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Dorset Grammar Schools 11 plus: 2024 entry guide

By Atom | Feb 14, 2023, 1:07 PM

Dorset 11 plus

Are you considering a grammar school in Dorset for your child's secondary education? Find out how to apply and prepare for the Dorset 11 plus for September 2024 entry here. We've collated everything you need to know to ensure you and your child are fully prepared.

Dorset grammar schools 11 plus: key information

  • Registration opens: Monday 17th April 2023

  • Registration closes: Friday 8th September 2023

  • Deadline for application for access arrangements: Monday 11th September 2023

  • Exam date: Saturday 23rd September 2023

  • Exam board type: GL Assessment

  • Results: Friday 13th October 2023

  • Local authority application form deadline: 31st October 2023

  • National school offer day: 1st March 2024

  • Admissions information: Dorset Council Admissions

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

Dates can vary, so always check with your target schools!

What is the Dorset 11 plus test?

The 11 plus is an academic exam used by UK grammar schools to select pupils for entry. Children take the test in September while they are in Year 6. The test is designed to be challenging; grammar schools use it to select children working in the top 25% of the ability range in the year group.

The four grammar schools in the Dorset Consortium share the same exam papers and process. Consortiums are designed to reduce the number of tests your child will need to sit to be considered for several schools. However, each school has its own qualifying standard and priority admissions criteria. You can find more information on this on each school’s website.

Which schools in Dorset use the 11 plus?

There are four fully-selective grammar schools in Dorset. These schools are located within the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) local authority and all use the same 11 plus test:

Two further secondary schools in Dorset – Poole High School and Budmouth Academy – are partially-selective. This means that only a small proportion of their Year 7 intake is selected based on academic criteria. These schools have their own admissions process.

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How to apply to Dorset grammar schools

1. Register for the 11 plus

The 11 plus exam is designed to be academically challenging. It's a good idea to speak to your child's teacher before registering your child to see if they think your child is suitable for the 11 plus, and whether a grammar school environment would be the right place for them.

Registration for the 11 plus in Dorset opens on 17th April 2023 and closes on 8th September 2023. You will need to register directly with your target school; application forms will be available to download from the school's website between these dates.

2. Take the 11 plus exam

Details of the test and the arrangements for the day will be sent to you after Friday 15th September 2023. The exam will then take place on Saturday 23rd September 2023. Your child will sit the test at the school they are applying for.

3. Apply for a school place

You will receive the results of your child's 11 plus test by first-class post, sent on Friday 13th October 2023. You can then use the results to decide which schools to include on your local authority common application form (CAF).

Before listing a school on your form, check the school admissions policy and make sure your child is eligible. Even if your child meets the required standard (i.e. achieved a high enough score) to apply to the school, admission isn't guaranteed. The schools in Dorset have catchment areas, which means that children living in certain postcodes close to the school may be more likely to be offered a place.

The common application form must be submitted to your home local council by 31st October 2023.

3. National school offer day

On 1st March 2024, you will find out which school your child has been allocated a place at. They will be allocated a place at your highest-preferred school for which they meet the entry criteria and which has places available.

If no places are available at your preferred schools, they will be offered a place at another school in your area. You can appeal the decision via an independent panel.

What's on the Dorset 11 plus?

Created by GL Assessments, the Dorset 11 plus test covers the national curriculum content up to and including Year 6. It is designed to assess your child’s academic understanding, logical problem-solving, and ability to spot patterns.

Children will take three papers. All questions are multiple-choice, with candidates entering their answers on a pre-printed sheet. This is later marked by a computer.

  • Maths: 50 minutes. The paper is based on work which children would normally cover during Key Stage 2. It covers most aspects up to level 5, while some more challenging questions are aimed at level 6.

  • English: 45 minutes. This paper tests reading comprehension, vocabulary and punctuation.

  • Verbal reasoning: 50 minutes. Questions will test your child's ability to reason and solve problems with written information. This normally involves letters and words, but your child may come across problems involving numbers and symbols too.

Learn about 11+ topics in depth

What is the pass mark for the Dorset 11 plus?

Your child's raw scores for the three papers will be standardised according to your child's age in years and months. This is to ensure that children born later in the school year aren't disadvantaged by being younger. The scores will then be shared with the other schools in the consortium.

All candidates' marks will then be ranked in order of success. There is no set pass mark, as the qualifying standard will be determined by the number of children who have taken the test, and how well the particular cohort has performed.

Achieving the qualifying score doesn't guarantee a place at the school of your choice, as schools are oversubscribed with qualified candidates. We always recommend researching the admission policies for your target schools, looking at their oversubscription criteria and their catchment area.

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

Here are our top tips on how to help your child prepare for the 2023–24 exam:

Cover all the content

The 11 plus assesses a large breadth and depth of learning objectives across the Key Stage 2 curriculum. Starting preparation at least one year before the test and studying little and often will give your child time to build the skills and knowledge they need.

When preparing, avoid falling into the trap of over-focusing on either the topics your child enjoys or the topics they find hardest.

Atom Nucleus is an 11 plus online course that tailors your child's personalised learning journey to cover all elements of the 11 plus test at the right pace for them.

No surprises

Make sure your child is familiar with all styles of questions they will experience in the test. This reduces the potential for stress on the day and will give them the confidence to answer the questions to the best of their ability. Building exam techniques with 11 plus test papers will help your child to feel fully prepared.

Celebrate their progress

Setting regular goals and celebrating achievements will help keep motivation high. Atom Nucleus offers data-driven insights into your child’s progress towards mastering the 11 plus curriculum, making it easy to see where they need to focus next.

Personalised 11 plus prep for your child

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 the award-winning online 11 plus practice platform that gives your child everything they need to prepare for grammar school exams.

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

Dorset 11 plus practice papers

Atom Nucleus gives children access to unlimited online practice papers. Our online tests are designed to mirror the format and style of the real Dorset 11 plus, 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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Personalised 11 plus support for you

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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We're happy to help with any questions you may have about admissions processes and helping your child prepare for entry to Dorset grammar schools.

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