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What is the 11 Plus Exam?

The 11 Plus exam is an exam that children can take in the first month of their final academic year in primary school (year 6). It is not a compulsory exam. The 11 plus test is for children who want to gain admission to grammar schools in England- there are no grammar schools in Scotland and Wales. In Northern Ireland, the 11 Plus no longer exists in its original form. It was abolished in 2008 but now continues through 2 separate consortia.

In England, there are 164 grammar schools across the 34 boroughs. Each borough has its own set of regulations- this is not a nationally run exam.

Competition is fierce, and the test is also demanding. Generally, for every place available there are at least five applicants. (Of course, there will be regional and school variances in these statistics). The Redbridge 11 plus is incredibly competitive with only 34% of candidates achieving a passing score (104 or more) in 2022-23. Over 2,700 children took the exam but there are only 180 places available in Year 7 in Woodford Country High School for girls and in Ilford County High School for boys.

What does the 11 plus exam involve?

Girl Looking Up A Word for an 11 Plus Question

The exam will vary depending on which borough or consortium is administering the exam. Most of the tests are multiple-choice, where the answers are marked on a separate sheet, but again, this may vary depending on the borough or consortium, but generally, each paper is between 45 minutes to 1 hour.

How do I know which 11 plus exam my child will sit?

Your borough of residence and the school you are aiming for will determine which exam your child will take. There are several different exam boards used by different schools and boroughs around the country but the main two are CEM (run by The University of Durham) and GL (privately owned). These are the two main exam boards but there are others which are also used. Many schools and boroughs create and run their own exams.

It is worth noting that with most exam boards, the difficulty level will surpass topics learnt in Key Stage 2. This does, however, mean that, at the time of the exam, there will be some topics that your child may not have encountered before as they will be taught in year 6 in school. Therefore, often, the eleven plus can be roughly a year ahead of the school curriculum.

All 11 plus exam papers will cover a range of maths, English, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning in one form or another. There are however some key differences between the exam boards.

The exception is probably independent schools, where very often there will be some very challenging questions in the papers that will help the school determine scholarship potential.

How can I help my child at home?

Understand your child’s learning styles:

Understanding how your child learns is the first step in putting together a programme to prepare for the 11 plus exam. 

The 4 main learning styles are often known as VARK. 

Learning Styles Mind Map Graph

They are:

  1. Visual: A visual learner learns best through pictures, diagrams and general information they can see.
  2. Auditory: An auditory learner learns best using sound. They will prefer discussions and often, repeating something, hearing his/her own voice or repeating something back to a tutor helps
  3. Reading/writing learners: Reading/writing learners learn best by reading and writing information. They prefer to learn from textbooks, articles, and other written materials.
  4. Kinaesthetic: A kinaesthetic learner learns best by doing. They are hands-on.

It is important to note that most people are not pure visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or reading/writing learners. Instead, they use a combination of learning styles. However, most people have a predominant learning style that they prefer to use. For example, a child may be within a range of two learning styles with possibly, one dominant one.

Look at your child’s current level:

Understanding your child’s level is crucial. You need to make sure the work you give them matches their comprehension and skill levels. If the work is too easy, then you risk a lack of progression. Similarly, if the work is too challenging then you risk demotivating your child.

Have a plan:

Do not leave the learning to chance. Put together a plan that will bridge the gap from where you are to where you need to be.

11 Plus Exam Blank Weekly Timetable

Have a routine:

Do not underestimate the power of a routine. It will create calm and give stability thus avoiding tantrums and arguments.

Using information about learning styles will help you put together almost all of the above in a suitable way that works best for your child. It will require commitment, patience and a plan!

Working with your child is a good way of bonding- especially when they understand that you are able to teach them. They will (hopefully) think you are almost as amazing as their class teacher! Undoubtedly you will come across topics you are not sure about- this will mean you need to find the resource for that topic and then explain, practise and test.

The resources available for 11 plus are mostly test papers but there are also subject books available; these can be bought online or in any major bookstore.

How can Redbridge Tuition help?

Redbridge Tuition has a strong track record when it comes to the 11 Plus Exam. We are specialists in this field and our consistent success over the last 15 years speaks for itself. Our 2-year course is designed to help ease some of the angst that many parents face when thinking about the 11 plus.

The Redbridge Tuition 11 plus course is demanding but extremely rewarding. It is taught in a fun and interactive way to ensure that each child gains confidence and can achieve the best of their potential. All our sessions are in small groups and are teacher-led and topic-based. This ensures that all three major learning styles are covered.

At Redbridge Tuition, most of the material for this course is written in-house by our specialist tutors and writers who understand what is required to pass the Eleven Plus Exam.

Further resources on the 11 Plus

If you want further information about the 11 Plus, try checking out our blog and podcast pages.

These specific pages may also prove useful:

The Eleven Plus Exam: Secrets of Success

What is a Grammar School?


Comparison of the different 11 plus exam boards:

(please note this format is subject to change- please check with your local borough for any changes)

Exam Type Breakdown





Private schools



Mostly MCQ


1st stage: MCQ

2nd stage: school-specific 

Mostly Standard


Section by section Whole paper Whole paper Whole paper Whole paper

Separate Answer Sheet

Yes Yes for MCQ No Yes Mostly No

Creative writing

No No Yes 1st stage; no

2nd stage: school dependent



Usually 45 mins per paper Usually 45 mins per paper Usually 50 mins per paper Usually 50 mins per paper Usually 60 mins per paper

Eleven plus information for each borough can be found on the following pages:







Please note this is for information only. It is crucial that you look at your borough’s website for any recent changes.

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