Plus papers available online (just give it a google). You’ll also find specific 11 Plus verbal reasoning revision guides and papers available from most high-street bookstores.

To give you some examples here are a collection of free practice papers. These are grouped by private and independent schools, grammar schools and different exam boards (for instance GL Assessment, Bond, CGP and IPS).

Take a look at some of the following papers to get an idea of test styles and question types.

What are the types of Verbal Reasoning 11 Plus questions?

Now, this is a tricky one.

Historically, there were 21 types of verbal reasoning questions in 11 Plus exams. Parents could reliably understand types of questions likely to come up, and help their child prepare accordingly.

Recently though, some testing bodies (for instance GL Assessment) have added new question types. Schools setting their own tests (usually private schools) might incorporate any kind of question too… so it pays to be prepared and look at as many different past papers and question types you can.

The different types of VR questions are broadly categorised as follows:

  • Synonyms and antonyms: Your child is asked to identify words with the same meanings (synonyms) or the opposite meanings (antonyms) as a given word.
  • Analogies: Identifying the relationship between two words, and then finding another pair of words with the same relationship. For example, Calf is to Cow as Kitten is to ?
  • Sentence completion (cloze tests): Your child is given a sentence with one or more words missing. They need to choose a word that best completes the sentence.
  • Paragraph or text comprehension: Your child reads a paragraph of text (or a short passage) and answers questions about the implicit and explicit information contained in the text.
  • Vocabulary questions: As well as synonyms and antonyms, your child might face general vocabulary questions, as well as problems to do with homophones (words that sound the same with different meanings) and homographs (spelled the same, with different meanings).
  • Code-breaking questions: These questions test your child’s ability to crack codes and ciphers. They can be some of the hardest question types to master, but with plenty of practice – your child should become familiar with the style of thinking required.
  • Sequence questions: A bit like code-breaking questions, these types of problems analyse your child’s ability to find patterns and sequences in a given set of words, letters or numbers.

How can I help my child improve their Verbal Reasoning?

If this sounds a bit daunting, don’t worry. The good news is there are loads of ways you can help your child improve their verbal reasoning skills.

Just some of the most effective strategies include:

  • Reading widely: Reading (as widely as possible) really helps improve vocabulary and comprehension skills. Make sure your child reads a variety of books, blogs, magazines, and newspapers. Whatever you can get your hands on!
  • Playing board games: Board games that require players to use logic and reasoning skills can help improve verbal reasoning skills. Good examples of board games for this purpose include Scrabble, Boggle, Bananagrams and Pictionary. It’s also a fantastic way to have some family fun. A win, win for everyone.
  • Practising commonly misspelt words: There are many words that are commonly misspelt by children. Help your child learn how to spell these words correctly by practising regularly. You can easily find lists online, but also check your child’s work for their individual “problem” words.
  • Problem solving: Problem solving is an important skill that’s used in many verbal reasoning questions. Help your child develop their problem solving skills by giving them various puzzles and brain teasers to solve. Making-up questions together is a fun activity, and also lets your child put you to the test too!
  • Logic games: Logic games, books and puzzles are a great way to improve your child’s ability to think logically and solve problems. There are many types of logic games and exercises available, so experiment and find materials appropriate for your child’s age and ability level – as well as things they genuinely enjoy playing.
  • Practice papers and quizzes: We’ve already provided links to various past papers, but this is one of the best ways to help your child improve their VR skills and get familiar with different test formats. As well as full-length practice papers, you can also find plenty of fun quizzes focusing on specific question types online.

Which schools use Verbal Reasoning tests?

 Lots of schools across the UK use verbal reasoning tests as part of their 11 Plus entry requirements. This includes grammar schools, partially selective state schools, private schools and academy trusts.

In the Harrow area, there are several schools that use verbal reasoning tests. This includes Henrietta Barnett School (an all-girls grammar school in Hampstead Garden Suburb) that regularly ranks among the top-performing schools in the country. Other schools near Harrow using verbal reasoning tests include St. Michael’s Catholic Grammar School, Northwood College for Girls and The Latymer School.

Another group of schools using Verbal Reasoning tests is the South West Hertfordshire Consortium. This consortium consists of several highly selective schools, including Parmiter’s School, St Clement Danes School and Rickmansworth School.

All these schools are known for their rigorous entrance exams and high academic standards, and verbal reasoning is an important part of the testing process. So if you’re applying… it’s never too early to start preparing.

How can Achieve Learning help my child’s Verbal Reasoning?

At Achieve Learning, we have over 18 years’ experience helping students gain admission to some of the top schools in the country.

As well as offering 11 Plus mock exams, one-to-one tuition and revision courses, we also provide a comprehensive How to Do Verbal Reasoning technique and practice course. This covers the various types of verbal reasoning questions that come-up in exams, and is held at our Harrow-based learning centre.

To find out more, get in touch today to book a free assessment. Our experienced tutors will be happy to discuss your child’s needs and develop a personalised study programme to help them achieve their goals.


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What is Non Verbal Reasoning? Your 11+ Exams Guide

What is Non-Verbal Reasoning? Your 11+ Exams Guide

11+ exams are a significant milestone for both children and parents. They mark the end of primary school and the transition to secondary education – with plenty to understand and prepare for.

Among the various components of the 11 Plus, non-verbal reasoning stands out as a particularly challenging aspect. And unless you’ve prepared for 11+ exams yourself, you probably won’t have come across these questions before.

So, what is non-verbal reasoning?

In this article, we provide parents with a comprehensive understanding of non-verbal reasoning. We’ll look at the topics involved, how to improve your child’s performance and examples of typical questions.

What is non-verbal reasoning for the 11 Plus?

Non-verbal reasoning for the 11 Plus tests a child’s ability to understand and analyse visual information. These skills are crucial for problem-solving, useful in subjects like Science and Maths. Unlike verbal reasoning (which relies on language skills), non-verbal reasoning assesses logical thinking and pattern recognition through diagrams and pictures. 

Non-verbal reasoning isn’t on the national curriculum, although many primary schools familiarise students with the questions they’ll face on the 11 Plus. 

It’s also known as “abstract reasoning” and includes a variety of questions asking students to identify patterns, relationships and sequences among shapes and figures.

If you’re preparing your child for 11 Plus exams, check out our guide to key dates and deadlines, grammar schools without a catchment area and how to get into grammar school while homeschooling.

What does non-verbal reasoning mean?

Non-verbal reasoning involves solving problems using visual information. It relies on images and diagrams (rather than words), hence the term “non-verbal”. The “reasoning” aspect refers to a child’s ability to problem-solve their way to the correct answer.

Although not limited to, it involves recognising patterns, understanding shapes and sequences and solving puzzles without words. 

For example, a question might present a series of shapes that rotate or change in a specific way. It will then ask the student to identify the next shape in the sequence.

Why is non-verbal reasoning important?

Non-verbal reasoning is important because it develops children’s spatial awareness and the ability to think critically and logically. 

These are key skills that will help your child progress through the rigours of secondary education, GCSEs and A Levels. They’re super useful for subjects like Science, Maths, Engineering, Computing and Design. 

In addition, non-verbal reasoning tests are a fantastic way to understand skills beyond words and language. They’re helpful for children who find communicating verbally challenging, as well as for those with English as a second language, or those with dyslexia. These tests give insight into a child’s general intelligence and capabilities without relying on their Maths or English knowledge.

How many topics are there in non-verbal reasoning?

Non-verbal reasoning tests for the 11 Plus are normally multiple-choice. There aren’t any “formal” topics that always feature, but there are common question types.

These include:

  • Series and sequences: Questions that involve identifying the next image in a sequence based on a specific pattern. Children might choose the answer from four or five possible shapes, pictures or diagrams.
  • Analogies: Questions that ask children to find relationships between pairs of shapes, similar to verbal analogies but with visual elements.
  • Classification: Identifying which shape doesn’t belong in a given set (for instance, spotting the odd one out).
  • Spatial awareness: Visualising shapes in different orientations or manipulating shapes mentally to fit a particular configuration. This involves mathematical skills of symmetry, rotation and reflection.

Each topic requires different skills, but attention to detail, logical thinking and the ability to visualise objects and information are key.

What is an example of non-verbal reasoning?

You’ll find plenty of examples of non-verbal reasoning questions online. 

Visit school websites first, as they often publish sample papers or past papers. If you know the exam provider (for instance GL Assessment) you can also head to their website for familiarisation materials and practice papers.

But to give you a broad idea, a non-verbal reasoning question might present a series of shapes with a clear pattern, asking the child to identify the next shape in the sequence. 

For instance:

  • Question: A sequence shows a triangle, a square, and a pentagon. What shape comes next?
  • Answer: The pattern increases the number of sides by one each time, so the next shape would be a hexagon.

Another example could be an analogy:

  • Question: If a circle is to a sphere, then a square is to a:
  • Answer: Cube. The relationship here is that the first shape is a 2D representation of the second shape, which is 3D.

Other types of questions might involve mirror images or spatial reasoning:

  • Question: Given an image of a shape, choose the option that represents its mirror image.
  • Answer: Select the correct mirrored version from the given options.

Or pattern completion:

  • Question: Complete the pattern: a grid shows a sequence of symbols with one missing. Determine which symbol fits the empty space.
  • Answer: Identify the rule governing the sequence (such as rotation, colour change, or size change) and choose the symbol that fits accordingly.

What is the GL Assessment 11+ non-verbal reasoning?

If you’ve seen the term “GL Non-Verbal Reasoning” or “GL tests”, this refers to the company that creates and administers 11 Plus exams.

GL stands for “GL Assessment”, the leading provider of 11 Plus exams in the country. As well as non-verbal reasoning, your child will probably also face English, Maths and Verbal Reasoning papers as part of their 11 Plus tests.

For more information on GL Assessment, their scoring system, question types and how to prepare your child for 11 Plus exams, read our comprehensive overview.

How many questions are in non-verbal reasoning?

The number of non-verbal questions will vary depending on the 11 Plus exam provider. This might also change from year to year. So check past papers carefully.

But as a general rule of thumb, expect about 80 questions in an hour-long exam. This is the standard amount for GL Assessment 11 Plus Non-Verbal Reasoning papers. 

This equates to about 20 questions per 15 minutes. Yes, it’s a lot! So speed is important…

How do you solve non-verbal reasoning quickly?

Efficiency is key in non-verbal reasoning tests. Each question requires quick thinking and accuracy to ensure your child completes the test in time. 

To help your child improve their speed, it’s all about regular timed practice. Set a timer for study sessions to help your child work under time pressure. The more you work on their speed (in a fun way), the more this will come naturally.

You could also teach key exam skills like “skip and return”. By this, we mean encouraging your child to move on from difficult questions and return to them later. This strategy helps them answer as many questions as possible within the time limit, without getting stuck.

How can I improve my child’s non-verbal reasoning?

Improving your child’s non-verbal reasoning skills involves plenty of practice and exposure to various types of questions. Here are a few key tips.

  • Practise regularly: Use practice papers and online resources to familiarise your child with different questions. The more they practise, and the more question types they see, the better your child will get! Resources like Bond 11+, GL Assessment or CGP practice books are particularly useful. 
  • Regular review: Identify any areas of strength and weakness by reviewing answers together. Then adjust your focus and strategy accordingly.
  • Use visual puzzles: Engage your child with puzzles and games that require visual thinking, such as jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, tangrams, logic problem books and Rubik’s cubes. These activities improve their spatial awareness and pattern recognition skills without the pressure of exam preparation.
  • Encourage observation: Help your child develop their observation skills with games that require attention to detail. This could be “spot the difference” or competitions like “first person to spot a yellow car”. Classic strategy games like chess and draughts also help children’s logical thinking and ability to predict patterns.

How can I help my child prepare for a non-verbal reasoning test?

Successful 11 Plus preparation involves structured practice, exam familiarity and building confidence. This is the same whether you’re preparing for Verbal or Non-Verbal Reasoning, Maths or English papers. But how can parents help in practice?

Here’s how to get started.

Start early

Begin preparation well in advance of the exam date to avoid last-minute stress. This allows for gradual learning and plenty of practice time.

Create a study schedule

Allocate specific times for non-verbal reasoning practice, balancing it with other subjects. For example, dedicate 30 minutes a day to non-verbal reasoning practice, gradually increasing the time as the exam approaches.

Use mock tests

Simulate exam conditions with timed practice tests to help your child manage time effectively. Review and discuss your child’s answers together.

To help your child get even more comfortable with exam conditions, you can also book in-person mock 11 Plus exams with Achieve Learning.

Focus on test technique

Instead of always encouraging your child to complete papers on their own, sit with them from time to time, and help them work through problems.

Strategies like drawing out diagrams help with spotting connections and differences. Making notes as they go and physically making links between shapes will also help your child stay in problem-solving mode.

At Achieve Learning, we’re experts in non-verbal reasoning preparation. With dedicated 1-1 tuition, academic consultancy and specialist mock exams, we’ll help your child develop their logical thinking and problem-solving abilities – and face 11 Plus exams with confidence.

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What is GL Assessment? GL 11 Plus Exams Explained

What is GL Assessment? GL 11 Plus Exams Explained

If you’re helping your child prepare for their 11 Plus exams, chances are you’ve come across the acronym “GL”. 

But what exactly does it mean?

Well, GL is short for GL Assessment, the leading provider of 11 Plus exam papers in the UK. They provide 11 Plus tests for most grammar schools in the country. 

Given their popularity, it’s essential to know what GL tests involve. In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about GL Assessment’s exam structure, scoring system, where to find practice papers and how to support your child’s 11 Plus preparation.

GL Assessment: An Introduction

What is GL Assessment?

