History and FAQs


What do I do?

Is the first question I asked myself when my children approached the 11+.

Below, please find some of the relevant information that I wanted to know over 20 years ago for my first child and the questions I get asked every year from my parents!

11+ History

Regional Differences


General FAQs


BP Tutoring FAQs

Way way back when…

11+ History

The Butler Education Act was introduced in 1944. Education Minister R.A Butler is credited with reforming the schooling system and enabling all children from the age of 5 to 15 to be entitled to free education. 

Originally the act did not recommend the 11 plus test as the sole means of selecting children for grammar schools. Just as a supplement alongside school records and parental aspirations. However, this changed.

From 1944 three types of school formed a tripartite system: Grammar School, Secondary Modern School or Technical School. Pupils sat the 11 plus examination during their final year of primary school, if a ‘pass’ mark was achieved they were allocated to a Grammar School, if not either Secondary Modern or Technical. 

By 1976 the individual Local Education Authorities (LEA) were given responsibility to adapt their schools. Some kept Grammar Schools, whereas others converted to Private Grammar Schools or Comprehensive. The 11 plus, although devised to be similar to an Intelligence Quotient test (IQ) now included testing on some curricular subjects – Mathematics and English –  too. 

Presently (2020) there are 164 Grammar Schools in England. 

regional differences

Local Educational Authorities (LEA) Approach To The 11+

Many Primary schools in an LEA sit the same 11+ examination and have an opt-out approach. (Buckinghamshire) This means all children attending a Buckinghamshire Primary School are automatically enrolled to sit the11 plus on the same day at the school they attend.

However, in other areas, schools have an opt-in system. For example: Berkshire. Parents register their child through an online portal and are given a date to attend a Berkshire school to sit their 11+ test. With the ‘opt-in’ system some schools, such as Berkshire, form a Consortium (a group of schools).

The consortium will administer the same examination, however an individual school in the same county may decide to choose a different selective examination.

For the website of the Slough Consortium see here:

There are two main examination Boards:

GL Assessment (GL) 

Includes: Comprehension, Spelling, Punctuation, Grammar, Verbal Reasoning, Mathematics, Non-verbal Reasoning and Spatial Awareness

CEM Centre of Evaluation and Monitoring Durham University (CEM) 

Comprehension, Cloze text, Left over Words, Antonyms, Synonyms, Mathematics and Non-verbal Reasoning

Your question should be here

General FAQs

Which exam is used by different counties in the United Kingdom? 

GL Assessment: Buckinghamshire, Dorset, Kent, Lancashire & Cumbria, Lincolnshire, Medway, Northern Ireland.

CEM: Berkshire, Bexley, Birmingham, Gloucestershire, Shropshire, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wolverhampton.

GL and CEM: Devon, Essex, Hertfordshire, Trafford, Wiltshire, Wirral, Yorkshire.

Note: Although schools are in the same county they may choose to use different examinations boards.


What is in the GL Examination?

GL Assessment was originally founded by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER). The two organisations are now separate.

GL Assessment 11+ is used in a number of areas. An example of the Kent test familiarisation booklet can be found online: 

This test assesses a wider range of skills than the CEM Paper. It will also use some of the older style Verbal Reasoning (VR) type questions from the pre 2014 Test – such as codes – combined with new VR type questions.


What is in the GL ASSESSMENT?

Paper One: 45 – 50 minutes working time (50% weighting)

This Paper combines a range of English skills

1) ENGLISH (25% weighting):  

  • Comprehension
  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Punctuation


2) VERBAL REASONING (25% weighting):

Questions that test verbal skills such as vocabulary knowledge through:  Antonyms, synonyms, homonyms, missing letters or words and also coded problem solving. 

For example: which letter ends the first word and begins the second word in both sets of brackets?

F I R S   (    )  R A U M A          A  L  E  R    (    )  A  U  T  

Answer  (T)


Paper Two: 45 – 50  minutes working time (50% weighting)

This paper includes Maths and Non-verbal Reasoning/Spatial Awareness


1) MATHS (25% weighting)

A vast range of high-level maths questions.  These include:

  • Problem solving with: different units of measurement, conversion, money, fractions, percentages, decimals, ratio, angles and area.
  • Understanding place value plus confident use of four operations and quick strategies to solve calculations.
  • Accurate reading of train or bus timetables, tables of information, International time comparisons and all types of graphs.
  • Numbers: squared, cubed, square root, prime, prime factors, multiples, factors.
  • Vocabulary Knowledge: integers, sum of, intersection, circumference, adjacent, congruent, mean, mode, range, median, distribution, profit, parallel, perpendicular, bisect.


2) NON-VERBAL REASONING (25% weighting): 

A wider range of Non-verbal Reasoning/Spatial Awareness type questions are incorporated, than in the CEM 11+ Paper. 

  • Types of NVR Question: Matrices, Sequences, Analogies, Odd One Out and also shapes with matching letter codes.
  • SPATIAL AWARENESS: These questions are designed to test pupils’ ability to visualise and mentally create, separate or rotate 2D or 3D shapes.  
    • Example: The 2D cube net folded to create a 3D cube (Dice).


