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Gloucestershire Grammar Schools 11 plus: a parents’ guide for 2023

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11 plus guide for parents: Gloucestershire Grammar Schools

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Gloucestershire is home to seven selective grammar schools, all boasting excellent results and oversubscribed each year. The Gloucestershire grammar schools cover Cheltenham, Gloucester, and Stroud areas, offering separate girls’, boys’ and mixed entry options for parents wanting a grammar school education for their child.

Change to GL Assessment from 2023

In October 2022, the Gloucestershire Grammar Schools announced that they will be changing their 11 plus provider from CEM (Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring) to GL Assessment. This is because CEM is changing their entrance exams from paper tests to online assessments, while GL Assessment is remaining paper-based and supplies familiarisation materials to applicants.

Children applying to a Gloucestershire grammar school for entry in 2024 will take two tests in September 2023. One test will test children on their verbal skills (including reading comprehension, vocabulary and verbal reasoning), while the other will assess non-verbal reasoning and mathematical knowledge, skills and understanding. The two tests combined take approximately two hours to complete.

Everything you need to know about GL Assessment

The Gloucestershire Grammar Schools 11 plus test 2023 at a glance

  • Registration opens: 22nd May 2023

  • Registration closes: 30th June 2023 (noon)

  • Exam date: Saturday 16th September 2023

  • Exam board type: GL Assessment

  • Results: mid-October 2023

  • National school offer day: 1st March 2024 (or next working day)

  • Local Authority acceptance of place: early March 2024

  • Admissions information: Gloucestershire Grammar Schools’ Admissions

  • Appeals: administered by each school, heard by an independent appeal panel

What is the Gloucestershire Grammar Schools 11 plus test?

For your child to be considered for any of the above grammar schools’ Year 7 entry cohort for 2024, they must be registered for and sit the 11 plus exam. The seven schools all use the same test paper, marking process and test-day format, but their qualifying pass mark is likely to differ. Places in these schools are highly sought after; passing the 11 plus alone does not guarantee admission.

All seven Gloucestershire grammar schools operate under a Local Authority Co-ordinated Admissions Scheme, meaning the Local Authority is responsible for allocating the school places based on priority ranking of the 5 school choices from the Common Application Form (CAF). Your child is only able to choose one of the grammar schools as a preference if they meet the qualifying standard after taking the 11 plus.

What is covered in the Gloucestershire 11 plus test?

Children will take two written test papers. Each paper has a time limit of one hour (two hours in total):

1. Verbal skills

Students will be tested on their ability in reading comprehension, vocabulary and verbal reasoning.

The questions will require children to:

  • process verbal information

  • identify similarities and differences between words

  • apply logical thinking and problem-solving skills

  • identify patterns

  • understand the rules and meaning of language, including word choice and grammar

  • answer questions to show their understanding of a passage

  • use accurate capital letters, punctuation and spelling

2. Non-verbal reasoning and maths

Students will be assessed on their skills in non-verbal reasoning and Key Stage 2 maths.

Candidates will need to show that they can:

  • process graphic information and follow patterns and rules

  • apply mathematical skills such as rotation, reflection, symmetry, basic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) and reading graphs and timetables

  • use spatial awareness

  • apply logical thinking and problem-solving skills

  • use quick mental arithmetic

  • understand shapes, space and measures

What is the pass mark for the Gloucestershire 11 plus?

There is no single pass mark for the test. Your child’s overall standardised score will be ranked in order of success - this is known as the ‘qualifying standard’. Ranking criteria are school-specific, the scores from previous years will be used to inform this year’s minimum ranked score.

The top 250 scoring students are then filtered using the school’s admissions policy (these can be found on their websites). The schools admit pupils who are 'looked after' or receiving Pupil Premium Funding as a priority; those pupils’ qualifying standard may be lower than non-priority pupils, who will make up the remaining 150 places.

How competitive is the Gloucestershire Grammar Schools 11 plus test?

There is significant competition in Gloucestershire to attend one of the seven grammar schools in the area and it is common to start preparation several years in advance of the test. Students should be very familiar with the format, question styles, and timing pressures of the exam.

Unlike some, the Gloucestershire grammar schools - and the Local Authority allocating the places - do not factor in catchment restrictions or sibling priority when assigning schools. This means there can be many candidates from across the area sitting the test and vying for a place.

When should my child start their preparation for the Gloucestershire 11 plus?

An ideal time to start preparing for the 11 plus is summer term of Year 4 or early Autumn Year 5. The test is designed to be challenging, assessing a solid understanding of academic content and problem-solving. The timing element can be a deciding factor in test-day success for many children, so your aim should be for your child to be well-prepared for the time pressures of the exam.

If your child requires general curriculum focus in addition to specific 11 plus preparation, it is advised to begin earlier. There are core-curriculum programmes available for Years 3 and 4. Your child should be working at expected or exceeding level with age-related content, having mastered age-appropriate curriculum before moving onto exam-style formats and questions.

How can I help my child to prepare?

Here are some top tips on how to best prepare your child for the 2023 exam.

Preparation is key: familiarisation with the question formats and known styles ahead of the exam is essential. Access to quality, unlimited practice material and mock tests ensures confidence when tackling the exam.

Vocabulary confidence: the reading comprehension element of the Gloucestershire 11 plus test will be above age-related reading level, so it is important that your child is familiar with a range of genres, authors, and purpose texts. Get free resources for engaging your child with reading.

Achieve mastery quickly: the 11 plus test assesses a huge amount of content. Atom's adaptive algorithm creates your child's personalised learning journey specific to your target schools, with over 90,000 expert, teacher-created resources to support your child to fully master each topic.

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Access to instant support: learners need clarification to address any misconceptions and become truly secure in their understanding of a topic. Access to videos, help sheets and engaging examples for each question builds confidence and competence in all areas covered in the exam.

Engage with their progress: celebrate their improvements in their areas of challenge together! An accurate, ongoing assessment of your child’s strengths and development areas is instrumental for preparing efficiently. Atom's Parent Portal gives you data-driven insights into your child’s areas of strength and development.

All-in-one platform for 11 plus prep

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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 grammar school exams.

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.

Unlimited Online 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.

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Get personalised support with 11 plus entry

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:

Book a call with an Education Expert

Confused about applying to grammar schools, and not sure what you or your child needs to do? Atom’s friendly and informative Education Experts are on hand to support you and your child every step of the way. Book a call to discuss any questions you have about admissions processes and helping your child prepare for entry to a grammar school.

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