What are Grammar School selection tests?
The selection process is designed to select the brightest children in the area, i.e. those children who will benefit from the highly academic education provided by Grammar Schools. Although the selection tests are the most important part of the selection process other factors may be taken into consideration, e.g. -
The selection tests will include one or more of the following - Verbal Reasoning,
Non-Verbal Reasoning, Mathematics and English. The content and number of
selection tests a child will take varies considerably across the country.
For example, in some areas children are tested on Verbal Reasoning, Mathematics
and English, whereas in others children are only tested in Verbal Reasoning.
- A report on the child from his/her primary school
- Whether there are siblings already at the school
- Special aptitudes in which the school may specialise, e.g. musical ability
Why 11+ and 12+ ?
In most areas of the country children transfer to secondary education at the end of Year 6, i.e. the year in which children reach the age of eleven. '11+' selection tests select children for an appropriate post-eleven education. In some areas of the country children transfer to secondary school at the end of Year 7, hence the '12+'. In addition, some Grammar Schools allow a small number of children to take a 13+ test to give children a 'second chance'.
What is the difference between 11+ and 12+ selection tests?
Although 12+ selection tests are a little more difficult there is generally little difference in style or content. The Secondary Selection Portfolio is suitable for both the 11+ and 12+. The test papers cover the skills required for the 11+ and are sufficiently difficult to stretch older children.
Who administers the tests?
Now that many Grammar Schools are grant-maintained they often administer the process
themselves and children may have to take a different selection test for
How many selection tests will a child have to take?
Usually one to four tests taken over a period of several weeks or months.
When are the selection tests taken?
This also varies across the country. In most areas testing takes place either during the Autumn Term or early in the Spring Term.
How can parents get information for their area?
Many parents are confused about the selection process. For accurate information they should contact -
What do parents need to know?
The essential information that parents need is -
- What tests will our child have to take?
- When do the tests take place?
- How do we enter our child for the selection process?
Will practice tests increase a child's chance of being selected for Grammar School?
Many children have had little experience of the kind of test they will have to take. Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning tests, in particular, are often a new experience for children. Practice tests will -
It is not quite a case of 'practice makes perfect' but, as in most areas of life, practice will increase a child's performance. Much research was carried out in the 50's and 60's on the effect of practice on Verbal Reasoning test scores and the results of this research, not surprisingly, suggested that if children were given a number of practice tests prior to a selection test their performance would be enhanced. In our experience, feedback from parents suggests that children can improve by as much as 15 percentage points with practice.
- Increase a child's confidence
- Give experience on the range of question types
- Increase a child's speed so that as many questions as possible can be answered in the time available
Will practice tests increase a child's IQ?
No, practice tests will only help to ensure that a child will perform at his or her best.
How many practice tests will a child need?
The gain in performance as a result of practice tests is usually greatest over the first five or six tests. However, further practice increases a child's confidence and provides wider experience of the type of questions that may crop up on selection tests.
What is the pass mark for a Grammar School place?
The pass mark depends on the number of Grammar School places available in the area and the number of children taking the test. It can vary from a standard score of around 112 to a score of 124. Typically, only 10 to 20% of those children taking the test will be selected.
My child has to score 118 to get a Grammar School place. What does this mean?
This is called a 'Standard Score' and is calculated from the score the child gets on the test together with the child's age. This ensures that there is no advantage or disadvantage in how old the child is when taking the test. Age is allowed for when converting the 'Raw Score' to a 'Standard Score'. Parents may be told that the pass mark is, for example, 240. This means that the Standard Scores on two tests are added together.
How well should a child score on practice tests to get a Grammar School place?
Clearly, as the pass mark varies from area to area it would be misleading to try to answer this question precisely. However, our experience suggests that children who score consistently above 80% on the Secondary Selection Portfolio are likely to be selected.
What are multiple-choice tests?
Many Grammar school selection tests are now designed to facilitate computer marking. A separate answer sheet is provided and the child is instructed to place a mark in a box to indicate which multiple-choice answer they have selected. It is simply a different way of recording an answer and does not affect the skills required to answer the question.
Are Grammar School selection practice tests suitable for entrance examinations for independent schools?
Although not designed for this purpose many parents have found the practice tests useful experience for their children prior to taking independent school entrance examinations.