What is in the CEM 11+ Examination?

Two Papers 45 – 50 minutes working time. On each paper there will be a combination of English/VR Maths and one type of NVR or Spatial Awareness question.


ENGLISH/VR (50% Weighting) 

  • Comprehension 
  • Cloze text/missing words
  • Left over Word
  • Word Choice
  • Opposite Words


MATHS (30% weighting)

 There will be a combination of long maths questions and short maths questions.

Topics covered will be identical to the GL Maths paper.

  • Problem solving with: different units of measurement, conversion, money, fractions, percentages, decimals, ratio, angles and area.
  • Understanding place value plus confident use of four operations and quick strategies to solve calculations.
  • Accurate reading of train or bus timetables, tables of information, International time comparisons and all types of graphs.
  • Numbers: squared, cubed, square root, prime, prime factors, multiples, factors.
  • Vocabulary Knowledge: integers, sum of, intersection, circumference, adjacent, congruent, mean, mode, range, median, distribution, profit, parallel, perpendicular, bisect.


NON-VERBAL REASONING (20% weighting): 

Only one type of NVR or Spatial Awareness question on each paper. (About 30 questions)

  • Most common types of NVR Question: Matrices and Sequences 
  • Spatial Awareness.  Mostly 3D for example: Combining Shapes

When is the 11+?

Children will sit their 11+ in the September they enter Year 6 of Primary School. Results will be made available during October.

Is there prior school preparation?

This will depend on your school.

Prior to sitting the examination children will have a shortened Practice Familiarisation paper. This will either be taken at school a few days before the actual 11+ or sent digitally to parents, depending on circumstances.

What happens on the day of the 11+?

On the 11 + day, children will sit two papers with a 15 minute gap in between. Instructions are delivered through a CD, with examples for each type of question. Although in total each examination is of one-hour duration. Actual working time for the children is between 45 and 50 minutes.


How much additional time, on top of the weekly tutoring, should my child spend on 11+ preparation?

Between one to two hours, however prior to taking the exam this may increase. 

Mock Tests and holiday tutoring are optional extras. However, this question is variable as some children work proactively with less home activities, others prefer more. A child who is overloaded with work, can become dejected. Some schools give an abundance of homework, whilst other schools far less. I usually advise parents to find the balance that suits their daughter or son. 


What age should my child start 11+ tuition?

Year 4 or Year 5. It depends on the individual child. A year of specific 11+ education is adequate from Year 5 for pupils who find learning comes easily.

If there are any areas of weakness, for example, mathematics, it may be more beneficial to have one to one tutoring in that subject prior to beginning 11+ tuition.

Will I know whether or not the 11+ is the right route for my child?

Yes, test results from school such as standardised CATs and end of year examinations, combined with teacher feedback, should give a clear indicator.

Which group is your child in for English and Maths in the class? Are they needing extra support for one of these subjects?

Initial assessment tests offer an inkling of future academia. This works for pupils who are academic and are highly likely to achieve a high score. Whereas other, equally able pupils may find this process stressful, leading to an unreliable result that deflates their confidence. So follow this route with caution.

Decide what is best for your son or daughter. Informal assessment, through observation and question setting initially, is often more reliable and puts less pressure on a child.

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BP Tutoring FAQs

Do you teach GL or CEM?

I tutor pupils to sit their GL 11+ examination.  There is a huge overlap in the Mathematical knowledge, Verbal Reasoning skills, Non-verbal Reasoning and Spatial awareness needed for both GL and CEM examination boards.  The main differences are:

  •   The layout of the examination booklets and multiple choice answer sheets. 
  •   Verbal Reasoning type questions.

When will you know if my child is likely to pass?

Within five sessions of working with a pupil, you have an overall picture of how  quickly they pick up new concepts; areas where focus is needed and also their likelihood of reaching the required 11+ mark.  Rarely does this differ to the feedback and test results from school.


How often will they be assessed and what feedback will we receive?

Informal assessment will occur as each new topic is taught. For example: If the Verbal Reasoning Codes have been a focus for two weeks during tutoring and home activities. 

Mock Tests with full assessment will be offered termly.


Will we need to provide additional learning materials?

Yes a few things. 

  • An A4 pad and plastic folder
  • Index box for new vocabulary
  •  Electronic dictionary or paper version and thesaurus
  •  Pencil case with: HB pencils and erasers; coloured pencils or gel pens;  highlighters and a pen to write with.
  •  Recommended books.


How many children are in each class/group?

Online lessons will be offered in groups of 6 to 9 pupils.


Is there the option for 1:1 tutoring?

Yes, in certain circumstances or where there are special requirements.


What can I do to help my child prepare for the 11+ Test before he or she begins tuition?

Many parents are eager to purchase lots of material and make an early start on their child’s 11+ . However, success in the 11+ examination relates to carefully structured  preparation, knowledge, understanding and personal motivation. Wading through a mass of published materials and tests too soon can have the adverse effect on our youngsters. So here are some ideas you can work on at home that will enhance ability as well as create firm foundations for future academic success beyond the 11+ years.