GL Assessment is a leading test provider that designs and administers 11 Plus exams for UK grammar and independent schools. Their mission is to “improve student performance through better assessment”. They deliver over 300,000 11 Plus exam papers each year, working with some of the largest school trusts in the country. 

GL Assessment’s 11 Plus tests are designed to challenge the best and brightest of students each year. They include questions beyond the standard national curriculum, to gauge children’s potential in a selective school environment.

We should also mention that GL Assessment doesn’t just do 11 Plus exams. They provide a whole array of tests, including reading tests, progress tests, SEND identification, emotional well-being tests, and Year 7 CATs (or Cognitive Abilities Tests).

What does GL stand for in 11+?

In the context of the 11 Plus, GL stands for “Granada Learning”. 

Originally known as the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), the organisation was acquired by Granada Learning in 2001. Despite the GL Assessment rebrand, NFER still operates as a separate research entity.

GL Assessment is now part of the Renaissance group, a “global leader in education technology”.

What is the GL Assessment for grammar school?

GL Assessment 11+ tests serve as entrance exams for grammar and selective schools. They’re designed to be as fair and accessible as possible, to assess children’s academic proficiency. 

These subjects normally include Maths, English, Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning. The scores across all four subjects are combined and standardised, helping schools make independent and unbiased admissions decisions.

Looking for more information on the 11 Plus? Don’t miss our guides to all the key dates and deadlines, grammar schools without a catchment area and the best grammar schools in the UK.

What is the GL exam in the UK?

The GL 11 Plus exam varies between schools. Generally speaking though, it consists of separate papers in English, Maths, Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning.

This could include:

English Paper: roughly 50 questions in 50 minutes

The English paper includes a reading comprehension as well as spelling, punctuation, and grammar (SPaG) questions. There’s normally a “word choice” section (i.e. selecting the most appropriate word to go in a sentence) to finish. 

Reading comprehension involves a passage (which could be fiction or nonfiction) followed by questions to assess inference, deduction and vocabulary. SPaG questions may ask students to complete sentences or spot mistakes like spelling, capital letters or missing commas.

Maths Paper: roughly 50 questions in 50 minutes

The Maths paper usually consists of 50 questions in 50 minutes, covering topics like number, measurement, data and geometry. Rapid recall of number facts and proficiency in problem-solving are key to success.

GL Assessment Maths papers cover knowledge of times tables, quick mental arithmetic and firm understanding of the four basic operations (+ – x ÷). Your child should also be confident in their knowledge of shapes, space, measures and basic graph reading.

Verbal Reasoning Paper: roughly 80 questions in 60 minutes

Verbal Reasoning tests a child’s ability to manipulate and understand verbal information, requiring a broad vocabulary and strong logical reasoning skills. This section often includes questions on synonyms, antonyms and logical sequences. 

Verbal reasoning papers might ask your child to group words together, spotting similarities and differences. They test problem-solving skills and the ability to identify patterns as well as the rules and meaning of language.

Non-Verbal Reasoning Paper: roughly 80 questions in 60 minutes

Non-Verbal Reasoning assesses problem-solving ability and spatial awareness. Students must identify patterns and rules in visual sequences, a skill that’s massively valuable for STEM subjects. Papers are split into multiple timed sections, with children moving onto each section together.

GL Assessment Non-Verbal Reasoning papers test your child’s logical thinking and ability to process graphic information and apply mathematical skills like rotation, reflection and symmetry. 

These types of questions can be confusing if you haven’t seen them before. So to better understand the format, explore our in-depth guide to What is Non-Verbal Reasoning?

GL Assessment: Scoring and Difficulty

How is the GL Assessment 11+ exam scored?

For each paper your child sits, scores from each subject are combined to produce a total “raw score”. This initial score is then age-standardised to ensure fairness. 

The exams themselves are multiple-choice. This makes scoring and marking simple and clear. 

Although question types and paper structures change each year, a “standard” format might look like:

    • English: An initial reading comprehension with around 25 to 30 multiple-choice questions. This is followed by spelling and punctuation sections, as well as a vocabulary test (all around 10 questions each) where children select words that are the “best fit” for a sentence. 
    • Maths: Roughly 50 mixed mathematical questions (normally increasing in difficulty), all with multiple-choice answers.
  • Verbal Reasoning: Roughly 80 multiple-choice questions on verbal reasoning, including code words, finding word pairs, comprehension, series, synonyms and antonyms.
  • Non-Verbal Reasoning: Four sections, each containing 20 non-verbal reasoning questions. This could include sequences, patterns, transformations, similarities and differences.

What is the SAS score on GL Assessment?

The Standard Age Score (SAS) on GL Assessment 11 Plus exams adjusts a student’s raw score based on their age. This ensures fairness for younger students. The standardised score is then compared to a nationally representative sample (i.e. how well students have done across the country). 

The SAS score accounts for the student’s age in years and months – enduring fair comparison of academic performance within year groups.

What is the highest score on the GL 11+ exam?

The highest standardised score on a GL test is usually 141, representing the top 1% of candidates. 

If you’re wondering “what is a good GL score?”, the average SAS score is 100. So more than 100 indicates “above-average performance”. Scores below 100 represent “below-average performance” (compared with the national sample). 

Total marks can range anywhere between 60 and 141. 

A good target for students aiming for grammar school entry is 120. For some schools and consortiums (for instance, Dr Challoner’s High School), any student scoring 121 or more is eligible for a place – with admissions based on the school’s entry criteria.

Other schools rank students in order of performance. So in terms of a “good” GL score, it’s always best to aim for the top!

GL Assessment: Schools and Choices

Is the 11 Plus GL or CEM?

In most cases, schools use GL Assessment for their 11 Plus exams. But this isn’t always the case, so check with the school if you’re unsure.

There’s another main 11 Plus testing organisation called CEM (the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring). They recently transitioned to online testing however, reducing their popularity among UK schools.

CEM 11 Plus tests have a very different structure to GL Assessment. Instead of multiple subject-specific papers, questions are organised into shorter sections, all on one test. Content is also more closely mapped to the national curriculum. 

Which grammar schools use GL Assessment?

Most grammar schools in the country use GL Assessment. So you’ll probably face GL tests if you’re applying to grammar school.

But this isn’t always the case, so check carefully!

GL Assessment, CEM and ISEB (the Independent Schools Examination Board) are the three main 11 Plus providers in the UK. Some schools might also set their own entrance exams.

Testing arrangements are subject to change each year, so it’s important to check your chosen school’s exam provider. If they don’t list this information on their website, ask the admissions department.

Where can I find GL Assessment practice papers?

In good news for parents, GL Assessment publishes practice papers on their website. As these papers are created by the exam provider, they match the timings and test format your child will face.

As well as practice papers, GL Assessment also provides free familiarisation materials. These are a great starting point to assess your child’s readiness for the 11 Plus.

Educational publishers and high-street bookstores are also good places to find workbooks and practice papers for 11 Plus practice. CGP, Schofield and Sims and Bond 11+ are particularly helpful, with a variety of reliable study guides, online resources and practice papers. 

How can I prepare for GL Assessment 11+ exams?

Getting ready for the GL Assessment 11+ exams can feel like a big task, but with the right approach, it’s manageable and, dare we say it, even enjoyable! 

Here are some tips to help you and your child along the way:

  • Start early: It’s a good idea to kick-off preparation well before the exam date, ideally in the summer term of Year 4 or early autumn term of Year 5. Starting early means less stress and more time to get to grips with everything.
  • Master the basics: Ensure your child has a solid understanding of the national curriculum before diving into practice papers. This means getting familiar with topics they might not have covered in school, especially those from Year 6.
  • Get to know the exam: Take time to understand the structure and content of the GL Assessment exams. Practising with past papers and mock tests can help your child get used to the types of questions and timings.
  • Practice makes perfect: Introduce test papers gradually so your child develops good time management skills and feels comfortable with the exam format. Practising under timed conditions will make the test day feel familiar.
  • Keep calm and stay positive: Preparing for exams can be overwhelming, so it’s important to support your child mentally and emotionally. Encourage regular breaks and keep a balanced study schedule to help prevent burnout and manage test anxiety.
  • Celebrate every win: Keep motivation high by celebrating milestones, no matter how small. Little rewards and breaks make a big difference in keeping young learners engaged and excited about their progress.

If you’d like help preparing your child for 11 Plus exams, get in touch with our expert team at Achieve Learning. We’ll help your child understand the structure and requirements of the 11 Plus, build their skills and confidence, and unlock their best possible performance.

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Dr Challoner’s High School: Your 11 Plus (11+) Entry Guide 2025

Are you considering Dr Challoner’s High School for your daughter? If so, here’s all the information you need about the school, its admissions process and deadlines, 11 Plus exam papers and how to prepare.

Dr Challoner’s High School, situated in Little Chalfont, Buckinghamshire, is a highly esteemed grammar school for girls. It admits around 180 pupils each year and is renowned for its academic excellence and holistic education. 

Due to understandably high demand, competition for places is intense. To help you and your child prepare, here’s your comprehensive guide to the application process, test format and tips for success.

A Brief Introduction to Dr Challoner’s High School

Founded in 1962, Dr Challoner’s High School is home to just under 1,300 girls between 11 and 18 years old. In the Headmaster’s welcome to the school, he states their mission is “to provide the best possible education for girls”.

Regularly ranking among the top thirty state schools and the best in Buckinghamshire for academic progress, there’s no surprise Dr Challoner’s is so popular among parents and students alike. It’s judged as “outstanding” by Ofsted. The school is also only the ninth institution in the entire country to receive the “Exceptional Schools Award”.

This excellence translates into remarkable exam results. In 2023, 54% of A Levels grades were A* or A. Almost all students go to university, including Russell Group institutions and Oxbridge.

At the heart of the school is a tightly-knit community that prioritises compassion and commitment as well as a “strong instinct for the fun, creative and clever”. They promote learning for its own sake and gently encourage girls to achieve their full academic potential.

What’s the application process for Dr Challoner’s High School?

Dr Challoner’s High School is a selective grammar school. In short, this means your daughter must take (and excel in) their 11 Plus exams to be considered for a place. We’ll go into more detail below, but the 11 Plus for Dr Challoner’s High School is known as the Buckinghamshire Secondary Transfer Test. 

If your child goes to primary school in the county, they’re automatically entered for the Buckinghamshire Secondary Transfer Test. If not, you’ll need to register with Buckinghamshire Council.

Here are the key dates to know:

  • 11 Plus registration opens: 3 May 2024
  • 11 Plus registration deadline: 14 June 2024
  • Dr Challoner’s Open Morning: 4 July 2024
  • 11 Plus test date: 12 September 2024
  • Dr Challoner’s Open Morning: 24 September 2024
  • 11 Plus results published: 11 October 2024
  • Dr Challoner’s Open Morning: 17 October 2024
  • Secondary application deadline: 31 October 2024
  • Secondary allocations: 3 March 2025

After they’ve sat exams, you’ll receive your child’s 11 Plus results near the start of October. If your daughter’s score meets the threshold for Dr Challoner’s, you can decide whether to apply for a place. You’ll need to list it as a “preferred school” on the secondary school “common application form” (or CAF). Final choices must be submitted by the end of October.

It’s important to know that passing the 11 Plus doesn’t necessarily mean your daughter will gain a place at Dr Challoner’s. When allocating places, the school also considers other admissions factors such as whether you live in their catchment area, receive pupil premium, whether any siblings already attend and more.

For 11 Plus application deadlines and exam dates across the country, read our complete list of key dates.

What’s the format of the Dr Challoner’s High School test?

The Dr Challoner’s High School 11 Plus exam is known as the Buckinghamshire Secondary Transfer Test. GL Assessment creates and manages these exams. They consist of two-hour-long papers.

This includes:

  • English and Verbal Reasoning: Featuring comprehension questions, technical English (like spelling, punctuation and grammar) and verbal reasoning.
  • Maths and Non-Verbal Reasoning: With questions on Key Stage 2 Maths topics, as well as spatial and non-verbal problem solving using pictures and diagrams.

Students sit both papers in one sitting, with a break in between.

The exact question types and exam structure vary each year, so it’s best to familiarise your child with a range of sample papers. There’s also a shorter practice test taken two days before the real thing, which will help improve your child’s confidence.

Your daughter’s scores in both papers are age-standardised and then ranked. The combined scores determine each candidate’s overall result.

What’s the pass mark for Dr Challoner’s High School entrance paper?

Your daughter will need a score of 121 or higher to be eligible for a place at Dr Challoner’s High School. Unlike some other grammar schools, scores aren’t ranked beyond this level. So if more than 180 children achieve 121 or more (which is highly likely), the school’s other admissions criteria come into play.

For anyone who’s scored 121 or above, factors influencing admissions include:

  • Priority is given to “looked after”, internationally adopted, and previously looked after girls.
  • Those in receipt of pupil premium.
  • Whether you live in the catchment area.
  • Daughters of staff members.
  • Sisters of girls currently attending Dr Challoner’s.
  • Girls with exceptional medical and social needs that can only be met at Dr Challoner’s.

Does Dr Challoner’s High School have a catchment area?

Yes, Dr Challoner’s High School has a catchment area. This means you must live within this zone to be eligible for a place. It includes the areas surrounding Amersham, Chalfont St Giles, Chalfont Common, Chesham, Gerrards Cross, Prestwood and Great Missenden. 

If there’s a tie-break between girls meeting other admissions criteria, those living closest to the school receive priority. There’s a catchment map and more details on the school’s admissions pages.

Who creates the test for Dr Challoner’s High School?

GL Assessment develops the test materials and papers for Dr Challoner’s High School.

