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Berkshire Grammar Schools 11 plus guide

By Atom | Jun 20, 2023, 3:46 PM

Berkshire grammar schools 11 plus

Is your child applying to a grammar school in Berkshire for September 2024 entry?

Find out everything you need to know about 11 plus admissions, including local grammar schools, the content of the exam and how to help your child prepare effectively.

Which Berkshire grammar schools use the 11 plus test?

The following six schools in Berkshire are all grammar schools. They all admit children into the school based on their performance in the 11 plus exam.

Herschel Grammar School, Langley Grammar School, St Bernard's Catholic Grammar School and Upton Court Grammar School are all located in the Slough area and belong to the Slough Grammar School Consortium. They all share the same 11 plus test paper and admissions process. Take a look at our guide to the Slough Consortium for more information about applying to these schools.

Slough Consortium 11 plus guide

Reading School and Kendrick School are located in Reading and have different testing processes. You can find more information about admissions for these schools below.

There is one partially-selective grammar school in Berkshire. Reading Girls' School provides up to 42 places to girls based on their ability by means of selection tests. The remaining places in Year 7 (up to 180 total) are allocated according to other (non-academic) criteria.

What is the 11 plus?

The 11 plus is an academic test taken in September of Year 6 by children applying to grammar schools. It’s necessary to meet a school-specific ‘pass’ standard to be considered for a place. Places in these schools are highly sought after: passing the 11 plus alone does not guarantee admission.

The Slough Grammar School Consortium operates in the Berkshire area and comprises four grammar schools. The same test and application process is used for all schools in the consortium, to avoid excessive test-taking for pupils applying for their Year 7 admissions places.

Reading School, Kendrick School and Reading Girls' School all have different tests and admissions processes. Reading School uses an 11 plus test administered by the Future Stories Community Enterprise (FSCE), Kendrick School uses a GL Assessment test, and Reading Girls' School uses CEM Select to test girls applying for a place on the school's selective stream.

Berkshire 11 plus at a glance

  • Registration opens: April 2023 (Reading Girls' School), 1st May 2023 (Reading School and Kendrick School)

  • Registration closes: 30th June 2023 (Reading School), 1st July 2023 (Kendrick School)

  • Exam date: 6th September 2023 (Reading School), 16th September 2023 (Kendrick School), 14th October 2023 (Reading Girls' School)

  • Exam board type: GL Assessment (Kendrick School), FSCE (Reading School), CEM Select (Reading Girls' School)

  • Results: mid-October 2023

  • National school offer day: 1st March 2024

  • Admissions information: see admissions information for individual schools

  • Appeals: see appeals information for individual schools

Kendrick School 11 plus test

The Kendrick School 11 plus test is delivered by GL Assessment. Children applying to the school will take two tests in mid-September in Year 6. Both tests have a one-hour time limit and are taken on the same day. There will be a short break between the two papers.

Both papers will consist of multiple-choice questions. The raw scores will be age-standardised, then each child will be ranked according to the aggregate of the age-standardised score of both papers.

The questions on both papers will cover three subjects:

Verbal reasoning

These questions assess the knowledge of words and their meanings in context, vocabulary depth, and how words relate to each other. Children will be tested on a range of skills, including their reading fluency and comprehension, vocabulary knowledge, phonological awareness, ability to discover and apply rules, logic and problem-solving, and attention to detail.

Non-verbal reasoning

Linked with mathematical and scientific skills, these shape puzzles are designed to test problem-solving skills. 11 plus non-verbal reasoning tests are designed to assess your child's maths skills, spatial awareness, ability to identify patterns and rules, logic and problem-solving, and overall general intelligence.


Children are assessed on their knowledge of the Key Stage 2 English curriculum. The questions cover reading comprehension, spelling, punctuation and grammar. There is no creative writing element.


Children are assessed on their knowledge of the Key Stage 2 maths curriculum. The main topics are number (number and place value, operations and fractions), measurement, geometry (properties of shape, position and direction) and statistics).

Reading School 11 plus test

The 11 plus test at Reading School is provided by the Future Stories Community Enterprise (FSCE).

