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Buckinghamshire 11 plus: parents’ guide for 2023

Local guide

Feb 1, 2023, 5:23 PM

Buckinghamshire grammar schools 11 plus

Contents

Looking for a guide to help navigate the Buckinghamshire 11 plus test for 2023?

We've collated all the latest information, including:

  • Which grammar schools use the Buckinghamshire Secondary Transfer Test (11 plus)

  • The format of the Buckinghamshire 11 plus, and the subjects your child will be assessed on

  • Expert guidance on how to help your child prepare

The Buckinghamshire 11 plus test: at a glance

  • Registration opens: early May 2023

  • Registration closes: late June 2023

  • Exam date: September 2023

  • Exam board type: GL Assessment

  • Results: mid-October 2023

  • National school offer day: 1st March 2024

  • Admissions information: Buckinghamshire Council School Admissions

  • Appeals: undertaken by an independent appeal panel established for that school

What is the Secondary Transfer Test?

The 13 grammar schools in Buckinghamshire admit pupils based on their performance in the Buckinghamshire Secondary Transfer Test (the 11 plus), taken in the September of Year 6. Each of the grammar schools in Buckinghamshire is an academy, so they are their own admission authorities. However, for the purpose of the 11 plus test, they work together as a consortium known as The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools (TBGS), so there is only one test for all the schools. The Local Authority administers the test on behalf of the schools; more information can be found on TBGS website or the Buckinghamshire County Council website.

Buckinghamshire’s 11 plus registration process is unique: they operate an ‘opt-out’ system. If your child attends a Buckinghamshire primary school, your child will be automatically registered for the 11 plus test, unless you specifically request for them not to. If your child doesn’t attend a Buckinghamshire primary school, there are different registration requirements: find out if your child will be automatically registered here.

Your child will be given the opportunity to sit a shorter, unmarked practice test to help familiarise them with the structure, usually the week before the formal test. Both the practice and formal tests are taken at your child’s current primary school. If your child’s primary school is not in Buckinghamshire, they will be invited to one of the grammar schools to sit the tests.

What does the 11 plus test assess?

Children taking the Buckinghamshire Secondary Transfer Test will take two exam papers which assess English comprehension, verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning and maths.

Each test is administered in about one hour, including 15 minutes for reading instructions and completing practice exercises, and 45 minutes for the test questions. All questions are multiple-choice and children write their answers on separate answer booklets.


Paper 1: English comprehension and verbal reasoning

In the first paper, your child will be tested on technical English and verbal reasoning. They will have a reading comprehension task with a passage of text and related questions. These questions will test your child’s understanding of the text itself as well as the vocabulary choice, punctuation and spelling competency, and grammatical knowledge.

The verbal reasoning part of this paper follows GL question styles. It’s a good idea to familiarise your child with these question styles as the format stays the same each year.


Paper 2: non-verbal reasoning and maths

The first section of Paper 2 assesses non-verbal reasoning. Your child will be tested on their mathematical and scientific skills, including problem-solving and spatial awareness. They'll be given a selection of graphic puzzles and sequences and they must highlight areas of mistake as well as complete the patterns. These question styles are not taught at school, so home preparation is key.

The second section of Paper 2 tests your child’s knowledge of Key Stage 2 maths. This includes Year 6 concepts such as ratio, percentages, and algebra that your child will not yet have encountered in the classroom – so again, home preparation is key. Practice with arithmetic and problem-solving questions, rapid recall of number facts, and written calculation, will give your child a good foundation to perform well in this section.

What is the pass mark for the Buckinghamshire 11 plus?

The 3 sections are weighted as follows:

  • English & verbal reasoning 50%

  • Non-verbal reasoning 25%

  • Maths 25%

The total of all raw scores from each section are standardised to avoid any potential disadvantage for age differences, giving your child their Secondary Transfer Test Score (STTS). If your child scores above 121 marks, they will be eligible for grammar school entry. Unlike other Local Authorities, Buckinghamshire does not rank the scores.

However, passing the 11 plus does not guarantee a place at your target school. You will need to apply to your target schools via the Local Authority Common Application Form (CAF) by the end of October 2022. For children who have met the qualifying score of 121, the grammar schools will offer places depending on their own priority criteria.

How competitive is the Buckinghamshire 11 plus?

Due to the opt-out system, Buckinghamshire 11 plus test has a huge number of candidates per year. There are more children who reach the qualifying standard than places available, which means grammar schools are often oversubscribed. Approximately 37% of children who sit the exam will achieve the qualifying score.

Appeal success rates are low, but you can opt for a selection review if your child didn't qualify for a grammar school place. You can choose to appeal, but bear in mind there's a fee involved in requesting a paper remark.

When should I begin preparing my child for the 11 plus?

To give your child enough time to securely master all the content needed for the 11 plus, a good time to begin preparing is the summer term of Year 4 or in the autumn term of Year 5. This will allow your child to become confident and familiar with the testing process and styles of questions they will encounter.

The Buckinghamshire Secondary Transfer Test is designed to be academically challenging for children who are working above age-related expectations. If your child is not yet exceeding age-related expectations, it is helpful to start earlier and build their understanding of the core curriculum, before progressing onto exam preparation.

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

No surprises: make sure your child is familiar with all styles of questions they will experience in the test. This reduces the potential for panic on the day and will give them the confidence to answer the questions to the best of their ability.

If your child attends a Buckinghamshire primary school, they will be sent a small sample of familiarisation papers to your home address in the summer term of Year 5 for them to practise.

Develop their vocabulary: the technical English and verbal reasoning sections rely on a depth and breadth of vocabulary knowledge, which may include the names of unusual objects or descriptions. Reading for pleasure is a great way to support your child's development in these areas.

Tailor their learning journey: setting regular goals and celebrating achievements will help your child progress efficiently. With Atom Nucleus, you'll get data-driven insights into your child’s progress. Our adaptive algorithm tailors their learning journey and makes it easy to see where they need to focus next.

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We know how keen you are for your child to do well in the 11 plus, to give them every chance of securing a place at their school of choice. Our dedicated team of Education Experts are on hand to support you and your family every step of the way:

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