GL Assessment is a leading provider of educational assessments. They focus on a range of skills, including numerical ability, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Their tests are designed to be fair and unbiased, ensuring equal opportunity for all students.

Where can I find Dr Challoner’s High School sample test papers?

Although Dr Challoner’s High School does not release past papers, GL Assessment provides free familiarisation papers.

You can also find similar papers (great for helping your child with a wide variety of skills and question types) online and at most bookstores from Bond 11+ and CGP.

To help your child ace the 11 Plus, one of the best things you can do is use a variety of past papers. Start by regularly going through these papers together. This way, your child will feel familiar with the exam format and more relaxed when the big day comes. 

Consistency is key. As you work through the papers, you’ll be able to spot any tricky areas (like specific topics or time management) they struggle with. This lets you build your daughter’s confidence and boost their performance.

Does Dr Challoner’s High School charge fees?

No, Dr Challoner’s High School is state-funded and does not charge tuition fees.

It’s one of 163 state-funded grammar schools across England that select students based on academic entrance tests.

To find top grammar schools near you, explore our lists of the best grammars in Slough, Kent, Hertfordshire, Barnet, London and the whole UK. If you’re considering options further afield, don’t miss our complete guide to grammar schools without a catchment area.

Is Dr Challoner’s High School part of a consortium?

No, Dr Challoner’s High School is not part of a formal consortium. The entrance test and admissions process are managed independently by the school. 

However, it is a member of The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools (TBGS), an organisation formed by the thirteen grammar schools in Buckinghamshire to manage the Buckinghamshire Secondary Transfer Test.

While each grammar school operates as an independent academy with its own admissions process, they work together through TBGS to maintain a coordinated selection system. 

This system uses a shared 11 Plus test (instead of 13 separate exams!), preventing a time-consuming and stressful admissions process for parents and pupils alike.

How can I help my child prepare for the Dr Challoner’s High School 11+ exam?

Here are some tips to incorporate into your daily routine, to help your child prepare for the Dr Challoner’s High School 11 Plus exams. 

  • Consistent learning: Make studying a regular part of your child’s routine with short, daily sessions of 20-30 minutes. This “little and often” approach helps their brain absorb information better. Turn study time into a fun activity with colourful flashcards, educational games or apps that make learning interactive and enjoyable.
  • Reading: Encourage your child to read a wide range of books. Mix it up with different genres and authors to expose them to various writing styles and vocabularies. You can create a reading challenge with rewards for finishing books or set aside family reading time to make it a shared experience. Discuss the stories together to enhance their comprehension and analytical skills.
  • Practice tests: Once your child feels comfortable with the material, start incorporating practice tests. This helps them get used to the exam format and timing. Help your child concentrate by setting up a mock exam environment at home, complete with a timer and a quiet space. You could also consider mock tests from independent providers (like us at Achieve Learning!).
  • Celebrate progress: Set small, achievable goals and celebrate each milestone. This could be as simple as a small treat or a fun outing. Encourage a growth mindset by praising their effort and improvement, not just their achievements. Remind them that making mistakes is part of learning and that persistence will pay off.
  • Maths and English skills: For Maths, practice problem-solving with real-life examples, like calculating change during shopping or measuring ingredients for a recipe. Use workbooks and online resources for timed tests and exercises to improve speed and accuracy. For English, promote regular reading and descriptive writing activities. Encourage your child to keep a journal, write stories, or summarise their favourite books to strengthen their SPaG and comprehension skills.
  • Professional tutoring: If your child needs extra help, consider professional tutoring. A tutor will provide personalised attention, feedback and tips. They’ll tailor lessons to your child’s needs, ensuring they’re well-prepared for 11 Plus exams.

If you’re thinking about 11 Plus exams for your child, get in touch with our expert team at Achieve Learning today. With personalised 11 Plus tuition and support, mock tests and academic consultancy – we’ll give your family the tools to succeed.

Dr Challoner’s High School: Your 11 Plus (11+) Entry Guide 2025 Read More »

When to Apply for 11 Plus Exams 2024: Key Dates and Deadlines

As parents, securing a secondary school place for our children can be both exciting and daunting. 

For those with current Year 5 children eyeing entry into Year 7 in September 2025, the journey begins with understanding the key dates and deadlines surrounding 11 Plus exams in 2024. 

In this article, you’ll find a comprehensive guide to application and exam dates across the country. We’ll also address parents’ common questions and concerns, with expert insights to help your 11 Plus preparations.

What date is the 11 Plus 2024?

11 Plus exams in the UK typically take place in the autumn term of Year 6, which is the final year of primary school. The exact timing of exams varies depending on the region and individual schools administering the tests. However, for 2024, they generally occur between September and October.

Here’s a rough overview:

  • Registration: Most Grammar Schools open registration for 11 Plus exams from March to May 2024.
  • Exam Dates: Most Grammars hold 11 Plus exams in September, although there are a few schools with exams in October and November.
  • Results and Places: Results are normally returned by November 2024, with school allocations officially confirmed by March 2025.
  • School Starts: The new school year begins in September 2025.

It’s essential to check the specific exam dates for each school your child is applying to, as registration deadlines and testing schedules differ across the country. 

How do I register my child for the 11 Plus?

To register your child for 11 Plus exams, you’ll need to follow the specific procedures outlined by your local authority or the individual schools you’re applying to. 

In general, you should:

  • Research schools: Firstly, research the Grammar Schools or selective schools in your area that use 11 Plus exams. Make a list of the schools you’re interested in.
  • Registration deadlines: Check the registration deadlines for each school. These dates vary, so make sure you don’t miss them! We’ve listed application deadlines for every Grammar School in the country below.
  • Contact schools: Contact schools directly or visit their websites to find out about their registration process. Most local authorities have online registration forms, while some schools use paper or PDF application forms.
  • Complete the registration form: All that’s left to do is fill out the registration form accurately! Make sure to provide all required information, including your child’s details, contact information, and any supporting documents requested by the school.

To understand the secondary system in more detail, don’t miss our guide to Grammar Schools as well as an introduction to the 11 Plus and Grammar School teaching of the National Curriculum.

When to apply for 11 Plus exams 2024: Regional Deadlines

When to apply for 11 Plus exams 2024 in Berkshire

There are six Grammar Schools in Berkshire, spread across Reading and Slough. 

Reading School and Kendrick School are based in Reading. Grammar Schools in Slough are part of the Slough Consortium of Grammar Schools, with the same application deadlines and test dates.

For Reading School:

  • Registration opens: 1 April 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 14 June 2024
  • Test date: 4 September 2024

For Kendrick School:

  • Registration opens: 1 May 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 1 July 2024
  • Test date: 20 September 2024

For Slough Consortium of Grammar Schools:

  • Registration opens: 1 May 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 12 June 2024
  • Test date: 21 September 2024

Looking at Grammars in Slough? Here’s your essential 11 Plus entry guide.

When to apply for 11 Plus exams 2024 in Birmingham

There are eight Grammar Schools in Birmingham, all members of the West Midlands Grammar Schools Partnership. This means they all have the same registration and exam dates.

  • Registration opens: 7 May 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 28 June 2024
  • Test date: 14-16 September 2024

When to apply for 11 Plus exams 2024 in Buckinghamshire

There are thirteen Grammar Schools in Buckinghamshire, all part of the Buckingham Grammar Schools Consortium. As such, they all share the same key dates.

  • Registration opens: 3 May 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 14 June 2024
  • Test date: 12 September 2024

When to apply for 11 Plus exams 2024 in Cumbria

Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Penrith is the only Grammar School in Cumbria.

  • Registration opens: 1 May 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 12 July 2024
  • Test date: 14 September 2024

When to apply for 11 Plus exams 2024 in Devon

There are seven Grammar Schools in Devon, spread across East Devon, Plymouth and Torquay. Some of these Devon Grammars share application and exam dates.

For Torquay Grammar Schools:

  • Registration opens: March 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 5 September 2024
  • Test date: 14 September 2024

For Devonport High School for Boys and Plymouth Girls’ Grammar Schools:

  • Registration opens: 22 April
  • Final registration deadline: 31 August 2024
  • Test date: 14-21 September 2024

For Colyton Grammar School:

  • Registration opens: 1 April 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 6 September 2024
  • Test date: 21 September 2024

When to apply for 11 Plus exams 2024 in Dorset

There are four Grammar Schools in Dorset, all sharing the same registration and exam dates.

  • Registration opens: 15 April 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 6 September 2024
  • Test date: 21 September 2024

When to apply for 11 Plus exams 2024 in Essex

There are 11 Grammar Schools in Essex. They’re all members of the Consortium of Selective Schools in Essex, apart from Chelmsford County High School for Girls.

For Consortium of Selective Schools in Essex:

  • Registration opens: 14 May 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 28 June 2024
  • Test date: 21 September 2024

For Chelmsford County High School for Girls:

  • Registration opens: 24 April 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 21 June 2024
  • Test date: 13 September 2024

When to apply for 11 Plus exams 2024 in Gloucestershire

There are seven Grammar Schools in Gloucestershire, all with the same application and exam dates.

  • Registration opens: 20 May 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 28 June 2024
  • Test date: 14 September 2024

When to apply for 11 Plus exams 2024 in Greater Manchester

There are seven Grammar Schools in Greater Manchester. They are all members of the Trafford Grammar Schools Consortium, apart from Saint Ambrose College and Loreto Grammar School.

For Trafford Grammar Schools Consortium:

  • Registration opens: 25 April 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 21 June 2024
  • Test date: 16 September 2024

For Saint Ambrose College:

  • Registration opens: 18 April 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 14 July 2024
  • Test date: 22 September 2024

For Loreto Grammar School:

  • Registration opens: 29 June 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 31 July 2024
  • Test date: 20 September 2024

When to apply for 11 Plus exams 2024 in Hertfordshire

There aren’t any Grammar Schools in Hertfordshire, but there are partially-selective schools that are members of the South West Herts Schools Consortium.

  • Registration opens: 8 April 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 14 June 2024
  • Test date: 7 September 2024

For more information, read our guide to South West Herts Consortium Schools.

When to apply for 11 Plus exams 2024 in Kent

There are 32 Grammar Schools in Kent, all using the “Kent Test” with the same registration deadlines and exam dates.

  • Registration opens: 3 June 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 1 July 2024
  • Test date: 12 September 2024

Searching for schools in Kent? Here are the top ten Grammars and their 11 Plus formats.

When to apply for 11 Plus exams 2024 in Lancashire

There are four Grammar Schools in Lancashire.

For Clitheroe Royal Grammar School:

  • Registration opens: 3 June 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 13 September 2024
  • Test date: 28 September 2024

For Lancaster Royal Grammar School:

  • Registration opens: April 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 9 September 2024
  • Test date: 28 September 2024

Specific details for Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School and Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School are yet to be published.

When to apply for 11 Plus exams 2024 in Lincolnshire

There are sixteen Grammar Schools in Lincolnshire. They’re all members of the Lincolnshire Consortium of Grammar Schools, apart from Caistor Grammar School.

For Lincolnshire Consortium of Grammar Schools:

  • Registration opens: 5 January 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 21 March 2024
  • Test date: 14-21 September 2024

For Caistor Grammar School:

  • Registration opens: 1 March 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 16 August 2024
  • Test date: 21-28 September 2024

When to apply for 11 Plus exams 2024 in London

There are 19 Grammar Schools in London. Here are the key deadlines for each borough.


There are three Grammar Schools in Barnet, all with different admissions deadlines.

For Queen Elizabeth’s School:

  • Registration opens: 1 May 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 12 July 2024
  • Test date: 18-19 September 2024

For St Michael’s Catholic Grammar School:

  • Registration opens: 15 April 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 2 July 2024
  • Test date: 13 September 2024

For the Henrietta Barnett School:

  • Registration opens: 15 April 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 12 July 2024
  • Test date: First Round 3-4 September, Second Round 1 October 2024.

To find out more about the prestigious Queen Elizabeth’s School and Henrietta Barnett School, don’t miss our in-depth entrance guides.


There are four Grammar Schools in Bexley, all using the Bexley Selection Test.

  • Registration opens: 1 May 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 31 May 2024
  • Test date: 9-12 September 2024


There are two Grammar Schools in Bromley, with their own deadlines and processes.

For Newstead Wood School:

  • Registration opens: 1 May 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 30 June 2024
  • Test date: 27-28 September 2024

For St Olave’s Grammar School:

  • Registration opens: 10 June 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 1 July 2024
  • Test date: Stage 1 Test, 20 September 2024. Stage 2 Test, 15 November 2024.


There’s only one Grammar in Enfield, The Latymer School.

  • Registration opens: 16 March 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 14 June 2024
  • Test date: 1st, 7th and 8th September 2024


There are two Grammar Schools in Kingston-upon-Thames, both using a two-stage application process.

For Tiffin School:

  • Registration opens: 3 June 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 2 September 2024
  • Test date: Stage 1 Test, 15 October 2024. Stage 2 Test, November 2024 (date TBC).

For The Tiffin Girls’ School:

  • Registration opens: June 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 2 September 2024
  • Test date: Stage 1 Test, 3-4 October 2024. State 2 Test, November 2024 (date TBC).


There are two Grammar Schools in Redbridge (Ilford County High School and Woodford County High School), sharing key application and exam dates.

  • Registration opens: 1 May 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 31 May 2024
  • Test date: 20 September 2024


There are five Grammar Schools in Sutton, that all use the Sutton Selective Eligibility Test. Those performing well are invited for a second test at individual schools.