The exam consists of three separate papers. For each of the three papers, children will be given a separate question booklet and answer booklet.

Children are tested on three subjects:


There are three smaller sections within the English paper:

  • Reading comprehension: children will read a passage of text and answer questions to demonstrate their understanding

  • Vocabulary: your child will be tested on the meaning of different words

  • Missing letters: questions will assess your child's ability to place words in context and spell them correctly


Following the national curriculum, these questions will work above the Year 5 content your child will be taught in school. Children will need to use addition, subtraction, division and multiplication skills, and they may also be asked to solve worded number problems. The questions will be a combination of multiple choice and free response.

Creative writing

Paper 3 is a creative writing test. Children will be given a prompt and asked to complete a piece of creative writing based on that prompt. They will be given time to plan their answer and told when to start writing.

The creative element is only marked if the eligibility score has been reached through the maths and English papers, showing the need for ‘all-round’ competency. If the standardised scores for the English and maths tests are tied for two or more candidates – and if the admission would exceed the PAN (Planned Admission Number), the creative writing result will be used to determine the final rank order.

Reading Girls' School 11 plus test

Girls applying for one of the 42 places available on the selective stream at Reading Girls' School take the CEM Select assessment. This is an online test, taken on a computer, lasting approximately one hour.

Children will be tested on:

English comprehension and verbal reasoning

Children will read a passage of fiction or non-fiction and answer questions which assess their understanding of the text and the extent of their vocabulary. They will also have verbal reasoning questions in the following formats:

  • Anagrams

  • Missing words

  • Shuffled sentences


Children will work through around 30 questions which assess numerical ability. These questions are mapped to the Key Stage 2 maths curriculum.

Non-verbal reasoning

The final section of the CEM Select test assesses non-verbal reasoning – the ability to analyse visual information and solve problems. For each question, children will need to select a picture (from a range of options) that best fits a set, based on particular qualities and patterns.

What is the pass mark for the 11 plus in Berkshire?

The pass mark for Kendrick School may vary year on year depending on the success rate of the previous cohort. If a cohort finds the questions exceptionally challenging, the pass mark may be lower than it was the previous year.

Reading School and Reading Girls' School do not have set pass marks. Instead, pupils are ranked in order of success, and the highest-ranking pupils are eligible to be considered for a place.

Each school’s individual admissions policy will need to be considered: schools are more likely to admit a lower-scoring pupil within their priority zones and admission criteria than a child who lives outside the area. Both Kendrick School and Reading School have designated catchment areas.

How to help your child prepare for the 11 plus in Berkshire

Here are Atom Learning's top tips on how to best prepare your child for the 11 plus exam.

Start preparation early

The ideal time to start preparing for the 11 plus is in the summer term of Year 4 or early autumn term of Year 5. Starting early and practising often in bitesize chunks will minimise stress and pressure.

Your child should have mastery of age-appropriate curriculum topics before moving on to exam-style formats and questions. The best results come from your child being relaxed and thoroughly prepared for the exam.

Build curriculum knowledge

When preparing for an exam it can be tempting to jump straight into using past papers. However, this is not an effective way to learn, and can cause children to feel demotivated. Learners should build a secure understanding of the 11 plus content before being tested under exam conditions.

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Develop exam technique

Once your child is confident with the 11 plus curriculum, begin to introduce practice tests to help them get used to 11 plus question formats and timings. They will develop essential time management skills, and become familiar with what to expect on exam day.

Celebrate progress

To keep motivation high, be sure to celebrate each milestone in your child's revision, no matter how minor! Small rewards and plenty of breaks help young learners to stay engaged.

Support wellbeing

Preparing for exams can feel overwhelming for young people. Here's how to prepare mentally and emotionally, and how to help your child manage test anxiety should it arise.

All-in-one platform for 11 plus prep

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.

Children work independently through over 90,000 interactive practice questions in English, maths, verbal and non-verbal reasoning. 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.

Berkshire 11 plus practice papers

Atom Nucleus gives children access to 11 plus online practice papers tailored to your target schools. They're designed to mirror the format and style of real 11 plus questions for grammar schools in Berkshire, 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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