11+ Information Pack

Verbal Reasoning

Verbal Reasoning is probably considered the best way to test a child’s ability to learn or innate intelligence. Many private schools in the area use Verbal Reasoning tests as part of their entrance examinations. For entry into the Essex Grammar school system, Verbal Reasoning forms 50% of the entrance requirements.

There are approximately 50 question types that could be used in the Verbal Reasoning examination and we aim to teach all of these in our 1-2-1 sessions as well as through the Resource Pack and the S6 Hub.

Verbal Reasoning is a language based, problem-solving test and therefore relies on the child having a strong vocabulary. Children will be asked to match words, find links and relationships between words and numbers, construct words and look for similar or opposite meanings, as well as make simple calculations.

A huge selection of Verbal Reasoning questions are available on the S6 Hub.

Non-Verbal Reasoning

Non-Verbal Reasoning is another popular way to test a child’s problem solving skills. This test is not language based and is based on the use of pictures, symbols, patterns and shapes. There are three main types of Non-Verbal Reasoning questions but the wording of the questions will differ from school to school.

Similarities: This type will ask the child to find commonalities between pictures, patterns and symbols. They may also have to find the odd-one-out.

Sequences: Here students must find the pattern or link between a series of pictures or symbols. This may be to find the next part of a sequence or to complete a missing part of a pattern.

Analogies: This is usually a two-part question that asks children to discover the link between a pair of pictures and then apply that link to another pair. This is a test of logic.

There is a wide selection of Non-Verbal Reasoning questions on the S6 Hub.

Tips for the VR and NVR Paper

We would recommend children to practise all the possible question types for these papers to ensure they are familiar with the wording and requirements. It is best to work in a logical way, eliminating answers that are not possible. It is always wise to use a pencil to cross through or make notes when attempting to answer any VR question. Remember to look at all the options and not just go for the obvious answer – the correct answer may not be as simple as you think.

There are two types of formats these papers could be in: standard or multiple choice. Standard can be seen as a harder paper as the child has to think of the possible answers themselves whereas multiple choice provides the student with answers and asks them to eliminate based on logic. It is a good idea to practise both formats of papers thoroughly and use the standard format to offer a further challenge to your child. This can bolster confidence in their own ability to find answers even if they are to be taking the multiple choice exam.

We recommend that children should start preparing for the eleven plus exam about twelve to eighteen months before they are to be taking the paper. This ensures enough time to cover the amount of topics that they will learn in primary school.

The type of exams your child will take depends on the LEA of your area and individual school choices. Contact the school directly to find this out.

Practising at Home

Before taking the test

Make sure there are no distractions and your child has a clear working environment. They should have at least two sharpened pencils, a rubber and a ruler. A glass of water and some tissues are also a good idea.

During the test

Always time your child when they take a practise test. This helps them get used to the exam conditions they will face on the day and you can chart their progress as they become better at time management. Do not start timing until you have read the instructions and they have filled in the information on the front sheet. Most tests are 50 minutes in duration. If your child does not finish within the time, draw a circle around the question they are up to and allow them to finish, making a note of how long they have actually taken. This will enable them to attempt every question on the paper. Ensure that you mark the test and go through any wrong answers with your child, helping them to understand the process that gets them to the correct answer.

Multiple Choice Tests

In multiple choice tests, answers will usually be entered on provided answer sheets. Children should get used to carefully marking off their answers as these papers are frequently marked by computer. If they make a mistake, they must rub out their incorrect answer thoroughly and mark off the correct one.

Standard Form Tests

In standard format tests, answers are usually written into a space provided in the question booklet. Answers should be written clearly and all units written down. This is particularly important in the Mathematics test. Also in Mathematics, all workings out should be shown as often marks are awarded for the process of achieving an answer as well as the answer itself. These should be legible so that the examiner can read them but also so the child can quickly review their answers at the end of the test. In English tests it is important to write quotes with quotation marks and answer in full sentences, as students are marked for the quality of their writing as well as their reading.

11+ Advice

  • Listen carefully to all instructions at the beginning of the test. Do not assume you know everything you have to do.
  • Fill in the front cover and your personal details carefully.
  • Read all the instructions, check how much time you have, how many questions there are and how many marks they are worth.
  • Plan your time carefully, ensuring you leave enough time to read the paper and check through your answers at the end. You should also allow more time for questions that are worth a higher proportion of the marks.
  • If you can’t answer a question right away, leave it and move on. You can always return to it at the end and there may be questions later in the test that you find easy.
  • Read the question carefully and ensure you are answering the actual question that is in front of you, not one that was similar that you have already tried on a practise paper.
  • If you find yourself stuck on a question, take a second to think about it and work through the problem logically. If you still can’t answer it, move on.
  • Try to put an answer or some workings out, for every question, as you never know how the mark will be allocated.
  • Make sure your work is neat. You do not want to lose marks because the examiner cannot read your writing.
  • Take time to breathe and calm down if you feel yourself start to panic. Remember, everyone in the room is as nervous as you.
  • Check all your answers at the end of the paper.
  • In the Mathematics paper, always give the correct UNITS for a question, making sure you have made any conversion that is required.
  • Go to the toilet before the test begins

Do’s and Don’ts for Parents


  • Encourage your child to do their best.
  • Explain and go through all mistakes after a practise test.
  • Give your child praise when they do well or complete a test.
  • Give your child regular 5-10 minute breaks.
  • Try to keep distractions to a minimum


  • Don’t stay on the same subject everyday.
  • Don’t get angry or frustrated with your child if they don’t ‘get it’ immediately.
  • Don’t tell your child the answers, help them to work out a logical solution.
  • Don’t keep answers near the child – it’s too tempting!