For the Sutton Selective Eligibility Test:

  • Registration opens: 1 May 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 2 August 2024
  • Test date: 17 September 2024

Second-round test dates

For Nonsuch High School for Girls and Wallington High School for Girls:

  • Test date: 28 September 2028

For Sutton Grammar School, Wilson’s School and Wallington County Grammar School:

  • Test date: 5 October 2024

Searching for the best schools in the capital? Check out our guides to the best Grammar Schools, private schools and state secondaries in London.

When to apply for 11 Plus exams 2024 in Medway

There are six Grammar Schools in the Medway area, all using the “Medway Test”.

  • Registration opens: 20 May 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 14 June 2024
  • Test date: 17-22 September 2024

When to apply for 11 Plus exams 2024 in Merseyside

There are six Grammar Schools in Merseyside. One in Liverpool and six on the Wirral. Four schools use the “Wirral Admissions Test”, the others have their own tests and application deadlines.

For Wirral Admissions Test Schools:

For St Anselm’s College:

  • Final registration deadline: 13 September 2024
  • Test date: 20 September 2024

For Upton Hall School:

  • Final registration deadline: 12 July 2024
  • Test date: 14 September 2024

When to apply for 11 Plus exams 2024 in the West Midlands

All Grammar Schools in the West Midlands (including Grammars in Birmingham) are part of the West Midlands Grammar Schools Partnership. This means students sit the same tests at the same time.

  • Registration opens: 7 May 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 28 June 2024
  • Test date: 14-16 September 2024

When to apply for 11 Plus exams 2024 in Wiltshire

There are two Grammar Schools in Wiltshire.

For Bishop Wordsworth’s School:

  • Registration opens: 15 April 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 13 September 2024
  • Test date: 28 September 2024

For South Wiltshire Grammar School:

  • Registration opens: 1 June 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 1 September 2024
  • Test date: 21 September 2024

When to apply for 11 Plus exams 2024 in Yorkshire

There are six Grammar Schools in Yorkshire, with separate application and exam dates.

For Crossley Heath School and North Halifax Grammar School:

  • Registration opens: 22 March 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 28 June 2024
  • Test date: 21 September 2024

For Ermysted’s Grammar School:

  • Registration opens: 8 April 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 2 September 2024
  • Test date: 28 September 2024

For Heckmondwike Grammar School:

  • Registration opens: 15 May 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 24 June 2024
  • Test date: 13 September 2024

For Ripon Grammar School:

  • Registration opens: April 2024
  • Final registration deadline: June 2024
  • Test date: Early September 2024 (date TBC)

For Skipton Girls’ High School:

  • Registration opens: 1 May 2024
  • Final registration deadline: 28 August 2024
  • Test date: 28 September 2024

Preparing for the 11 Plus: A Quickfire Guide

When should I start preparing for the 11 Plus?

Optimal timing for starting 11 Plus preparation varies depending on your child’s academic abilities, temperament and experience. 

While some children require only a few months of targeted practice closer to the exam date, most benefit from at least a year of structured support and tuition to build confidence and proficiency across core skills.

With this in mind, many parents start 11 Plus preparation from Year 4 or Year 5.

What is a good score for the 11 Plus?

The pass mark for 11 Plus exams varies across schools and local authorities. 

On average, a score of around 80% is considered “good”, though this threshold differs from school to school. 

Standardised age scores generally range from 60 to 142. While 100 is the “average” score, 120 or above represents the top 10% of students.

Some Grammar Schools set a qualifying score for entry (say 110), but this won’t be consistent across the country. So it’s essential to check with individual schools or consortiums for specific information.

Other schools rank scores from highest to lowest, offering places to a set amount of the highest-achieving pupils. This means a “good” score (i.e. one that gets your child a place at Grammar School) changes each year.

Can an average child pass the 11 Plus?

Yes, absolutely!

Success in 11 Plus exams is more than achievable with dedication, appropriate preparation and perseverance. At Achieve Learning, our 1-1 tuition (tailored exactly to your child’s needs) helps every child achieve their full academic potential.

However, it’s important to remember that Grammar Schools prioritise only the most academically gifted students. So while it’s possible for many students to achieve top marks in 11 Plus exams, an “average” score won’t secure entry.

Can you pass the 11 Plus without tuition?

Yes, but it takes dedication from both parents and children!

While personal tuition offers invaluable guidance and support (particularly for targeted exam preparation), it is possible to pass the 11 Plus through independent study and resources such as reading lists, mock tests and revision guides. Bond 11+ books, GL Assessment and CGP CEM practice papers are all particularly helpful.

However, proactive parental involvement and engagement are crucial in maximising your child’s potential.

Not sure whether the 11 Plus is right for your child? We provide specialist exam consultancy to assess your child’s 11 Plus readiness and areas of strength or weakness. This can help you decide whether 1-1 tuition is necessary, and understand how to build your child’s core skills, exam technique and 11 Plus confidence.

How do I get my child into Grammar School?

Achieving admission to grammar school requires thorough preparation and strategic planning. 

At Achieve Learning, we offer personalised tuition, academic consultancy, mock exams, and more to equip your child with the skills and confidence needed to excel in the 11 Plus. 

For expert assistance and a proven track record of success, contact Achieve Learning today and discover how we can support your child’s journey towards Grammar School admission.

When to Apply for 11 Plus Exams 2024: Key Dates and Deadlines Read More »

Your 11 Plus Exams Guide: A Comprehensive Introduction for Parents

Are you and your child gearing up for 11 Plus exams? It’s a significant milestone, and one that causes its fair share of sleepless nights and plenty of questions.

Well, we’re here to help ease that pressure.

To help you understand the 11 Plus, from top tips for preparation, to when to apply and what the exams actually contain, we’ll guide you through every step of the process. We’ll also look at how the 11 Plus compares with SATs and how hard it really is to pass.

In this comprehensive introduction for parents, we’ll demystify the 11 Plus, exploring regional variations, addressing common concerns and giving expert advice on how to help your child prepare appropriately.

What is the 11 Plus? A Brief Overview

The 11 Plus is an entrance exam taken by students in the UK in their final year of primary education (usually at the age of 10 or 11). It serves as a selection criterion for entry into selective grammar and private schools. Content differs from school to school, but normally includes subjects like English, Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning.

When it comes to getting into Private Schools and Grammars, some schools solely use 11 Plus exam scores to decide who gets in. Others mix test results with things like how close you live to the school and if any siblings already attend.

If you’re unsure about a school’s 11 Plus admission policy, check their website or talk to their admissions team. Specialised tutors, like us at Achieve Learning, can also help you and your child understand requirements, prepare effectively and ace those 11 Plus exams!

To understand the Grammar School system in more depth, explore our dedicated Parents’ Guide to Grammars.

How many exams are there in the 11 Plus?

The number of papers and subjects covered in 11 Plus exams varies between regions and schools. 

For state schools in Buckinghamshire (for example), students normally face tests in Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning and Maths. But in Kent and Warwickshire, 11 Plus tests also include English papers featuring Comprehension and Creative Writing components. 

Even within one area (say Grammars in Barnet, London), 11 Plus requirements vary from school to school. For instance, Queen Elizabeth’s School uses two multiple-choice exams in Maths and English. The Henrietta Barnett School has two rounds of testing, covering a range of English, Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning papers. St Michael’s Catholic Grammar in Barnet is different again, opting for multiple-choice papers in verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning and Maths.

It’s so important for parents to carefully research and understand the specific exams their child will face. This lets you tailor your preparation accordingly and stops your child feeling confused or surprised on the day.

Are you searching for Grammar Schools in and around London? If so, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of London Grammars as well as the best schools in the capital. You can also find in-depth guides to Grammar Schools in Harrow and 11 Plus exams for the South West Hertfordshire Consortium.

When is best to apply for the 11 Plus exam?

Like the content of 11 Plus exams, application timelines for the 11 Plus vary by region and school. 

In general though, many Grammar Schools commence their registration process in April or May. Deadlines usually fall around June or July for parents to enrol their child for September 11 Plus exams.

These timelines vary massively from school to school (as well as between state schools and private schools), so always check specific dates with each school you’re applying to.

To give just one example, for Queen Elizabeth’s School, their “entrance test request form” is available from May. There’s a July deadline for all applications. This registers children to sit the school’s September 11 Plus exams, for entry the following year.

How do I know if my child should sit the 11 Plus?

Deciding whether the 11 Plus is right for your child is a big deal! It’s important to remember these exams won’t suit everyone. Indeed, a grammar school environment won’t be the perfect fit for every child.

If your child enjoys academic challenges, if they perform highly on English, Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning tasks and thrive with supportive pressure – then sitting 11 Plus exams should be absolutely fine.

When deciding whether to put your child forward for the 11 Plus, consider their earning style, academic aptitude and long-term educational goals. It’s also a good idea to ask your child’s current teachers, attend open days at potential schools (to really get a feel for the environment) and most importantly – ask your child! How do they feel about sitting 11 Plus exams and their secondary choices? 

Making an informed decision together will minimise stress or uncertainty surrounding these exams and the transition to secondary.

Of course, a Grammar School education goes beyond just academics – the focus on critical thinking and a challenging yet rewarding curriculum sets students up for success in university and beyond.

The skills and confidence gained at grammar school aren’t just about getting a job or securing a spot at a top uni either. For those who thrive in this environment, it fosters lifelong intellectual curiosity and self-assurance.

What is the pass mark for the 11 Plus?

There isn’t a single fixed pass mark for the 11 Plus. It varies based on factors like the difficulty of the paper, childrens’ performance and the number of available spaces in selective schools. 

Instead of thinking about a set percentage, it’s more about performing well relative to other candidates. For instance, if a school has 100 Year 7 places, they’ll accept the 100 students with the highest 11 Plus marks.

You should know that Grammar Schools often have other selection criteria as well as 11 Plus marks. This could include whether you live in the catchment area or if a brother or sister already attends the school. 

Some private schools also have interviews after exams too. So even a very high score in the 11 Plus doesn’t automatically secure a place!

As always, check with individual schools’ admissions departments if you’re unsure on their entrance policies. They’ll be happy to advise.

How hard is it to pass the 11 Plus?

Of course, the difficulty of passing 11 Plus exams (and securing a spot at your school of choice) varies from child to child. These tests are designed to be challenging to identify the brightest pupils. 

But with the right preparation, many students succeed and excel. Success in the 11 Plus depends on a combination of natural ability, effective preparation and a positive mindset (we’ll cover how to prepare later in this guide!).

In England, there are just 163 Grammars out of a total of 3,458 secondary schools. So entry is definitely competitive.

Despite approximately 100,000 students taking 11 Plus exams each year, there are only around 15,000 places up for grabs. This means there’s a roughly 1 in 6 chance for students seeking admission. Remember this doesn’t include all the students who decided not to sit the 11 Plus though! 

In regions with less grammar schools (or higher populations), this ratio could be 1 in 10. It might be even higher for particularly sought-after schools.

Which is harder, SATs or the 11 Plus?

While both exams have their own level of difficulty, the 11 Plus is typically considered more challenging than Year 6 SATs

This is because the 11 Plus is crafted to identify the most academically capable students, for entrance into selective Grammar Schools. Unlike SATs (which are closely aligned with the national curriculum and focus on assessing a broader range of skills and knowledge), the 11 Plus often includes tricky questions and topics that children may not encounter in their regular school curriculum.

The 11 Plus tests students on various subjects such as English, Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. Questions are designed to assess analytical thinking, problem-solving abilities and high-level reasoning skills. These exams demand sophisticated critical thinking and often require students to apply their knowledge in unfamiliar contexts.

In contrast, SATs primarily evaluate students’ understanding of the curriculum they’ve covered in school, including core subjects like English, Maths (and sometimes science). While SATs can still be challenging, they generally adhere closely to the topics and concepts outlined in the national curriculum, making them more predictable in terms of content.

For more detailed information on SATs and how to prepare your child, read our complete parents’ guide to the SATs.

Can you pass the 11 Plus without tutoring?

While tutoring undeniably offers valuable support in 11 Plus preparation, it’s not the only pathway to success. Think of it as just one of the puzzle-pieces forming part of a well-rounded 11 Plus strategy!

Many children successfully navigate the 11 Plus through diligent independent study. However, expert tutoring provides individualised guidance on exam strategy, access to specialised practice materials, and constructive feedback tailored to your child’s strengths and weaknesses. 

The decision to opt for tutoring or independent (parent-assisted) study hinges on various factors. This includes our child’s learning style, your budget considerations and the availability of tutors and learning centres near you. Yes, you can pass without private tuition. But for many families, investing in tutoring offers the extra edge needed for success.

As well as tutoring, practice exams (particularly those offered by reputable independent providers like us at Achieve Learning), play a pivotal role in preparation. They offer invaluable insights into the format, structure and style of 11 Plus exams, additional feedback, and help students understand the time constraints and various question types.

It’s essential to note that while tutoring and mock exams are beneficial, they should complement rather than replace a comprehensive and well-rounded study plan. Ultimately, the key lies in understanding your child’s needs and preparing accordingly!

How long should you study for the 11 Plus?

Crafting the perfect study timeline for the 11 Plus involves finding that sweet spot between readiness, avoiding burnout, and keeping things engaging for your child.

Parents often wonder when to kick off 11 Plus prep. While Year 4 is a common starting point (giving two years of preparation), some opt to dive in during Year 5. If your child is highly academic, they might only need a year – but most do well with two.

Not sure where you’re at? Have a go at a few practice papers together. You’ll soon understand your child’s readiness levels and how much time they need…

You can find free practice papers and familiarisation materials from 11 Plus providers like GL Assessment. Most schools also provide sample papers on their website.

In terms of timings, striking that balance is key. You want to start early enough to avoid last-minute stress and panic, but not so early that your child tunes out from boredom. 

