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About the 11+ Common Entrance Exam

The 11+ Common Entrance exam is used by senior schools as part of the process for assessing candidates for entry into their schools. Pupils will sit exams in three subjects in either the Spring or the Autumn term during Year 6.

At 11+, pupils will sit exams in English, Maths and Science. Unlike the 13+ Common Entrance where there are different levels of exam according to candidates’ abilities or length of time spent studying the subject, there is only one level for 11+ Common Entrance.

Details of the Exam by Subject


Candidates will be tested on their reading and writing skills with two separate 11+ English exam papers.

  • Reading paper: Candidates are given a fiction or non-fiction passage and are required to answer several questions about it to test their comprehension

  • Writing paper: Candidates are asked to write an essay about one of a choice of titles to show that they can convey their ideas effectively. Topic areas: imaginative/story writing, factual/personal description, writing involving discussion/opinion, a book review and/or picture stimulus


A high level of competence is expected for the 11+ Maths exam. Your child will sit one exam that is 60 minutes long.

Candidates should understand:

  • Number - the manipulation of numbers in different forms, including: fractions, decimals, percentages, minus numbers and integers
  • Measure - the counting or measurement of different quantities and conversion between different units, such as perimeter, area, volume, length, density, speed and time
  • Algebra - the use of letters to represent numbers or quantities that can change (variables), so as to be able to express mathematical relationships between them. Your child will need to use expressions, equations and formulae
  • Shape and Space - the properties of shapes and some 3D objects, involving calculating area and volume, using co-ordinates and nets
  • Data - the use of sets of quantities to deduce mathematical expressions or to demonstrate them visually, such as statistics, probability, chance, averages and drawing graphs


Candidates will take one Science paper for the 11+ exam that combines questions from Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Pupils should have a good understanding of:

  • Energy, movement and forces
  • Material behaviour
  • Life and living things
  • The environment, Earth and the solar system

Further details of what is required for the 11+ exams for English, Maths and Science are available on the ISEB website.

How can you help?

Preparing for 11+ exams can seem quite daunting; however, there is no need to panic. You can make a real difference to your child’s likelihood of success by making sure that they know what they will be tested on and ensuring that they feel confident about answering the questions.


If you notice that your child is struggling with a particular topic, the best thing to do is to revisit that topic with a textbook. Hodder Education's textbooks are ideal, because they provide clear and detailed explanations along with questions so you can be sure that your child has understood what he or she has learned.

Textbooks for 11+ exam preparation are available for the following subjects:

  • English
  • Maths
  • Science

Revision Guides

A revision guide is ideal for checking that your child has learnt everything that’s required for the exam. Hodder Education's 11+ Revision Guides take your child through all the basic skills he or she needs for the exams. These revision guides also provide strategies, exercises and games to help your child progress, as well as ‘Top Tips’ to help with improving exam technique. 

Revision Guides are available as follows:

  • 11+ English Revision Guide
  • 11+ Maths Revision Guide
  • 11+ Science Revision Guides

Practice Exercises

As they say, practice makes perfect! Hodder Education has a range of resources to help pupils practice and prepare for the 11+ exams including workbooks and practice papers.

Workbooks and Practice Papers are available in the following subjects:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science

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