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11 plus maths: everything you need to know

11 plus

Feb 14, 2023, 11:52 AM


Is your child applying for entry to a grammar school or a selective private school?

Find out everything you need to know about 11 plus maths, including:

  • The key topics your child needs to know

  • The types of maths questions used by major exam boards

  • How your child can revise and prepare effectively

What are the key 11 plus maths topics?

If your child is taking the 11 plus exam for entry to a grammar school, they will sit the tests in September of Year 6. Entrance exams for private schools are normally taken slightly later (usually between November and January).

The questions your child will see in their test will be mapped to Level 5 of the UK Key Stage 2 national curriculum (i.e. content taught up until the end of Year 5). In some cases, questions may assess the content your child is taught in early Year 6.

There are 8 main topics in the programme of study for Key Stage 2 maths. These are:

  • Number – number and place value

  • Number – addition and subtraction

  • Number – multiplication and division

  • Number – fractions (including decimals and percentages)

  • Measurement

  • Geometry – properties of shape

  • Geometry – position and direction

  • Statistics

We've broken down these topics into more detail below.

Free 11 plus maths paper

  • 50 questions in 50 minutes

  • Mirrors the content and format of standard GL grammar school exams

  • Answer key and parents' guide

Download now
11 plus maths practice paper

Number: number and place value

By the end of Year 5, your child should be able to:

  • read, write, order, compare and round numbers up to 1,000,000

  • count backwards and forwards with positive and negative numbers (including through zero)

  • count backwards and forwards in steps of 10 for any number up to 1,000,000

  • interpret negative numbers in context

  • read Roman numerals up to 1,000 (M) and recognise years written in Roman numerals

Number and place value on Atom Nucleus

Number: addition and subtraction

By the end of Year 5, your child should be able to:

  • add and subtract numbers mentally, using increasingly larger numbers

  • add and subtract whole numbers of more than 4 digits using formal written methods (columnar addition and subtraction)

  • use rounding to check their answers and determine levels of accuracy when solving problems

  • decide whether to use addition or subtraction when solving multi-step problems

Addition and subtraction on Atom Nucleus

Number – multiplication and division

By the end of Year 5, your child should be able to:

  • identify multiples, all the factor pairs of a number, and the common factors of two numbers

  • understand and be able to use the vocabulary of prime numbers, prime factors and composite numbers (non-prime numbers)

  • work out whether a number up to 100 is prime

  • recall prime numbers up to 19

  • use long multiplication when multiplying numbers up to 4 digits by a 2-digit number

  • use short division when dividing numbers up to 4 digits by a 1-digit number

  • solve multiplication and division problems using knowledge of factors, multiples, squares and cubes

  • multiply and divide numbers mentally

  • multiply and divide whole numbers, and numbers involving decimals, by 10, 100 and 1,000

  • recognise and use square numbers and cube numbers

  • solve problems involving multiplication and division, including scaling by simple fractions and problems involving simple rates

Multiplication and division on Atom Nucleus

Number – fractions (including decimals and percentages)

By the end of Year 5, your child should be able to:

  • compare and order fractions whose denominators are multiples of the same number

  • multiply proper fractions and mixed numbers by whole numbers

  • identify, name and write equivalent fractions

  • add and subtract fractions with the same denominator(s)

  • read and write decimals as fractions

  • compare numbers with up to 3 decimal places, and round numbers with 2 decimal places, to the nearest whole number

  • recognise mixed numbers and improper fractions and convert from one form to the other

  • recognise the per cent symbol (%) and write percentages as a fraction with the denominator 100, and as a decimal

Fractions on Atom Nucleus

Free maths worksheets

Support your child's maths revision with free downloadable worksheets, covering challenging topics such as multiplication, division, fractions and decimals.

Explore worksheets


By the end of Year 5, your child should be able to:

  • convert between different units of metric measure (such as centimetre and metre, or litre and millilitre)

  • use approximate equivalences between metric and imperial units

  • measure and calculate the perimeter of rectilinear shapes using metres and centimetres

  • calculate and compare the areas of rectangles

  • estimate the area of irregular shapes

  • estimate volume

  • use standard units, square centimetres and square metres

Measurement on Atom Nucleus

Geometry: properties of shape

By the end of Year 5, your child should be able to:

  • identify 3D shapes from 2D representations

  • learn how to compare and estimate acute, obtuse and reflex angles

  • draw angles and measure them in degrees

  • understand the properties of rectangles to deduce facts and find missing lengths and angles

  • distinguish between regular and irregular polygons based on reading about equal sides and angles

Geometry – properties of shape on Atom Nucleus

Geometry: position and direction

By the end of Year 5, your child should be able to:

  • reflect shapes and lines

  • identify, represent and describe the position of shapes following a reflection or translation

Geometry – transformations on Atom Nucleus


By the end of Year 5, your child should be able to:

  • complete, read and interpret statistical information in tables (including timetables)

  • use line graphs to solve comparison, sum and difference problems

Statistics on Atom Nucleus

What is the structure of the 11 plus maths exam?

The structure of the 11 plus maths exam will vary depending on which school your child is applying for, and which exam board that school uses. Some schools may use their own bespoke papers created by the maths department. Regardless of which exam board your child's target school uses, it's very rare for calculators to be allowed in the test.

The structure of the maths paper by major exam boards

GL Assessment is commonly used by grammar schools for 11+ entry. Most GL exams come with a question booklet and an answer booklet – your child will write their answers in their answer booklet, which is then marked electronically. Questions are in multiple-choice format.

How is the 11 plus maths test marked?

Each maths question will carry a different number of marks. Typically, many exams will have easier, 1-mark questions at the start of the paper, with the questions becoming increasingly more challenging towards the end of the test. As these later questions will involve multi-step problems, there will likely be more marks available.

Some exam boards may reward pupils with marks for showing their workings, so it’s a good idea to ensure your child gets into the habit of writing down their problem-solving in the area underneath the question.

When the test is marked, the examiner will add all of the marks together to create a raw score. Some exam boards may use standardised marking so that pupils who were born towards the end of the school year are not disadvantaged by age. In the standardisation process, younger pupils (determined by their age in years and months) will be given extra marks as compensation.

How can my child prepare for the 11 plus maths exam?

Wondering how to make sure your child covers the depth and breadth of the entire 11 plus curriculum, stays on track with their progress, and gets help when they're stuck? Online learning is a particularly efficient, cost-effective (and fun) way to do this!

Atom Nucleus is an online learning platform that gives your child everything they need to prepare for the 11 plus exam.

Children work independently through over 90,000 interactive practice questions – just like the ones featured in this article. Teacher-created helpsheets and videos help them discover new concepts and consolidate their learning.

Atom's algorithm keeps children on their ideal learning path, tailored to their unique learning style and pace to keep them challenged and motivated.

See how Atom Nucleus works

Try answering some 11+ questions

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Unlimited 11 plus practice papers

Atom Nucleus gives children access to unlimited online practice papers tailored to your target schools. They're designed to mirror the format and style of real 11 plus questions, so your child will go into the exam knowing exactly what to expect.

And what's more, everything is automatically marked for you.

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