Remember, every child is different. Some might thrive with a longer prep period, while others need a bit of a sprint toward the finish line. Keep an eye on your child’s energy levels and make adjustments as needed to keep them engaged and motivated.

Whenever you start, aim for calm consistency. By chipping away at 11 Plus preparation over time, you give your child the chance to absorb the material without feeling overwhelmed. Plus, spreading it out means they have plenty of time to fine-tune their skills and build that all-important confidence.

How do I prepare my child for the 11 Plus?

We’ve already covered a fair amount of advice on getting ready for the 11 Plus, but here are a few more pointers to help you and your child prepare – confidently and calmly.

  • Start early: Begin preparations at least in Year 4 or Year 5 (depending on your child’s abilities). This ensures a gradual, steady approach, instilling a sense of confidence and readiness in your child.
  • Create a schedule: Just like preparing for any other exam, create a realistic study timetable for your child – make sure your schedule balances academic subjects, practice exams, games and plenty of breaks.
  • Use varied resources: Use a mix of practice books (available from any local bookstore), online materials, mock tests and educational games (especially word games and quick maths) to keep learning fun and engaging.
  • Encourage reading: Foster a love of reading to enhance verbal and comprehension skills. Build this into your daily routine, for instance as a bonding activity before bedtime. If you’re unsure where to start, we’ve already compiled an 11 Plus reading list to boost your child’s vocabulary, so have an explore!
  • Practice regularly: Consistent practice, especially with timed exercises, helps build confidence and familiarity with exam conditions. If practice is just a regular part of your child’s everyday routine, this will lessen any stress and create solid foundational skills.
  • Support mental well-being: Exams can be a stressful event, even for adults. So prioritise your child’s mental health throughout. Emphasise a positive mindset with plenty of praise, as well as stress management and relaxation techniques.
  • Monitor progress: Keep track of your child’s development (with a view to key areas of strength and weakness) through regular practice tests. Once you’ve gone through the results together, adjust your study plan accordingly.
  • Engage with teachers and tutors: Maintain open communication with teachers and tutors for insights into your child’s strengths and areas needing improvement. They can also advise on further activities and exercises to build on your child’s learning.
  • Celebrate achievements: Acknowledge and celebrate milestones, instilling a sense of accomplishment and motivation. Preparing for the 11 Plus takes a lot of hard work and determination, so let your child know how proud you are – whatever the outcome!

Are you preparing your child for 11 Plus exams?

Successfully navigating the 11 Plus involves a thorough understanding of the exam structure, application deadlines, and your child’s unique needs and learning style. 

Balancing academic preparation with mental readiness is vital, and tailoring your approach based on your child’s strengths and weaknesses will contribute to a more successful and positive experience. 

Remember, every child is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to the 11 Plus. So if you’d like personalised tuition, access to mock tests, consultancy and feedback, get in touch with our expert team today. At Achieve Learning, we’ll help your child succeed and thrive – whatever their academic goals.

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Powerful Adjectives for 11 Plus Writing: How To Make Your Stories Shine

Are you and your child gearing up for 11 Plus entrance exams? 

If so, you’ll know that enhancing your child’s creative writing skills can make a significant difference in their performance. Almost all 11 Plus exams (whether for state grammars or private schools) feature a writing component – normally in the form of an extended story.

So, what’s the best way to do this?

One of the most powerful tools to elevate your child’s storytelling is the use of adjectives. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore what adjectives are, what makes a powerful adjective, and how incorporating them into creative writing can give your child a competitive edge. We’ll also cover 39 examples of powerful adjectives in practice.

Ready? Let’s turn the ordinary into the extraordinary with this deep dive into the enchanting world of adjectives.

What is an adjective?

Let’s start by breaking it down without getting into too much grammar.

Think of an adjective like a flavour booster for sentences – it’s the word that jazzes up the nouns, giving them that extra oomph. 

Instead of just a “sky,” we get a “mesmerising blue sky.”

In grammatical terms, an adjective is just a word that modifies or describes a noun (essentially, things). It provides additional information about the noun, enhancing our overall understanding of the sentence.

For example, in the phrase “the hairy dog,” the word “hairy” is an adjective describing the dog.

So, what makes an adjective powerful?

What is a powerful adjective?

Powerful adjectives add vivid imagery and heightened emotions to the nouns they modify. Instead of generic (and often rather boring) terms, they paint a more detailed picture. This makes your child’s writing stand out to the reader – and often means higher marks for engaging stories using advanced vocabulary.

Picture this: “The cat was big.” 

Now, let’s sprinkle some magic on it – “The cat was a gigantic, majestic fluffball.” 

See the difference? 

Powerful adjectives go beyond basic descriptions. They create images, emotions and a sense of wonder. 

That much-awaited birthday party? It’s not just a “happy” day, it’s an “ecstatic, euphoric, jumping-for-joy and over-the-moon” occasion… 

You get the picture. 

So, why are powerful adjectives so important for the 11 Plus?

Why are adjectives important for 11 Plus exams?

In the context of 11 Plus exams, where language skills and creative writing are assessed, adjectives play a pivotal role. Examiners are not only looking for grammatical correctness but also for a rich and expressive use of language.

Well-chosen adjectives demonstrate a higher level of vocabulary and creativity, making your child’s writing more compelling and memorable. They’re the secret weapon your child’s stories need to stand out from the crowd.

Expanding your child’s vocabulary will also help with comprehension passages and verbal reasoning. So it really is a win, win all round.

It’s important to mention, this doesn’t mean turning your child’s creative writing into a constant stream of description. Powerful adjectives are more about adding a pop of creativity and colour here and there.

So here are a few rules to help your child use powerful adjectives to best advantage.

How to use powerful adjectives in creative writing: Do’s and Don’ts


  • Be specific: Wave goodbye to generic descriptions. Big? Shiny? Odd…? We can do better than that. Dive into the details – “gargantuan,” “sparkling,” “whimsical.” Make those adjectives pop!
  • Show, don’t tell: Move beyond just saying “he was sad.” How about “teardrops glistened on his cheeks, painting a poignant picture of his sorrow”? Now that’s better. Actions speak louder than adjectives alone.
  • Variety is key: The spice of life, right? Encourage your budding wordsmith to mix it up. A rich vocabulary is a storytelling superpower. So help them explore a diverse range of descriptions to maintain the reader’s interest and prevent monotony.


  • Overuse: Remember, it’s a sprinkle, not a downpour. Too many adjectives can drown the magic and overwhelm the reader. Teach your child to choose judiciously, focusing on quality over quantity.
  • Clichés: Avoid the overused and ordinary. Challenge your child to find unique and original ways to express ideas. Let their creativity run wild!
  • Redundancy: Avoid repeating similar adjectives within close proximity. Challenge your child to diversify their language choices and keep the narrative fresh.

How can I improve my child’s vocabulary?

A lot of the advice we’ve just listed boils down to one thing – helping your child expand their vocabulary. After all, they can’t use all those amazing adjectives if they don’t know them!

One of the best ways to improve their language skills is turning vocabulary-building into a game. Here are a few ideas to help you get started. Who said learning can’t be fun?

  • Read together: Dive into all sorts of books. Different genres. Modern, classics, magazines – whatever! When you stumble on a new word, make it a treasure hunt to find its meaning and how it fits into the story. This not only introduces new vocabulary but also helps with comprehension skills.
  • Word games: It’s game night, but with a twist. Scrabble, Boggle, word association or crossword puzzles – pick your potion. These activities make learning enjoyable and competitive while reinforcing word recognition and spelling. All of a sudden, learning new words becomes an exciting challenge.
  • Contextual learning: Make words part of everyday life. Encourage your child to use new words in sentences, weaving them seamlessly into their storytelling. This not only helps them understand the meaning but also teaches them how to apply words appropriately in different contexts.
  • Themed word lists: Create lists tied to your child’s interests or upcoming exam topics. If it’s nature (for example), compile a list of descriptive words related to landscapes, weather, or flora and fauna. Think “majestic mountains,” “serene meadows,” or “mysterious forests.”

30 examples of powerful adjectives in use

Now we’ve covered what powerful adjectives are and why they’re so important for 11 Plus writing, here are 30 examples of powerful adjectives in use.

Challenge yourself and your child to add another 30 to this list!

  • 1. Standard: The cat was big.
  • Powerful: The cat was a gigantic growling creature.
  • 2. Standard: The house was old.
  • Powerful: The house was an ancient, time-worn mansion.
  • 3. Standard: Her smile was pretty.
  • Powerful: Her smile was a radiant, enchanting burst of joy.
  • 4. Standard: The mountain was high.
  • Powerful: The mountain was an imposing, towering titan in the landscape.
  • 5. Standard: The book was interesting.
  • Powerful: The book was a captivating, spellbinding journey into the unknown.
  • 6. Standard: His car was fast.
  • Powerful: His car was a rapid, turbocharged beast on the road.
  • 7. Standard: The tree was tall.
  • Powerful: The tree was a soaring, majestic giant reaching for the sky.
  • 8. Standard: The movie was good.
  • Powerful: The movie was a phenomenal, gripping masterpiece.
  • 9. Standard: The storm was strong.
  • Powerful: The storm was a formidable, relentless force of nature.
  • 10. Standard: Her dress was beautiful.
  • Powerful: Her dress was an exquisite, ethereal masterpiece.
  • 11. Standard: The ocean was deep.
  • Powerful: The ocean was a bottomless, mysterious abyss teeming with life.
  • 12. Standard: His voice was loud.
  • Powerful: His voice was a booming, resonant echo that filled the room.
  • 13. Standard: The dessert was sweet.
  • Powerful: The dessert was a decadent, saccharine confection melting on the taste buds.
  • 14. Standard: The city was crowded.
  • Powerful: The city was a bustling, vibrant metropolis teeming with energy.
  • 15. Standard: The journey was long.
  • Powerful: The journey was an epic, never-ending odyssey through time and space.
  • 16. Standard: The flower was red.
  • Powerful: The flower was a vibrant, scarlet bloom, stealing attention in the garden.
  • 17. Standard: The song was nice.
  • Powerful: The song was a melodic, soul-stirring symphony that echoed in the heart.
  • 18. Standard: The canyon was wide.
  • Powerful: The canyon was an expansive, yawning chasm in the earth’s embrace.
  • 19. Standard: The smell was good.
  • Powerful: The smell was an enticing, mouth-watering aroma that filled the kitchen.
  • 20. Standard: The technology was advanced.
  • Powerful: The technology was a cutting-edge, futuristic marvel pushing the boundaries.
  • 21. Standard: His idea was smart.
  • Powerful: His idea was a brilliant, innovative stroke of genius.
  • 22. Standard: The forest was green.
  • Powerful: The forest was a lush, emerald expanse stretching as far as the eye could see.
  • 23. Standard: The sunrise was beautiful.
  • Powerful: The sunrise was a breathtaking, kaleidoscopic spectacle painting the sky.
  • 24. Standard: The building was high.
  • Powerful: The building was a soaring, architectural wonder dominating the skyline.
  • 25. Standard: The beach was clean.
  • Powerful: The beach was a pristine, golden shoreline inviting barefoot adventures.
  • 26. Standard: The laughter was loud.
  • Powerful: The laughter was a contagious, uproarious symphony filling the room.
  • 27. Standard: The performance was enjoyable.
  • Powerful: The performance was an outstanding, show-stopping display of talent.
  • 28. Standard: The coffee was hot.
  • Powerful: The coffee was a scalding, invigorating elixir warming the soul.
  • 29. Standard: The party was fun.
  • Powerful: The party was an exhilarating, unforgettable celebration of joy.
  • 30. Standard: The challenge was difficult.
  • Powerful: The challenge was an arduous, exhausting test of skill and determination.

Looking for help with 11 Plus preparation?

So, there you have it – your guide on how to help your child sprinkle that little bit of descriptive fairy dust on their writing. Happy storytelling, wordsmiths!

If you’d like help preparing your child for 11 Plus exams, get in touch today. With 20 years experience delivering exam success and securing places at the most prestigious schools, we’ll help your child face their 11 Plus with confidence.

Powerful Adjectives for 11 Plus Writing: How To Make Your Stories Shine Read More »

Excellence in Education: What are the Best Grammar Schools in London?

Helping your child start their secondary journey is a time full of choices. How can you know where your child will receive the best education? And for that matter, what sort of school is best for their unique skills and personality?

For many parents in the capital, finding the best grammar schools is a key part of this journey. We’ve already introduced each of London’s nineteen grammars (so have a read to find schools near you), but now it’s time to hone in on the top ten.

If you’re aiming for academic excellence and top-class facilities, here’s your list of the ten best grammars in London. We’ll also explore whether children do better at grammar schools, how hard it is to gain entrance and the perennial question – are grammar schools really worth it?

What are the top ten grammar schools in London?

London’s grammar schools are known for their rigourous academic standards and commitment to students’ all-round growth. While their exam results are certainly impressive, a grammar education brings so much more. It’s a supportive and friendly environment where your child is surrounded by academic and ambitious peers – providing a thorough grounding and friendships for life.

Here are the top ten grammars in London, as ranked by Britannia Study for 2023.

  1. Queen Elizabeth’s School
  2. Nonsuch High School for Girls
  3. Henrietta Barnett School
  4. Wallington High School for Girls
  5. Wilson’s School
  6. St Michael’s Catholic Grammar School
  7. Townley Grammar School
  8. The Latymer School
  9. The Tiffin Girls’ School
  10. Woodford County High School

These schools are ranked on the percentage of students achieving five or more GCSE passes (in fact all top ten grammars have either 99% or 100% success rates) as well as the government’s “Progress 8” score. 

A Progress 8 score measures achievement from the end of primary to Year 11. Students’ GCSE results are compared with national averages from similar starting points. A score above 0 is better than average, while less than 0 is below average. 

