For many children, sitting the 11+ exam and getting into grammar school is their best option for secondary education. That’s because grammar schools offer good-quality teaching and produce consistently high exam results.

September 2023 may seem like a long way off, but the process of registering with grammar schools for the 2022 11+ exams begins this month!

So let’s look at what you need to know before starting that all-important application.

How are pupils selected for grammar schools?

Pupils are selected for entry into Year 7 by sitting the 11 plus (or 11+), an academic exam. Grammar schools are state-funded – they don’t charge fees – so there is a LOT of competition for places.

Why should I send my child to grammar school?

First and foremost, grammar schools provide a high-quality education. All pupils are selected for their academic ability, so the teachers can educate them more effectively and challenge them further. In theory, this means they’ll achieve better results than pupils in other state schools. Indeed, grammar schools consistently appear near the top of national school league tables.

Another benefit is cost: as we mentioned above, grammar schools don’t charge fees. Not every parent can afford to send their child to independent school but, in theory, any highly academic pupil who performs well in the 11+ should be eligible for a place at their local grammar school.

What is the 11 plus Exam?

The 11+ is a selective entrance exam that is usually based on four skill sets: English, maths, verbal reasoning, and non-verbal reasoning. Your child may have to sit two or three separate tests as part of their 11+ exam. The content and format of the exams varies between different regions and different exam boards.

What are the different 11 plus exam boards?

There are two primary exam boards for the 11+:

  1. The CEM (Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring at Durham University)
  2. GL (Granada Learning) Assessment (previously known as the NFER)

Both boards place a strong emphasis on core skills in English (including spelling, punctuation, grammar, comprehension, and vocabulary) and maths (including arithmetic skills, problem-solving, and data manipulation). They also include non-verbal reasoning tests that assess pattern-spotting, problem solving, and logical reasoning.

Schools in most regions will use either the GL or CEM exclusively, whereas schools in some regions use a mixture of both. It’s best to check with your chosen school to see which exam board administers their 11+ exams.

Are there any other selection criteria for grammar schools?

Every grammar school has its own admissions criteria, and these can usually be found on the individual school’s website.

In terms of demographics, grammar schools can be single-sex or co-educational, and many single-sex schools move to co-educational provision at sixth form.

Geography is a factor too – most grammar schools give preference to children who live in their catchment area. High scores on the 11+ may not secure your child a place if you live some distance outside their locality. So, it’s worth checking the catchment area for your preferred grammar school before you start to apply for places. You can check the catchment areas for your local grammar schools with the schools themselves, or on the Good Schools Guide.

When should we apply for a grammar school place?

The answer is…sooner than you think. The process for securing a grammar school place in September 2023 begins in April 2022 – that’s now – so better get cracking!

To help you out, here are the key dates and events in the grammar school application process. The exact dates will vary between schools and regions, so confirm important dates and deadlines with your chosen school.

April-May 2022: Registration for most grammar schools opens

June or July 2022: Registration closes

September 2022: The 11+ exam will occur during the first two weeks of September 2022.

October 2022: Most grammar schools post their 11+ results in mid-October.

1st March 2023 – National Offer Day, where secondary school allocations for all students, including grammar school applicants, will be confirmed.

September 2023: Grammar schools begin their new Year 7 intake.

How can I help my child prepare for the 11 plus exam?

Quite understandably, children can find the whole process quite nerve-wracking. Many parents choose to invest in private tuition to help their child prepare for the 11+ exam. A tutor can help your child develop their and confidence in subjects and topics that they find challenging. What’s more, many tutors have a great deal of experience in preparing students for the 11+ exam. They can offer guidance on the different exam boards used in your locality, including what to expect on exam day. That’s especially important if your child has never taken an exam before.

George Alexander Tuition provides 1-1 maths and science tuition to help students prepare for the 11+ exam. We are familiar with the requirements of the CEM and GL exam boards. We also have a proven track record of helping students secure a place at their dream school. If you’d like to book a maths tutor for your child, contact us today. You can reach us at, or make an enquiry via our website. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for some handy maths tutorials and to see some of our lessons in action. Our Instagram account also has tips for parents and more information about our services.



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