There is a good deal of variation in the types and format of exam papers used at 11 plus. The majority of state-selective grammar schools use reasoning tests, with two or three from Verbal, Non-Verbal and Numerical Reasoning. Fee-paying sch0ools typically use papers in English and Maths, with very occasional extras in Science and (very occasionally) languages. It should be noted that there is huge variation across the sector, and that complexity in type or format of exams used by a school is not a guide to performance of that school. For example, a very-highly performing girl’s school in Wimbledon only uses Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning papers.
The papers used at 11 plus fall into two camps, with schools either using their own papers or those provided for use at 11 plus by the Independent Schools Examination Board (ISEB). Schools using their own papers generally share these on their website, which is fair given that they are expecting students to sit an exam that is different to any other test. Some don’t share past papers openly, but will give out a syllabus. A small number share absolutely nothing. As a rough estimate, these papers are around a Level 5 on the National Curriculum, although it should be noted that this can vary (both ways) considerably. These papers are normally written in-house by teachers at the school. Occasionally schools will band together to share papers, as with the North London Girls School Consortium. What isn’t shared is how the marks for these papers are interpreted, and this is where it becomes somewhere between difficult and impossible to know what the expected standard is.
The ISEB 11 plus papers are easier to interpret. They have a very standard format, with consistency between years, and publish suggested markschemes. Do be aware that this markscheme is still open to interpretation by the schools as they wish, and a paper achieving a score of 60% at one school could easily be awarded 70% at a different school. The expected standard on the ISEB papers is at a Level 5 on the National Curriculum, which represents the higher level of achievement at primary level.
We provide free sets of 11 Plus Exam papers, which you can access by visiting this link on our website: