Is your child taking an 11 plus exam administered by FSCE? Find out everything you need to know about the test. Discover which subjects are assessed, how papers are marked, and get free resources to help your child prepare.
The FSCE 11 plus is a Year 7 entrance test created by Future Stories Community Enterprise – a subsidiary of Reading School. Grammar schools use the test to estimate children’s academic potential and to see whether they will thrive in a selective school.
FSCE was created in early 2022. The enterprise aims to ensure children from disadvantaged backgrounds have equal opportunities to get into grammar schools. The exam is entirely paper-based, making it easier for all schools to facilitate. Children are not tested beyond the Year 5 curriculum or on verbal or non-verbal reasoning, as these subjects are not taught at school. This means that all children who take the test in the autumn term of Year 6 will have learnt the content covered in the exam.
Three schools currently use the FSCE 11 plus to select pupils for Year 7. These schools are all ranked within the top 20 grammar schools in the UK:
Chelmsford County High School for Girls – girls–only grammar school in Essex
Colyton Grammar School – mixed grammar school in Devon
Reading School – boys-only grammar school in Berkshire
The FSCE 11 plus exam is taken on paper. Your child will receive one question booklet and one answer sheet for each subject. For all three subjects, answers must be written on the provided answer sheet – any work written in the question booklet will not be seen or marked.
The instructions are read out via a voice recording. At the start of each section, the voice recording will tell children:
which page number they must turn to
the section number and name
instructions for how to answer the questions
an example question (also printed in the question booklet, so they can follow along)
how much time they have to complete the section
when they can start answering the questions
how much time they have left before the end of the section.
At least one invigilator will be present in the room to help your child if they need any support.
Your child’s details, such as their name, primary school, and date of birth, plus the date and time of the test, will be pre-written on each of their answer sheets. At the start of each test, your child will be asked to check that this information is correct. If any information is incorrect, they can raise their hand and an invigilator will help.
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The FSCE 11 plus tests English, maths and creative writing.
The English paper assesses reading comprehension, vocabulary, and spelling. It's split into three shorter and individually timed sections:
For the comprehension section, children will need to read a short passage of text. The following questions will assess how well they understand what they have read, and their ability to analyse and interpret the text. The text could be a piece of fiction or non-fiction.
The questions are multiple-choice. Your child will have a separate answer sheet to complete and will need to select the best answer by shading the matching oval (A, B, C or D) on their answer sheet. Horizontal or vertical lines, drawn through the oval, are not accepted.
There is only one correct answer for each question, so your child should only shade one oval.
Take a look at some example comprehension questions from the FSCE familiarisation guide.
This section tests the words your child currently knows and how well they understand their meaning.
They will see a series of question boxes on their answer sheet. Each question box contains one word and five options (A–E). They will need to identify the word from the choice of options that is an exact or close match (synonym) of the main word in the question.
The answers follow the same style as the reading comprehension section. Your child should shade in the oval (A, B, C, D or E) which corresponds with the correct word in their question booklet. Again, there is only one correct answer, so your child should only shade one oval.
The vocabulary questions and answers below are examples from the FSCE familiarisation guide.
Spelling is assessed through a section on missing letters. In each question, children will see a word with some letters removed. They will need to identify the full word in the context of the sentence and complete the word so that it is spelt correctly.
To complete the missing letters, your child will need to write each letter in a marked box on the answer sheet. They should write in capital letters with one letter per box. The number of empty boxes corresponds to the number of missing letters in the word.
There is only one correct answer for each question. The words will be different lengths, so the number of missing letters will vary for each question.
Have a look at some example ‘missing letters’ questions below.
The FSCE 11 plus maths paper will test your child’s knowledge from Year 5 of the Key Stage 2 maths curriculum. This covers the following topics:
Number and place value: round numbers, negative numbers, and Roman numerals
Calculations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, plus factors and prime, square and cube numbers
Fractions, decimals and percentages: comparing and ordering, adding and subtracting, multiplying and rounding, and beginning to understand percentages
Measurement: units, perimeter, area and volume
Geometry: 2D shapes, 3D shapes, angles, reflection and translation
Statistics: tables and line graphs
Your child will be able to use the available space in the question booklet to work out their answers. However, answers must be recorded on the answer sheet provided. No marks will be awarded for working out.
