The new 11+ test – what you need to know

The new 11+ test – what you need to know


G L Assessment

Details about the new 11+ test have now been published.

As most of you will know, the test provider for 2018 has changed from CEM, who had run the Bucks 11+ test for several years, back to GL Assessment, who had run the test previously.

GL Assessment has now released details of the new test. Here’s what you need to know:

 The Test

  • The test will continue to be two papers, each 45 minutes long.
  • The 1st paper – Verbal Skills – will cover comprehension, technical English, and verbal reasoning.
  • The 2nd paper – Maths and non-verbal skills – will cover non-verbal reasoning, spatial reasoning, and maths.
  • All the questions will be multiple-choice, read from a question booklet and answered on a separate answer paper. They take place on the same day at your child’s school with a short gap in between.
  • Special arrangements for children with special educational needs can be made in advance in agreement with the school.
  • GL Assessment produces the new tests, while Buckinghamshire County Council administers the testing process

How it’s marked

  • Children are awarded marks for correct answers. They are not marked down for wrong answers. Answers are marked by a machine.
  • All the test questions will be equally rated (i.e. every correct answer will gain one raw mark).
  • However, the sections each have their own weighting.
    • Verbal skills: 50%
    • Maths: 25%
    • Non-verbal: 25%
  • The “qualifying score”, i.e. the score that a child needs in order to be eligible for Bucks grammar schools, is still 121.
  • The three sections are scored separately and are “age-standardised”. This means that a special formula is applied according to your child’s age. This is designed so that younger children in the year are not at a disadvantage.
  • The higher the score does not mean the higher the chance of getting into grammar school: “grammar schools do not use scores to rank order”.

Important dates

  • Practice date: Tuesday 11 September 2018, at school.
  • Test date: Thursday 13 September 2018, at school.
  • Sick on the day? Your child should be able to take the test at a later date.
  • Results: on 12 October 2018.
  • If you live in Bucks you don’t need to do anything about entering your child for the test, as it happens automatically – unless you ask your school not to.
  • If you are applying out of country, you can register from 1 May 2018 until 28 June. Have a look here to find out how to do it. Out of country children take the test at either one of the Buckinghamshire grammar schools or at another central location.​

Getting ready for the test

  • All children take two practice papers, which are about ten minutes shorter than the real one, a couple of days before the test. This shows them how the test will be administered so that they know what to expect. However, the practice test papers will not be marked or taken home from the school.
  • Before that, G L Assessment will make familiarisation materials available in the summer term of Year 5 on their website.
  • There are also free materials already available on the GL Assessment website.
  • GL Assessment gives the following advice on getting ready for the test:
    • ensure that they have experience of working quietly on their own, uninterrupted by noise or distractions;
    • ensure that they do any homework that is set;
    • help their children to read with understanding, for example by asking them what certain words mean and what is happening in the passage or book that they are reading;
    • encourage them to solve problems by themselves or to look up things for themselves.

So what’s different?

There are many similarities between the CEM test and the GL Assessment test. However, there are also some differences. Chiefly these are:

  • The first paper is entirely focussed on English and Verbal Reasoning, while the second paper is focussed on Maths and Non-Verbal reasoning and spatial skills. Previously, each paper was a mix of these
  • “Spatial skills” is now a separate category, but was likely to have been part of the non-verbal reasoning before.
  • The weightings have changed slightly. Maths used to weigh 30%, that has been reduced to 25%. Non-verbal skills has increased to 25% of the mark, previously it was 20%

I hope to have given a fairly comprehensive overview here, but head the Bucks website if you want to read more about the test and entry to grammar school, or feel free to call me on or email me at


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