For the top ten London grammars, these scores range from 0.76 for The Latymer School to an amazing 1.22 for Queen Elizabeth’s Boys Grammar.

There are a few different league tables for schools in the UK, and of course these results change each year. But rest assured, if your child attends any of these ten institutions, they’ll receive a top-notch education.

To discover more about the grammar school system and how to prepare your child for 11+ exams, read our introduction to grammar schools in the UK.

What is the top grammar school ranking in the UK?

Queen Elizabeth’s Boys Grammar is not only the best grammar school in London, but it’s also the best grammar school in the entire country.

It regularly tops national league tables and has a deserved reputation for excellence. In fact, Queen Elizabeth’s performs better than many leading private schools in terms of exam results – so you’d be hard pressed to find better for your child!

Based on a 25 acre site on the edge of the green-belt in High Barnet (but still within easy reach of central London), this school’s prestigious reputation isn’t just a historic accolade, but a testament to its ongoing commitment to academic excellence. 

In his welcoming remarks, the headmaster stresses their commitment to “academic development at the highest level”, but also “good foundations” such as meritocracy, perseverance and hard work to nurture “analytical thinkers who will thrive at university and beyond”.

With distinguished faculty and cutting-edge facilities, Queen Elizabeth’s has recently celebrated some of the best results in its history. 82.9% of all GCSE results were grade 9 or 8, while 89.1% of A Levels were A or A*.

With success stories like this, the school is only going from strength to strength – solidifying it’s standing as a bastion of educational excellence.

Is it hard to get into grammar school?

Securing a coveted grammar school spot is an amazing achievement. But yes, it can be challenging.

Entry depends on your child’s score in 11+ exams and competition is fierce. Around 100,00 students sit these exams each year, with just 5% of children in England eventually attending a grammar.

Instead of a cut-off mark, many schools select pupils in descending order, depending on their exam performance. This means your child has to outperform many of their peers to secure a space.

We’ve already delved into some of the main points to consider when preparing for these exams, from challenging reading lists to mock tests and revision tips, so do explore our previous blogs.

But in short, navigating this competitive landscape requires academic ability and a long-term strategic approach to help your child achieve their full potential. If you’re exploring 11+ tuition and mock exams, get in touch with our expert team today.

Do children do better at grammar schools?

Now, this is a controversial and much debated question. 

Do grammar schools outperform state schools in terms of GCSE and A Level grades alone? In general, yes. 

Given there’s only 163 grammars in the country (and a total of 4,172 secondary schools), there’s way more grammars in national league tables than you’d expect.

However, research conducted by Durham University (looking at a sample of 500,000 students), found results from grammars were “no better than expected” once factors like poverty, language, ethnicity and special educational needs were considered.

Beyond just academic results though, the rigorous curriculum and emphasis on critical thinking at grammar schools undoubtedly empowers students in their university careers, graduate jobs and beyond.

The foundations laid at grammar school become a stepping stone not only for successful careers but creates self-confidence and academic curiosity that stays with your child for the rest of their life.

Are grammar schools worth it?

There’s no doubt, the decision to invest time and effort in 11+ preparation is significant. However, in our opinion, the long-term benefits far outweigh initial hard work.

If your budget allows, private schools are an alternative – offering similarly high academic results but with more freedom to follow their own educational philosophy. The independent nature of private school might suit some children better, with smaller class sizes and less pressure placed solely on academics.

Having said this, many state schools also provide a commendable education, with impressive GCSE and A Level results as well as great facilities. To find schools, academies and colleges in your area (and check their performance) head to the government website and enter your postcode.

Really, whether grammar school is worth it depends on your child’s needs, your family circumstances, their academic abilities and goals. Parents must weigh initial investments of tutoring and exam practice against long-term potential advantages.

Here are a few more factors to consider.

  • University placements: Many grammar schools have a track record of sending students to top-tier universities. The focused academic environment and demanding curriculum prepares students well for the challenges of higher education.
  • Career prospects: While it’s not a guaranteed ticket to success, the solid educational foundation provided by grammar schools can contribute to future career achievements. Networking opportunities, strong academic credentials and a competitive edge are all associated with a grammar education.
  • Happiness and exam results: Of course happiness is subjective, but many students thrive in the challenging yet supportive grammar environment. Better exam results tend to stem from this positive approach to learning, leading to a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence that stays with your child.

Nonetheless, it’s important to note that grammar school might not be the perfect fit for every child. The relatively high-pressure environment may not suit everyone’s learning style and academic capabilities, and there are many successful individuals who attended non-selective schools. 

Considering London grammar schools for your child?

Get your child’s academic journey off to the best possible start with Achieve Learning. Our tailored academic consultancy services, effective mock exams and specialised 11+ tuition are designed for success. Contact us today to discuss your child’s needs.

Excellence in Education: What are the Best Grammar Schools in London? Read More »

11 Plus Mock Tests: A Parents’ Guide for 2024

The 11 Plus is a major milestone in most children’s education. It’s a gateway to selective schools (both state-funded and independent) offering a range of benefits including smaller class sizes, improved resources and facilities, and a challenging yet engaging curriculum.

For parents, however, the 11 Plus exam can be a source of stress. You naturally want your child to do well, but also don’t want to put too much pressure on them.

One way to help your child prepare for 11 Plus exams is mock tests. They’re an excellent way of helping your child feel comfortable and confident for the real thing, and identify any areas of improvement.

So, if you’re thinking of 11 Plus mock tests for your child – here’s all the information you need. We’ll explore the benefits of mock testing, the best ways to prepare and what to do once results are in.

What is the 11 Plus?

If you’re thinking about 11 Plus mock tests, you probably already have a fairly good idea about what the 11 Plus exam is. But for anyone unsure, the 11 Plus is a school entrance exam taken by children in their last year of primary education (normally at the age of 10 or 11). It’s used by grammar, partially selective and private schools to determine admission.

These exams typically include some elements of verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, maths and english. Some schools might also have additional admissions criteria based on music, science or sports (for example). 

11 Plus exams are designed to be challenging, as they assess whether your child will flourish in an academically-driven environment. But the good news is with adequate preparation – there’s no reason your child can’t succeed.

What are 11 Plus mock tests?

11 Plus mock tests closely replicate the 11 Plus exams your child will face. They’re arranged by independent providers (like us at Achieve Learning) and are an excellent way to help your child prepare for the real thing. These assessments take place in external test settings, helping children understand exam environments and overcome their nerves. 

As well as the testing environment, the format of mock tests is as close as possible to the real 11 Plus – giving your child the opportunity to practise exam technique and build their confidence.

At Achieve Learning, our 11 Plus mock tests are fully unique and carefully designed to accurately reflect the real exams. For instance, our South West Hertfordshire Consortium exams replicate the maths and verbal reasoning papers your child will face for this group of 7 partially selective schools. Equally, our Queen Elizabeth’s Boys School 11 Plus mock tests reflect the school’s use of maths and english papers set by GL Assessment.

What are the benefits of 11 Plus mock tests?

There are so many benefits to 11 Plus mock tests. Just some of the advantages include:

  • Overcoming nerves: Lots of children haven’t had any experience with external tests outside of their classroom environment. Mock tests help them overcome their nerves and perform to the best of their ability.
  • Improve exam technique and confidence: 11 Plus mock tests help your child work on their exam technique and time management. This will build confidence, reduce anxiety and develop good habits for the day, such as taking toilet breaks before the test and answering questions in the correct format.
  • Identify areas of strength and weakness: Practice tests are a great way of identifying your child’s unique strengths and weaknesses under formal testing environments. This gauges your child’s ability in relation to other students and helps you target revision and preparation effectively.
  • Assessing stamina: Sitting multiple back-to-back exams can be exhausting for children. It’s very different from home or familiar school surroundings. 11 Plus mock tests assess your child’s stamina and improve their ability to sit (and concentrate) for extended periods. 
  • Understanding the exam format: A reputable provider will ensure the format of 11 Plus mock tests is as close as possible to real exams. This is invaluable for helping you and your child become familiar with the structure and format of your chosen school’s tests.

How can I help my child prepare for 11 Plus mock tests?

Just like the real deal, preparing for 11 Plus mock tests is essential. If you want genuine insights into your child’s strengths and weaknesses, it’s important to help them perform to the best of their ability.

Here are a few tips to bear in mind:

  • Talk to your child: Explain the rationale behind 11 Plus mock tests and try to reduce any anxiety or pressure they might feel. Too much pressure can be counterproductive, so keeping things calm, quiet, supportive and positive is key!
  • Practice papers: There are plenty of familiarisation papers available from GL Assessment, to help your child understand the exam format before their mock tests. You can often find sample papers on school websites too, so do check-in with the school you’re applying to. 
  • Don’t sit too many tests: Sitting too many mock tests can be draining for your child. As a rule of thumb, two or three papers in the few months before exams (starting roughly from June) is ideal.
  • Work on key skills: Practise the key skills your child will need. As well as maths and english content, think about critical thinking skills and logic games to make learning fun. For instance, online quizzes (from sites like BBC Bitesize), and games like Scrabble, Bananagrams, sudokus and crosswords all help.
  • Timing and techniques: As part of your work with past papers, don’t underestimate the importance of exam timings on the day. Help your child understand how long they can spend on each section and question. As part of this, establish a regular study routine (that doesn’t tire them out!) to help your child develop good study habits in the run-up to exams.
  • Consider tutoring: Personalised 1-1 tutoring can be a fantastic way to help your child prepare for 11 Plus exams (whether mock tests or not!). Tutors will provide personalised instruction and help your child identify and address any areas where they’re struggling. 

What can parents do after 11 Plus mock test results?

At Achieve Learning, we provide a full feedback report on your child’s mock test results (including revision tips and areas for improvement), emailed within five working days.

Once you have the results of your child’s 11 Plus mock tests, it’s time to identify key areas of improvement and formulate a strategy for moving forward. Creating a thorough plan and discussing results can lead to significant improvement – especially if your child’s score was impacted by exam day nerves, time management issues or misunderstandings on specific topics. 

As well as practising timed papers (focusing on areas identified in 11 Plus mock tests), encouraging your child to develop a growth mindset is vitally important. A “growth mindset” is the belief that your abilities can develop through hard work and dedication. By instilling confidence in your child, you can help them stay motivated and engaged in their studies. 

Finally, we’ve already talked about the importance of reducing anxiety, but it’s so important to keep everything in perspective. 11 Plus exams aren’t the end of the world, and there are still plenty of other great schools out there! Remind your child their worth isn’t determined by test results and there are many paths to success. If your child is really struggling with mock tests, don’t put too much pressure on them – and focus on finding a school that’s the right fit.

How Achieve Learning can help your child’s 11 Plus preparations

At Achieve Learning, we understand how important it is to support your children in achieving their academic goals. With over 18 years’ experience providing 11 Plus mock tests and one-to-one tuition, we’re perfectly placed to help your child prepare for their 11 Plus exams.

Our professional 11 Plus mock tests are designed to let your child experience the format and environment of the real exams, helping them overcome nerves and build confidence. Our experienced team carefully selects the tests, manages the day and offers valuable feedback – identifying areas of weakness and revision tips for helping your child improve.

In addition to our 11 Plus mock tests, we also offer individual consultancy services to help you and your child keep preparations on track. Our friendly team is always happy to provide guidance and support, so get in touch and book a mock test today.

11 Plus Mock Tests: A Parents’ Guide for 2024 Read More »

11 Plus Reading List: Top Books to Boost Your Child’s Vocabulary

As a parent, you naturally want to do everything you can to help your child prepare for their 11 Plus exams. Of course, there’s past papers, school tests, exercises and quizzes… but don’t underestimate the simple power of reading with your child.

Reading regularly is one of the most important things your child can do to prepare for the 11 Plus. Why? Well, it improves your child’s vocabulary, comprehension skills, spelling, reading speed and ability to make reasoned judgements and inferences. These are key skills for both English and Verbal Reasoning tests… two key components of many schools’ 11 Plus assessments.

In this article, we’ll delve into the benefits of reading for 11 Plus exam success as well as a list of some of the best children’s books (both classic and contemporary) that your child will love.

How does reading help with 11 Plus exams preparation?

Regardless of 11 Plus exam preparations, reading is an essential life skill. Year 6 is the perfect age to start introducing your child to a wide range of materials. As well as fictional books, they’re also old enough to start exploring child-friendly news websites, magazines, newspapers and blogs.

Reading doesn’t just improve your child’s vocabulary and comprehension skills. When they read a book, your child naturally learns to identify and understand the use of literary techniques like similes, metaphors, adjectives and adverbs (vital knowledge for Verbal Reasoning  and English exams).

They’ll also spot grammatical constructions within sentences (like simple, compound and complex sentences) more easily. Your child will get used to seeing sentences constructed in different ways – and start applying the same rules of grammar and spelling to their own creative writing.

Reading a wide range of fiction also helps children develop their inference skills, learning to make thoughtful assumptions backed up with evidence. This is a crucial skill for any comprehension task.

Reading really does help 11 Plus preparation in so many ways. In short, you can’t afford not to!

So, how can you encourage your child to read more?

5 tips to encourage regular reading with your child

As anyone with children will know, encouraging them to read regularly can be a challenge. Even if your child lovesreading, there are lots of other activities, homework, sports clubs and sleep overs competing for their time and attention.

Here are some top tips for making reading a regular part of your child’s routine.