The maths questions may be multiple-choice or free-response. Multiple-choice questions are similar to those in the English paper; your child will need to shade the oval for the letter (A, B, C, D, or E) that corresponds with the correct answer.
Free-response answers will have marked square boxes. Your child should write one digit per box – for example, if an answer has two digits (20), then they should write 2 in one box and 0 in the box next to it.
If the answer has a unit attached (e.g. degrees, £, metres etc.), this will be pre-written on the answer sheet. Your child should pay attention to this and make sure their answer is relevant to the unit provided. Answers written in the wrong format will not receive any marks.
See the sorts of maths questions your child might be asked in the following examples from the FSCE familiarisation guide.
The third paper in the FSCE 11 plus exam is a creative writing task. This enables schools to assess children from a more holistic angle.
Your child will see a prompt, which they will use as the title for a piece of original writing. Time will be built into the test for your child to plan their answer before they are told to start writing.
Space will be provided in the question booklet for your child to plan their creative writing piece. This will not be marked, but they should use this time to structure their ideas and organise their thoughts. They may wish to write notes, plot out the steps in their story, or draw a spider diagram. They will not be able to write on the answer sheet during the planning time.
Your child will be told when the planning time has finished, and when to start writing on the answer sheet. Any work written in the question booklet will not be marked.
Examiners will be looking for children who can demonstrate:
creativity and imagination
good structure and pace
correct and effective use of spelling, punctuation and grammar
an extensive and interesting vocabulary
varied sentence structures
Papers 1 and 2 (English and maths) are marked electronically. OMR (Optical Mark Readers) scan the answer sheets and detect the marks your child has made in the boxes. Answer sheets are printed with a unique barcode for each candidate.
Your child’s raw scores from the English and maths papers will be age-standardised. This is a statistical process that takes into account your child’s age at the time of taking the test, and the number of correct marks. The standardised age score (SAS) is the final score which schools use to rank candidates.
Children who have achieved an eligible score have their creative writing paper marked by examiners. The eligible score is usually set by the school itself – more details will be included in your target school’s admissions policy.
Online 11 plus practice papers on Atom Nucleus provide your child with a standardised age score equivalent to the scoring used in real 11 plus exams. We recommend that students aim for an SAS of at least 120 when practising for entry to grammar schools.
Here are our top tips for helping your child prepare effectively for the FSCE 11 plus exam.
The English paper will test your child’s ability to read and analyse text. The best way to prepare for this is to read widely at home, including both fiction and non-fiction texts.
It's important that your child reads books from different genres and by a diverse range of authors. Variety will help your child grasp the nuances of different styles, tones and purposes. Regular reading will help widen your child's vocabulary, sharpen their analytical thinking, and enhance their imagination.
When preparing for an exam, it can be tempting to jump straight into using practice papers. However, this is not an effective way to learn and can cause children to feel demotivated.
Your child should have a good understanding of Year 5 content before testing their knowledge under exam conditions. Using a 'little and often' approach is key, as our brains encode new information more effectively when dealing with smaller ‘chunks’ of information. Experts recommend study sessions of 20–30 minutes for 10-year-olds.
Once your child has covered the curriculum and feels confident with Year 5 topics, it’s time to move on to mock tests. Practice tests help develop problem-solving skills and build confidence working under test conditions. They're also a great way to consolidate learning and highlight knowledge gaps for further improvement.
11 plus mock tests on Atom Nucleus match real 11 plus exams set by grammar schools. Your child will build exam technique and become familiar with different question styles, helping them feel confident on exam day.
Setting regular goals and celebrating achievements – no matter how big or small – will help keep your child’s motivation high.
With Atom Nucleus, you'll see data on your child's progress, making it easy to celebrate moments of success and see where to focus next. Meanwhile, your child will be rewarded with coins for correct answers and consistent practice. This helps them stay motivated to keep learning.
Wondering how to make sure your child covers the depth and breadth of the Year 5 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 exam subjects. 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.
With Atom Nucleus, you’ll get access to online 11 plus practice papers. Our tests are designed to mirror the format and style of real 11 plus exams, so your child will go into the exam knowing exactly what to expect.
And what’s more, everything is automatically marked for you.
Begin your child’s journey to grammar school today. Use the full features of Atom Nucleus completely free for 5 days – cancel anytime.
We understand how important this next step is for them, and for you. Please don't hesitate to get in touch with any questions you may have about the 11 plus or your local grammar schools.
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