1)  Choose exciting vocabulary in discussions at home. Children will soon absorb new words  and  use them in the right context if they hear them often enough.  Let’s switch the word ‘great’ for ‘stupendous’.

“Did you have a great day?”

“Did you have a stupendous day?”


Abolish the words ‘big’ and ‘large’ from your vocabulary – replace with these: colossal, huge, enormous, vast, immense, massive, gigantic


2) Draw or make a synonym spider with 8 wiggly legs.  Write the word ‘great’ on the spider’s head. Then find eight synonyms for ‘great’, putting one at the end of each spider leg!  You have ‘stupendous’ already.


3)  Play Charades with verbs and adverbs.

Think of four interesting ways you can walk.

For example: saunter, stride, creeping , march.  Then select four adverbs that could match.

For example: rigidly, surreptitiously, rapidly, slowly.

Family members silently act their charade for others to guess. E.g. creeping surreptitiously.

Alternatively – sketch the action for others to guess!

The level of vocabulary depends on the child’s age, yet never underestimate how important it is to drip feed new words.


4)  Share reading. However old your child is – especially if an independent reader – spend time reading to them and sharing the joy of many genres of literature. This improves understanding as well as vocabulary. It is super for comprehension skills too, as you discuss the text together.



Do practical activities!

1)  Go to a train station, read a timetable and plan a short trip together.

2)  Plan a holiday for your family. What flight times are available? Which airline offers the best deal? How long is the flight? How much luggage allowance do you have? (If 23Kg, fill a suitcase – with anything perhaps books – and weigh it).  What size of hand luggage can you take? (Child can measure a range of bags)  What is the limit on liquids in hand luggage? 100ml. Child reads labels to see which shampoo, suntan and so on…fits that category.

Which holiday is the best priced?  What is the total cost for 2 adults and 3 children for one week? For two weeks? When is the cheapest time of the year to go? How does the temperature vary? Find the difference in temperature from January to July.

3)  Research cost of a family pass at Legoland. Is it better value to buy a family pass than to visit 8 times?

4)  Bake. Change the recipe from making 12 cakes to 6, 18, or 15 cakes.

5)  Use money to buy fruit at the supermarket. How much is it per Kg? So how much is 500g? Weigh the fruit at the supermarket. Pay using cash. Is the change correct? Later at home write a shopping trip into a worded problem. E.g. Luca went to the supermarket and bought some apples. The apples cost £1.30 per Kg. How much did it cost Luca to buy 3.5Kg?  How much change did Luca receive from a £5 note?


Note on Digital Learning:   

Whilst digital learning is something we had to address rapidly this year, I have seen how it can be effectively used to enhance education. 

Consistency is vital for the continued progression of a child’s educational development. 

Given the current uncertainty around Covid, I believe this is best achieved through online teaching, which can continue even as further restrictions on face-to-face gatherings are imposed. We are continually reviewing and improving the digital experience to ensure pupils have an outstanding experience. 

Will my child pass the 11+? 

Many parents want to understand the likelihood of their child passing the 11+ prior to beginning courses, and quite rightly so.  Some of my parents decide to put their children through my courses in the knowledge their child may not pass the 11+ but will make academic progress. Others don’t want to put their child in a situation that could end up knocking their confidence. 

After 20 years within the education system working both with high achievers and those who need extra support, I believe I have the experience to provide an assessment on a child’s raw potential to achieve the required mark in their 11+ examination. 

I provide assessments for any parent who would like to understand the likelihood of their child passing the 11+ before committing time, energy and money into the courses.  Assessments include Mathematic, English and NVR and an informal chat to ensure your child is comfortable and doesn’t feel under pressure. We will then have a follow-up call, which will include an overview of their strengths, challenges and what would be valuable for them to focus on. Click below to learn more.


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Becky’s calm and supportive manner, and her quick ability to recognise the individual learning style of every child she works with make for a winning combination. Her honest and detailed feedback mean you always know exactly how to best support your child through the 11+ process, whilst going a long way to ease the worries of even the most anxious parent. We cannot thank her enough for all the support and guidance she has shown our family of three very different young boys. She always knows just how to get the best out of each of them.

Sara - Parent

Thank you for the continuous support this term. Naomi enjoys the virtual sessions a lot.
Ellen - Parent


Once again, we can't thank you enough for the excellent remote tutoring over the past few months.
Colin and Jen - Parents

It was great fun and I want to carry on!
Lois - Student

I really appreciate the additional attention you give to each child to help them and it is truly a talent to make summer holiday tuition so enjoyable!
Karen - Student (11+ Summer Camp)

D feels so much more confident and is able to transfer the skills he learnt with you to other contexts – including school! He has just received a special award for commitment and improving his attitude to learning.
Tanya - Parent

Dear Becky… I have had a brilliant two years with you. Thank you for being kind and for never shouting.
Romain - Student

I have a place at William Borlase and I am very excited. Thank you for helping me get there.

Andrew  - Student

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