  • Read together: Choose a book you can read together with your child. This will help you bond and encourage them to see reading as something fun that both children and adults enjoy.
  • Create a reading nook: Creating a special reading nook in your home will make your child feel super special. If it’s somewhere cosy they can chill-out and read comfortably (with plenty of pillows and blankets), they’ll feel calm and relaxed – and look forward to book time.
  • Set aside time for reading: If you don’t set aside time for reading, it’s easy to let it sink to the bottom of the pile. So, schedule a specific slot each day for your child to read. This will help everyone develop a routine and make reading a lifelong habit.
  • Encourage variety: Encourage your child to read a wide variety of materials, including news articles, blogs and websites. This will broaden their knowledge and expose them to diverse types of language and perspective. There’s a comprehensive list of child-friendly news sources from the Literary Trust.
  • Ask your child what they like: Making reading fun is one of the best ways of encouraging your child to read. If you exclusively opt for classic Victorian texts, chances are they might not resonate. Keep experimenting and asking your child what they enjoy (and what they don’t). If you go to the library together (letting your child lead the way), this will give your child a feeling of ownership over their reading.

11 Plus reading list: classic and contemporary books for your child

When it comes to 11 Plus exam preparation, it’s so important to read widely and regularly. This means mixing up the types of books your child reads – including authors from all over the world, distinctive styles, topics, modern writers, contemporary texts and more.

To help, here are 20 suggestions of the best children’s books to read when preparing for the 11 Plus.

Bear in mind, this isn’t an exhaustive list. It’s important to let your child lead their own reading with authors and series they enjoy. Use this list (of high-quality, challenging texts) as a starting point for inspiration… and see where your child’s literary adventures go.

  1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: A timeless classic that takes young readers on a journey through Middle Earth. If your child enjoys the book, they can move on to The Lord of the Rings as a next step.
  2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis: Another classic (part of the Narnia Chronicles) that’s perfect for improving inference skills and expanding vocabulary. A magical must-read for any 11 Plus candidates.
  3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling: A modern classic that’s captured the hearts of millions of children around the world. If your child enjoys it, they’ve also got the rest of the series ahead of them!
  4. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett: A beautiful story teaching children the importance of friendship and the power of nature. A great read for children who love the outdoors.
  5. Matilda by Roald Dahl: An excellent choice for improving vocabulary and comprehension – as well as a fun and engaging story that children love.
  6. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame: Another timeless classic, following the adventures of Mole, Rat, Toad and Badger exploring the English countryside. A beautifully written book teaching important life lessons on friendship, loyalty and the natural world.
  7. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster: A quirky and imaginative story that’s a perfect choice for children who enjoy fantasy stories.
  8. The Giver by Lois Lowry: A thought-provoking story (set in a dystopian, futuristic society) that will challenge and engage young readers.
  9. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White: A heart-warming story teaching children about the value of friendship and support through Wilbur and the eponymous Charlotte. A perennial favourite.
  10. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle: A wonderful choice for children who enjoy science fiction, featuring a search for a lost father and exploring evil planets…
  11. Holes by Louis Sachar: A compellingly written and fast-paced modern story set in a correctional boot camp in a Texas desert.
  12. The Secret Series by Enid Blyton: Enid Blyton is an enduring children’s writer for a reason. Her timeless and fun writing is just as compelling today, as it was in the 1950s.
  13. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: A funny and engaging story that challenges and entertains young readers. Just remember your towel…
  14. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman: A spell-binding trilogy beloved by children all over the world, telling the captivating story of Lyra and her “daemon”.
  15. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman: A captivating story about a young boy raised by ghosts in a cemetery. Perfect for children who enjoy spooky tales and suspenseful adventures.
  16. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer: This inspiring true story follows the journey of a young boy in Malawi who builds a windmill to help his village during a drought. It’s a terrific book for children interested in science, engineering and making a difference in the world.
  17. The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini: A popular four-part series that focuses on the adventures of a teenage boy and his dragon as they struggle to topple an evil King.
  18. Watership Down by Richard Adams: One of the best known animal adventures of all time – featuring a group of rabbits escaping impending disaster and searching for a new home.
  19. The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson: A brilliantly written tale featuring a boy struggling with OCD and anxiety – before he turns his heightened mindfulness into his superpower, to solve the case of a vanished child.
  20. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank: Written when Anne Frank was 13-15 years old, it’s one of the most impactful and educational books your child will come across. Essential reading for any young person.

Remember, this 11 Plus reading list is just a starting point. There are many more wonderful books that can help your child prepare for 11 Plus exams. The key is encouraging your child to read widely and enjoy the process. Reading should never feel like a chore or a task to complete. Instead, it should be a fun and engaging activity that lets your whole family explore new worlds and expand their horizons. 

Support your child’s 11 Plus preparation with Achieve Learning

For extra support and guidance with your child’s 11 Plus preparations, reach out to our team at Achieve Learning. With over 18 years’ experience, we offer dedicated one-to-one tutoring services helping your child build confidence and key skills. As well as personalised consultancy and revision plans, we offer mock exam practice to ensure they’re fully prepared for final exams.

To learn more about how Achieve Learning can support your child, book a free assessment today. Our team of experienced tutors are happy to answer any questions and determine the best approach for your child’s unique learning needs.

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The Henrietta Barnett School Eleven Plus Exams: A 2024 Entry Guide

If you’re considering applying for a place at the Henrietta Barnett School for your daughter, this guide is for you. 

The Henrietta Barnett School is a highly selective girls’ grammar school located in Hampstead Garden Suburb, North London. The school was founded in 1911 by the social reformer and philanthropist Dame Henrietta Barnett, who championed education, housing and women’s rights across London.

In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about the school and its application process, the catchment area, exam format – and how to help your daughter prepare.

Let’s get started.

A brief introduction to Henrietta Barnett School

The Henrietta Barnett School’s mission is to provide an outstanding education for its students, based on the principles of academic excellence, social responsibility, and personal development. Indeed, the school prides itself on fostering a diverse and inclusive community, welcoming girls from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures.

Its ethos focuses on fostering intellectual curiosity, creativity, and leadership skills, while also promoting social responsibility and a commitment to making a positive impact in the world. Despite its highly selective nature, the school maintains a warm and supportive atmosphere, with a strong focus on student well-being and pastoral care.

Henrietta Barnett School ranking

The Henrietta School ranking is impressive to say the least. The school is consistently classed as one of the top-performing schools in the country. Indeed, the Parent Power 2023 rankings named Henrietta Barnett as the top overall state school.

The school also has an excellent reputation for academic achievement, with over 89% of A-Level grades being A* to A and 97% being A* or B.  A remarkable 94% of GCSE grades were 8 and 9 for Summer 2022.

These are some of the best results in the UK, which also translates through to the school’s amazing successes with university offers. In fact, girls from Henrietta Barnett received 34 Oxbridge offers in January 2023, which accounts for 24% of the Year 13 group.

What’s the Henrietta Barnett catchment area?

The Henrietta Barnett School doesn’t have a catchment area. This means any child can take the entrance exam, no matter where they live. 

However, the school does give priority to candidates sitting the round two test (which we’ll cover in more detail below) who live within 3 miles of the school.

Further admissions policies and documents are available on the school’s website.

What are Henrietta Barnett School fees?

As Henrietta Barnett School is state funded, attending Henrietta Barnett School is completely free. The school does not charge any fees.

What’s the application process for Henrietta Barnett School?

The application process for Henrietta Barnett School (for September 2024 entry) opens on 28 April 2023. After this date, the school will publish details on their admissions pages.

There’s also an Open Day planned for 11 July 2023, which is a great way for parents and prospective students to get to know the school, its staff and facilities. 

As well as applying with Henrietta Barnett School itself, you’ll have to fill-in a “Common Application Form” with your Local Authority.

If you have any questions about the application process, email the school directly at: admissions@hbschool.org.uk

Are you also applying to schools in the South West Hertfordshire Consortium? If so, check out our Parent’s Guide for 2024 South West Herts Consortium 11+ Admissions.

Who sets the 11+ test for Henrietta Barnett School?

The first round of the Henrietta Barnett 11+ exam is set by GL Assessment.

GL Assessment is a leading provider of educational assessments in the UK. Their 11+ exams are particularly well-known and respected; used by many selective schools as part of their admissions process.

Henrietta Barnett’s first round of test papers (created by GL Assessment) typically cover a range of Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning and English multiple-choice assessments. The exams are designed to be challenging and are intended to identify the most academically capable students for admission to the school.

If your daughter performs well in this first round of testing, they’ll be invited back to sit another test. This second round (attended by around 300 candidates) is set by the school and includes an English and Maths exam. 

Where can I find Henrietta Barnett School test papers?

Henrietta Barnett doesn’t release any past papers.

Even so, you can find GL Assessment familiarisation booklets for the First Round entrance exam – with worked examples and practice materials.

Now, we know, preparing for an 11+ exam is a daunting prospect at the best of times. This is even more so when there’s no guarantee on the exact exam format your child will face.

Nonetheless, there are several ways you can use past papers to help your daughter prepare for the Henrietta Barnett test. Here are a few ideas:

  • Practice makes perfect: Encourage your child to practise with as many papers as possible, from different schools and exam boards. This will help them to become more familiar with the types of questions that might be asked and to develop their test-taking skills.
  • Analyse strengths and weaknesses: After your child has taken a test paper, go over the results with them to identify key strengths and weaknesses. This will help you to focus your preparation efforts on the areas your child needs the most help. 
  • Focus on core skills: When it comes to the Henrietta Barnett 11+ exam, the core skills your child will need are reading, writing, maths, verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Make sure your child is comfortable with these skills by practising regularly.
  • Manage time: All 11+ exams are timed, so it’s important for your child to be comfortable working under pressure. Encourage them to practise working against the clock to develop their time management skills.
  • Develop test-taking strategies: Practice papers are a great way to develop test-taking strategies such as eliminating obviously wrong answers, using context clues to understand unfamiliar words, and reading instructions carefully.

Overall, the key to using test papers effectively is to practise regularly and to identify areas where your child needs most help. By doing this, you can help your child feel confident and prepared for the Henrietta Barnett exam, no matter the exact format.

How can I help my child prepare for the Henrietta Barnett 11+ exam?

Given Henrietta Barnett’s high rankings and astounding academic performance, competition for spaces is unsurprisingly fierce. With this in mind, extensive preparation is required – giving your daughter plenty of encouragement and support throughout. 

The entrance exams are designed to be challenging, encompassing both Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning as well as Key Stage 2 Maths and English content. Advanced problem solving (for maths) and creative writing (for English) are particularly important skills for the second round of testing.

Work alongside your child to improve their speed and accuracy, and make sure they feel comfortable asking questions and talking to you (or professional tutors, like us at Achieve Learning!) if they need any help. 

Here are a few extra tips to keep in mind: 

  • Start early: Give your child plenty of time to practise and build their skills gradually. You can’t wind the clock back, but whenever you’re reading this post, know it’s never too early to get started!
  • Make the most of practice papers: We’ve already spoken about the importance of practice papers (using as many different types as you can find!), but they really are essential for helping you identify areas of improvement.
  • Focus on time management: The Henrietta Barnett 11+ exam is designed to test your child’s ability to work under pressure. Work together on speed and accuracy, so your daughter can complete the exam within the given time limit.
  • Develop problem-solving skills: The exam includes advanced problem-solving questions, so it’s important to help your child approach problems from different angles.
  • Read widely: As well as key Maths content, the exam tests your daughter’s comprehension and creative writing skills. So, encourage them to read and write widely, including books, newspapers, and online articles… anything they enjoy!

Find out how Achieve Learning can help your child excel, whatever exams they’re preparing for. We have over 18 years’ experience offering one-to-one support and academic assistance, with plenty of mock exams and practice papers to help your child prepare. 

Book a free assessment today to chat with one of our experienced tutors, and receive personalised support for your child.

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Queen Elizabeth’s School (QE Boys) Barnet : A 2025 11+ Entry Guide

Are you considering applying for a place at Queen Elizabeth’s School this year?

If so, you’ve come to the right place.

Queen Elizabeth’s School located in Barnet, Hertfordshire (also commonly known as QE Boys), is a highly respected and top-performing grammar school for boys. The school doesn’t have a catchment area and admits boys from all over London and beyond. With an intake of around 180 pupils each year, it’s highly sought-after – with fierce competition for places.

To help you and your child prepare, here’s everything you need to know about the application process, test format and tips for success.

Let’s begin.

A brief introduction to Queen Elizabeth’s School

Queen Elizabeth I granted the school a charter in 1573. Ever since, this leading boy’s grammar school has prided itself on its well-deserved reputation for academic excellence and pastoral care.

Queen Elizabeth School has always focused on producing confident, responsible and able young men. They foster resilience and independent thought that stays with students throughout their adult lives. 

As one of the highest performing schools in the UK, Queen Elizabeth’s has consistently outstanding Ofsted ratings. In fact, it’s listed as “outstanding” in all five of Ofsted’s judgement areas, and The Good Schools Guide even praised the school as “one of the most inspirational learning environments” they’d come across, offering an education “even private schools struggle to compete with”. What’s more, in the 2022 Sunday Times Parent Power rankings, it was listed as the top boys state school in the country (for the third time).

This excellence also translates into school’s exam results. In 2023, over 89% of A Levels were awarded an A grade. In the academic year 23/24 , 62 pupils were offered places at Oxford and Cambridge universities – exceeding the previous Queen Elizabeth record of 47 offers.

Does Queen Elizabeth’s School charge fees?

 No, Queen Elizabeth’s School is state funded. This means there aren’t any fees for a child to attend.

What’s the application process for Queen Elizabeth’s School?

To apply to Queen Elizabeth’s School, you must complete an online registration form.

 This “entrance test request form” will be available from Wednesday 1st May 2024. It registers your son to sit the school’s September entrance exams.