Do’s and Don’ts for the Child


  • Try your best even if you don’t know the answer.
  • Always concentrate on your work.
  • Try to think of the test as a challenge and have fun with all the new topics you will be learning.
  • Ask for help when revising if you are not sure of something but in a practise test, try to work out the answer yourself.
  • Always check your work after a test.
  • Eat a proper breakfast before an exam.
  • Make sure you have everything you need: glasses, an inhaler, pencils, rubber, pencil sharpener, ruler etc.
  • Wear your school uniform to the exam – this will make the correct impression and put you in the right frame of mind to work hard.
  • Pay attention to exam rules – no talking‼
  • Leave enough time to arrive early. You do not want to be rushing before the test.


  • Don’t get stressed or frustrated if you can’t work out an answer, calm down and read each part of the question again carefully.
  • Don’t get over excited or over confident.
  • Don’t cheat during practise tests as it will not help you learn anything.
  • Don’t leave revision until the last minute.
  • Don’t eat sugary snacks before an exam; it will not help you concentrate.
  • Don’t get upset if the test doesn’t go as you would have liked. This probably means that the school was not right for you.
  • Don’t take the exam if you are ill, let the school know and they will usually make allowances for this.

Maths Topics

There are many different areas covered in the Mathematics exams and many are not taught in the primary school system. Here is a general list of topics covered.

The 4 rules (add, subtract, multiply and divide)

  • Fractions
  • Decimals
  • Money
  • Metric system
  • Time
  • Prime numbers
  • Prime factors
  • Highest common factor and lowest common multiple
  • Perimeter and Area ( Squares, Rectangles, Compound Shapes)
  • Averages
  • Distance, Speed and Time
  • Column graphs
  • Pie charts
  • Algebra
  • Angle calculations
  • Co-ordinates
  • Reflection and Rotation
  • Percentages
  • Simple ratio
  • Volume of cube and cuboids
  • Bearings
  • Simple probability
  • Nets of shapes
  • Sequences and number patterns
  • Marking and interpreting scales
  • Following rules and instructions in more unusual problem solving and investigational activities

English Topics

Below is a list compiled of the different topics in recent English entrance exams. Revision and practise of all these is recommended.

  • Ordering words to make sentences
  • Punctuate sentences with capital letters, full stops and question marks
  • Alphabetical order
  • Odd words out
  • Opposites
  • Rhyming words
  • Order sentences to make a story
  • Comprehensions – Read a passage and answer questions of fact, simple inferences, sometimes in sentences more typically multiple choice
  • Use of: – capital letters; full stops; question marks
  • Simple compound words
  • ‘Cloze’ exercise
  • Write a short story in within 20 to 30 minutes

Recommended English Reading List and Authors

  • Hurricane Summer – Robert Swindells
  • A Long Way Home – Ann Turnbull
  • Fireweed – Jill Paton Walsh
  • Scribbleboy – Phillip Ridley
  • Johnnie’s Blitz – Bernard Ashley
  • The Bolphin Crossing – Jill Paton Walsh
  • Tom’s Private War – Robert Leeson
  • Carrie’s War – Nina Bawden
  • The Endless Steppe – Esther Hautzig
  • Billy the Kid – Micahel Morpurgo
  • Stormchaser – Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
  • No Friend of Mine – Ann Turnbull
  • Red, White and Blue: Finding Out the Hard Way – Robert Leeson
  • Tom’s War Patrol – Robert Leeson
  • When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit – Judith Kerr
  • Beyond the Deepwoods – Paul Steward and Chris Riddell
  • Midnight Over Sanctaphrax – Paul Steward and Chris Riddell
  • Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
  • Snow Geese – William Fiennes
  • Mill on the floss – George Eliot

From the following authors, it is recommended that you go on sites such aswww.classicreader.com and select a page from any well known classics.

Your child should read the page and then answer questions that show their understanding of the text. Underline words on the page and get your child to think of a similar word or explain its meaning. Write out a short section, without capital letters or punctuation and get your child to correct it. This is invaluable practise for the 11+ exams.

  • Charlotte Bronte
  • HG Wells
  • H H Munro
  • Thomas Hardy
  • Anthony Trollope
  • Bronte Sisters
  • Charles Dickens
  • Charles Kingsley
  • Elizabeth Gaskell
  • George Eliot
  • Graham Greene
  • Herman Melville
  • R D Blackmore
  • R L Stevenson
  • Robert Graves
  • Rudyard Kipling
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Children sitting the 11+ exams should be reading forty-five minutes to an hour daily. This will improve their general comprehension of passages and extend their vocabulary. It is a good idea for students to make a list of words they do not know the meanings of and find the definition of them. They should write this down and then look up four or five similar words in a thesaurus. Finally, the student should write the original word in a sentence. This ensures they fully understand how to use that word and thus it becomes a part of their vocabulary.

Previous English Exam Extracts

  • 1997 The Road to Wigan Pier
  • 1999 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  • 2000 Jane Eyre
  • 2001 Kipps
  • 2002 Far from the madding crowd
  • 2003 Tobermory
  • 2004 Silas Marner
  • 2005 The Snow Geese
  • 2006 The Mill on The Floss
  • 2007 Tess of the d’Urbervilles
  • 2008 The Destructors
  • 2009 Longitude – Dava Sobel
  • 2010 Bleak House
  • 2011 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

It would be a good idea to make these part of your child’s reading list.

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