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Relocating to the UK and sitting the 11 Plus (11+) exams 

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

If you are relocating to the UK and looking to send your child to a school that requires an 11+ entrance exam, then this article is for you. 

Moving to the UK and navigating the complicated UK schooling system can be overwhelming for parents, especially those wanting to send their child to an independent or grammar school. 

Whilst the 11+ is not used in every school across the country, it is prevalent in areas with a high concentration of grammar schools, including Kent, Essex, Buckinghamshire, Lincolnshire and London.

This guide provides clear and helpful information about the UK school system and how to register your child for the 11+ exam. This will include information about how and when to apply, what the exam involves, and which schools use the 11+ as part of their admissions process.

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Understanding the UK Education System at 11 Plus (11+)

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In the UK, most children begin formal education at four, starting in Reception. Secondary education starts from Year 7, when children are 11, and continues until Year 13. 

The UK has a diverse education system with three main types of secondary schools: non-selective state-funded schools, selective grammar schools and independent (sometimes referred to as private) schools. 

Grammar schools are state-funded, so you do not have to pay a fee to attend; however, they often have highly competitive entrance exams called the 11+. Some selective independent (fee-paying) schools also use the 11+ as their entrance exam. 

In the UK, schools are required to teach a curriculum created by the government called the National Curriculum. The 11+ exam is usually made up of questions in line with the Key Stage 2 National Curriculum, which is content taught to children in UK schools aged 7 to 11. 

What is the 11 Plus (11+) exam?

The 11+ exam is a selective entrance test, usually taken by a child in September of Year 6, used by grammar schools and many independent schools across the country. 

The 11+ exam can assess a child’s academic ability across four subjects. Different authorities choose which subjects to include, so the exact structure of your child’s 11+ exam will depend on the area you live in. These four subjects are:

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  • English: This section tests your child’s comprehension, spelling, punctuation, grammar and creative writing skills.
  • Maths: This section usually covers the main aspects of the Key Stage 2 curriculum, including arithmetic, data handling, geometry, and problem-solving.
  • Non-verbal reasoning: This section assesses a child’s ability to understand, interpret and solve problems using shapes and patterns. It often includes questions about matching shape patterns and solving puzzles.
  • Verbal reasoning: This section tests a child’s ability to reason and solve problems using language. It often includes questions about letter and number sequences, analogies, and logical problem-solving.

How to Prepare for the 11 Plus (11+) Exam whilst Relocating

1. Research the Area

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Before relocating to the UK, you should take some time to plan for the 11+. You should begin by identifying which type of school you would like to send your child to and researching the schools in the area you are moving to. 

The 11+ exam is not used everywhere in the UK, so familiarising yourself with the admissions process for the schools you are interested in is essential. 

On our Examberry website, we have a wide range of other articles where you can find key details and exam format information about the schools or areas you are interested in. This is a great place to start if you want to learn more about the area you are moving to. 

2. Plan your Timeline

Establishing a solid timeline is vital when moving and applying to multiple schools. Many grammar and independent schools have different admissions processes, with varying registration deadlines and exam protocols. 

It is vital that you make a note of when the registration deadlines are for the schools you are applying to. These deadlines are often very strict, and schools rarely allow applications after the deadline has passed.  

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Having these dates mapped out is also helpful as it makes the whole moving process less stressful, allowing you to stay organised and focused. 

3. Access Practice Papers and Resources Early

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If your child is not from the UK, it is unlikely that they will have ever come across the 11+ format. These tests are complicated, and it can be a very daunting process, especially for those who are unfamiliar with them. 

At Examberry, we offer a range of practice papers and learning resources to help guide children through their 11+ journey. These resources are available in downloadable or physical formats, so they are accessible to those overseas.

4. Establish a Routine and Encourage your Child

Moving countries and taking the 11+ exam can be an overwhelming experience for a child. Establishing a solid study routine is important to provide your child with structure and help you monitor their progress. 

Ideally, your child should start preparing for the 11+ at least a year before they take it, especially if they are completely unfamiliar with the content and format. 

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Starting early and tackling topics in small sections will reduce stress and ensure your child absorbs all the relevant information. 

Preparing in advance will also help you identify your child’s strengths and weaknesses, ensuring you have enough time to help them with the areas they are struggling in. 

Examberry Papers

One of the most effective way to prepare for an 11+ entrance exam is to use practice tests written by experts.

We offer a range of  11+ revision resources including area & school-specific papers, subject-specific papers, spelling & vocabulary resources, and reading books.

Each of our practice tests:

Key Recommendations for the 11+

Further Recommendations for the 11+

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