 The deadline for these requests will be Friday 12th July 2024 at midday.

The school also holds an Open Day in July, which provides an opportunity for prospective parents and students to visit the school, meet teachers and pupils, and see the facilities.

The entrance test itself (consisting of multiple choice papers in Maths and English) is scheduled for Wednesday 18th and Thursday 19th September 2024. More precise arrangements are sent by the school to anyone registered for the exam.

If your son is offered a place, you must also submit a “Common Application Form” (which means you’ve formally applied to the school) with your Local Authority.

If you have any questions about the admissions process, it’s best to email the school directly at: admissions@qebarnet.co.uk

Who sets the test for Queen Elizabeth’s School?

GL Assessment is responsible for developing the test materials and papers used by Queen Elizabeth’s School.

 As a prominent provider of educational assessments, they focus on evaluating a diverse set of skills, such as numerical ability, critical thinking, and problem-solving.  The QE Boy’s school have a particular focus on advance numerical problem solving, inference based comprehension and robust testing of spelling, punctuation and grammar skills.  

These tests are created to ensure fairness and impartiality, with no preferential treatment given to students based on their background or school affiliation.

Where can I find Queen Elizabeth’s School sample test papers?

While previous years’ papers aren’t released by Queen Elizabeth’s School, GL Assessment offers familiarisation papers for both Maths and English. These papers are available on their website.

The school also provides sample papers that might help your preparation, although they don’t follow the exact format of the exam.  For example, the actual format, number and difficulty of questions may differ from those contained in the sample papers.   

Because Queen Elizabeth’s doesn’t provide actual sample past papers, the best way to prepare is to familiarise your son with as many different styles of paper as possible.

Here are a few tips for making the most of practice exam papers:

  • Familiarise yourself with sample papers: While you don’t know what questions will come up, it’s a good idea to familiarise your child with as many different papers as possible, as early as possible. This will help them feel more comfortable and confident on the day.
  • Identify areas for improvement: Use the past papers to identify areas where your child needs extra support and guidance. Look at the questions they struggled with (analysing any mistakes together) and work on those areas.
  • Practice regularly: Make sure to practise consistently, using past papers and other materials. Regular practice will help build your child’s confidence and improve their performance.
  • Time management: Make sure your child practices managing their time effectively. They should learn how to allocate their time appropriately for each question and section of the exam.
  • Seek feedback: Consider getting feedback from a specialist tutor (like us at Achieve Learning!) on your child’s performance. This can help you identify further areas for improvement and give you a better understanding of how well your child is prepared for the exam.

What’s the format of the Queen Elizabeth’s School test?

The test for Queen Elizabeth’s School consists of two multiple-choice papers in English and Maths. These tests last roughly 50 minutes each, although the exact format and question types can vary from year to year. 

Both papers are taken in the same session, and scores are age-standardised and then ranked. The marks for Maths and English are combined to give an overall test result for each candidate. 

Overall, the test is designed to assess a student’s mathematical reasoning, problem-solving skills and overall English skills.

What’s the pass mark for the Queen Elizabeth’s School entrance paper?

In the past, any child who scored a minimum of 210 across both English and Maths was considered for a place at the school. For 2024, however, this increased to 220. 

It’s important to know that even meeting the minimum test requirement doesn’t automatically guarantee a place.

In 2022, there were over 3,000 candidates for just 180 places. The average scores for English and Maths were just over 100, with an average combined score of 200. For 2022, a minimum score of 234 was actually required to gain admission – showing how tough the competition really is.

You can find more admissions information (including further guidance on September 2024 entry) on the school’s website.

If you’re considering applying to schools in the South West Hertfordshire Consortium (as well as Queen Elizabeth’s School), check out our previous guide to 2024 admissions.

How can I help my child prepare for the Queen Elizabeth’s School 11+ exam?

We’ve already looked at tips on the best ways to use past papers, but there are plenty of other ways you can prepare for the Queen Elizabeth’s School 11+ exam.

There’s no doubt it’s a highly competitive test. Given the sheer number of applicants and high scores required, it’s important to focus on careful, consistent and targeted long term preparation.

Work on English and Maths Key Stage 2 content in the first instance, we would advise particularly for Maths that all the content (Year 6) has been mastered well before the actual exams. Your child should have a strong foundation in Maths, with a focus on problem solving and working with speed and accuracy. For English, focus on comprehension, spelling, punctuation, and grammar, as these are all tested in the exam. In fact, historically there have been two separate comprehensions in the test, so developing strong reading skills is vital.

  • For Maths, practice regularly and to focus on the areas where your child may need more support. This could include timed practice tests to help your child work on speed and accuracy, as well as providing opportunities for problem-solving. Regular practice with workbooks, online resources and games (to keep things fun!) will all help. In addition, encouraging your child to use real-life examples, diagrams and models (as well as breaking down problems into smaller, more manageable parts) will help identify key information and figure out complex problems.
  • For English, reading comprehension is fundamental. Encourage your child to read widely and practice summarising what they’ve read. Additionally, working on spelling, punctuation, and grammar through regular practice writing exercises (whether that’s journals, creative writing or school essays) will help your child develop the skills they need to succeed. There are so many online resources, quizzes and games available (to make practice a little more enjoyable) as well as worksheets tailored to specific age groups and skill levels.

Discover how Achieve Learning can help your child excel, no matter what exams you’re preparing for. We have over 18 years’ experience providing expert 1-1 guidance and support.

Take advantage of mock exams and practice papers and get in touch with our experienced tutors to discuss tailored support for your child. Book a free assessment today to learn more.

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South West Herts Consortium 11 Plus Exams: Parents’ Guide For 2024 School Admissions

Are you preparing your child to sit the South West Herts Consortium 11 Plus Exams in 2023?

If so, you’re not alone. Last year over 3500 children sat these exams and similar tests are used by selective schools up and down the country, to assess children’s academic ability and determine if they’re suitable for admission.

Preparing for any 11 Plus exam can be a daunting task. And as a parent there are so many questions. Should you hire a tutor? Invest in past papers and study materials? Or maybe you’re unsure how to support your child without adding too much pressure.

Don’t worry though. In this up to date Parents Guide for 2024 admissions, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the South West Hertfordshire 11 Plus exams. From understanding the exam format to registration dates, minimum pass marks and study strategies, we’ll guide you through the process – and help you support your child’s academic journey.

What are the South West Herts Consortium 11 Plus Exams?

The South West Hertfordshire Consortium is a group of partially selective schools in Hertfordshire. These schools use “11 Plus Exams” for children in the area, to assess their academic abilities. A high score in these exams can lead to admission in one of the participating schools. 

11 Plus exams look at academic potential and help decide whether a grammar school environment is right for your child.

Your child can only take the 11 Plus exam once per academic year. The tests usually take place in September (although the exact dates can vary from year to year). They happen when your child has just started Year 6 – their last year of primary school. 

Seven schools in South West Hertfordshire share these 11 Plus exams. This means your child only has to take one round of tests, rather than a separate exam at each school. 

Which schools make up the South West Herts Consortium? 

The schools in the South West Hertfordshire Consortium are “partially selective”. This means they are state-funded secondary schools that select a proportion of their intake each year by academic ability. 

Each school assesses students on sports, music, or academic aptitude – with some making entrance decisions based on one, two, or all three criteria. 

The seven schools in the South West Hertfordshire Consortium are: 

Music criteria only

Croxley Danes School

Academic and Music criteria

Parmiter’s School

Rickmansworth School

St Clement Danes School

Watford Grammar School for Boys

Watford Grammar School for Girls

Academic, Music and Sports criteria

Queens’ School

All these schools have a well-deserved excellent reputation for academic excellence. As you’ll already know – admissions are highly sought after, which means a high mark in the 11 Plus Exam is a crucial step to securing a place. 

Who administers the South West Herts Consortium test?

The South West Hertfordshire Consortium 11 Plus Exam is administered by the Consortium itself. 

You can find the registration page here, with up-to-date advice on deadlines, dates for testing and familiarisation papers.

Who sets the test?

GL Assessment sets the test and creates the papers. 

GL Assessment is a leading provider of educational assessments to schools across the UK and Ireland. They specialise in tests designed to assess a wide range of skills, including problem-solving, critical thinking, and numerical ability. 

These tests are also designed to be fair and unbiased, with no advantage given to students from any particular school or background.

For free familiarisation papers, visit the GL Assessment website. You’ll also find information on question types and approaches to answers, parent guidance and tips for preparation. 

What is the format of the South West Hertfordshire 11 Plus Exams?

The entrance exams for South West Hertfordshire Consortium schools consist of three different tests. 

These are:

Academic Ability: 9th September 2023

Music Aptitude: 4th September and 18-22nd September 2023

Sports Aptitude: 13th September 2023 (Queen’s School only)

You can choose which tests you want your child to take when you register. 

Here’s the format of each exam in more detail. 

Academic Ability 

The Academic exams consist of two multiple-choice papers: 

The Maths paper tests a range of mathematical skills, including arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data handling. It assesses your child’s knowledge of Key Stage 2 national curriculum objectives.

The Verbal Reasoning paper tests a range of verbal skills, including vocabulary, comprehension, and problem-solving. It assesses your child’s ability to spot patterns, manipulate verbal information and connect ideas. 

Both papers are timed (taking around just under an hour). Historically, the Maths test sets 50 questions in 50 minutes, while the Verbal Reasoning test sets 80 questions in 50 minutes. 

Despite this, the exact number of questions and timings can change from year to year – so it pays to be flexible and prepare your child with a wide range of past-papers.  For example, in 2022 the maths paper had 60 questions in 50 mins which caught a lot of parents off guard. 

Music Aptitude

If your child is applying for a music place, they’ll sit the Music Aptitude Test. 

This involves around 60 questions about topics such as rhythm, melody, pitch and texture. The test takes 45 minutes.

If your child performs well in this test, they’re invited back for an audition. During this performance, they can play their own choice of music – either vocally or on an instrument. Marks are awarded for musicality, accuracy and musical communication. 

Find more information on the SW Herts Schools website. 

Sports Aptitude

Queens’ School is the only school using the Sports Aptitude test. They state only children with “exceptional sports aptitude” who live within their catchment area should apply.

This test covers various aspects of physical fitness, with movement skills selected from the Council of European Physical Fitness. Elements include shuttle runs (testing speed and agility) as well as an endurance run (8 minutes) and things like standing broad jumps (for explosive strength) and the “flamingo test” (balance).

Find more information on the SW Herts Schools website.

Is there a minimum pass mark for the South West Hertfordshire Consortium?

There’s no minimum pass mark for the South West Hertfordshire Consortium 11 Plus Exam.

Instead, the Consortium uses a scoring system to rank students based on their relative performance each year. This means students who achieve the highest scores are more likely to secure a place at one of the schools. 

However, it’s important to note that admission to these schools is highly competitive, and a high score doesn’t automatically guarantee a place. Schools define their own cut-off scores each year, based on their admissions criteria and student performance.

To get an idea of the previous years cut-off scores, take a look at each school’s website.

For instance, Watford Boys Grammar School lists the lowest scores required for a place, broken down by area, exam and year. For the Watford area, the lowest admission score was 202 for the academic test and 35 for the music test. For the rest of the admission area, this rose to 215 for the academic test and 39 for the music test.

Remember, this doesn’t necessarily mean a similar mark would be good enough this year. So when you’re preparing for the exam – aim for the top!

What are the registration deadlines for 2023?

For 2023, online registration for the South West Hertfordshire Consortium 11 Plus Exam commences on Tuesday 11th April and closes on 16th June.

It’s important to register your child as early as possible to ensure they have a place in the exam. Late registration may be possible, but this is subject to confirmation by the Consortium.

You can find more key registration information on the South West Herts Schools website. 

How should I help my child prepare for the tests?

Preparing your child for the South West Hertfordshire Consortium 11 Plus Exam requires careful planning and dedication.

Because the Verbal Reasoning paper contains so many potential question types, familiarise your child with as many past papers and different questions as possible. This will improve their exam technique and help them stay calm on the day.

Focus on any weaknesses and help your child develop a strong vocabulary (for instance, going over synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, and compound words).

For the maths paper, much of the content comes from the Key Stage 2 syllabus. So make sure your child’s familiar with this, and work on any areas of weakness or uncertainty. You should aim to complete the Year 6 syllabus well before the exam, with plenty of time for past paper practice.

Lots of children struggle with time-management (for both the Maths and Verbal Reasoning papers), so this needs to be tackled well in advance of the exam. 

Here are a few more tips: 

Start early: It’s never too early to start preparing for the 11 Plus Exam. Even if your child is in Year 5, start familiarising them with the exam format and questions they may encounter.

Practice papers: Practice papers are an excellent way to help your child prepare for the exam. You can find a range of practice papers online.

Set a study schedule: Create a study schedule for your child that includes regular practice sessions and plenty of breaks. Stick to the schedule (as much as possible!) to help your child develop good study habits.

Encourage reading: Reading is an excellent way to improve your child’s verbal skills, which are tested in the VR paper. Encourage them to read widely and discuss what they’ve read with you.

Consider a tutor: If you feel your child would benefit from additional support, consider hiring a tutor who specialises in 11 Plus Exam preparation (like us, at Achieve Learning!). A experienced tutor can provide tailored support and guidance, focusing on areas where your child needs extra help.

At Achieve Learning we have been delivering expert guidance and support for the eleven plus exams since 2004 and have a range of proven resources to help your child prepare for the South West Hertfordshire 11 Plus Exams.

We offer mock exams and practice papers to help your child identify strengths and weaknesses. Our experienced tutors also provide tailored support to help your child excel in the exam. Book a free assessment today to find out more.


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