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SW Herts 11 plus guide

By Atom | Jun 29, 2023, 9:11 AM

South West Hertfordshire 11 plus

Looking for information about the 11 plus for selective schools in South West Hertfordshire? If your child is due to start secondary school in September 2024, we've collated everything you need to know here. Keep reading to learn what to expect from the South West Herts application process and how to prepare for the exam.

SW Herts Consortium 11 plus: key info

  • Registration opens: 11th April 2023

  • Registration closes: 16th June 2023

  • Register via: SW Herts Consortium

  • Test venue notification: 7th July 2023

  • Exam dates: 4th September (music test), 9th September (academic test), 13th September 2023 (sports test)

  • Exam board type: GL Assessment and schools' own

  • Music test results: 14th September 2023

  • Music test 2nd round: 17th–22nd September 2023

  • Academic test results: 18th October 2023

  • Local authority application form deadline: 31st October 2023

  • National school offer day: 1st March 2024

  • Appeals: heard by an independent panel

Always confirm dates with your target schools!

What is the SW Herts 11 plus test?

The 11 plus is an entrance exam used by UK grammar schools as part of their admissions process. It's used to assess academic potential and decide whether a grammar school environment will suit a child. Children can only take the test once per academic year, in September while they are in Year 6.

Seven schools in South West Hertfordshire share their 11 plus test, so children only have to take one round of tests to apply to more than one school in the area. These schools are known as the South West Herts Schools Consortium.

Which schools use the test?

There are no fully-selective grammar schools in Hertfordshire – but several secondary schools are partially-selective. This means that only a portion of their places are offered based on academic/musical/sports ability.

SWH Consortium schools:

The following schools are not members of the SW Herts Consortium, but are also partially-selective:

  • Bishop's Stortford High School

  • Chancellor's School

  • Dame Alice Owen's School

  • Goffs Academy

  • Hertfordshire and Essex High School

  • Hockerill Anglo-European College

Test your knowledge

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How to apply to SW Herts grammar schools

1. Register for entrance exams

If you're applying to schools in the South West Herts Consortium, register for exams here before 16th June 2023.

If you're applying for partially selective schools that are not part of the consortium, you must register for their exams separately on the schools' websites:

2. Apply for school places

Once your child has taken the relevant entrance exams and you have their results, you will be able to decide which schools to include on your local authority application form. Before listing a school on your form, always check its admissions policy and make sure your child is eligible.

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

If you believe your child's exam was marked incorrectly, you can request a marking review through the SWH Consortium (consortium schools only). However, it is very unlikely for errors in marking to be found.

Most schools also require you to complete their supplementary information form (SIF) during this time, which you can download from their websites. The deadline for the SIF varies from school to school between September and 31st October.

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 SWH Consortium 11 plus?

The entrance exams for SWH grammar schools include three different tests:

  • Academic ability (Saturday 9th September 2023)

  • Music aptitude (Monday 4th September and Monday 18th–Friday 22nd September 2023)

  • Sports (Wednesday 13th September 2023, Queens' School only)

You can choose which test(s) you would like your child to take when you register. You will be told which test venue your child has been assigned to on 7th July (the venue does not affect your school applications).

Academic ability test

The SW Herts academic test is provided by GL Assessment. It is in multiple-choice format and consists of two papers, each lasting about 50 minutes. Children record their answers in a separate answer booklet which is marked electronically.

The two papers are:

  • Maths

  • Verbal reasoning

The maths paper assesses your child's knowledge of Key Stage 2 national curriculum objectives for Years 5 and 6. The verbal reasoning paper assesses your child’s ability to connect, spot patterns with, and manipulate verbal information.

Learn about 11+ topics in depth

Music aptitude test

The first stage music test is a written test consisting of 60 questions in four sections, played on a CD. It takes about 45 minutes in total and is held in the afternoon after school.

The questions assess your child's understanding of pitch, melody, rhythm and texture:

  • Pitch – 20 questions: pupils listen to two sounds and have to indicate whether the second sound is the same as the first, or whether it is higher or lower. Some of the pitches are less than a semitone apart.

  • Melody – 10 questions: pupils listen to two tunes consisting of five notes. They have to decide whether the second tune is the same as the first or if one of the notes has been altered. If there is a change, they need to identify which note has been altered, by giving the number of the note.

  • Texture – 20 questions: pupils listen to a chord and must decide whether each chord has two, three or four notes.

  • Rhythm – 10 questions: pupils listen to two patterns of notes and have to decide whether the second pattern is the same as, or different from, the first, and where any difference occurs. Each rhythm is four beats in length.

Your child's first stage music test results will be available on Thursday 14th September. Children who are successful in the first stage music test are invited to the second stage which takes place the following week. In the second stage, your child must play or sing a piece of their choice for examiners. Marks are awarded for accuracy, musicality and musical communication, from a total score out of 45.

More details can be found here.

Sports test

The sports test is for Queens' School only and is arranged by the school itself. The test covers core movement skills selected from the Council of European Physical Fitness:

  • Sit-ups (30 seconds)

  • Endurance run (8 minutes)

  • Shuttle run (speed and agility)

  • Sit and reach (flexibility)

  • Standing broad jump (explosive strength)

  • Plate tapping (speed of limb movement)

  • Flamingo test (balance)

As there are a large number of applicants for this test, the school states that only children with exceptional sports aptitude and who live within Queens' School catchment area should apply (WD3-WD7, WD17-WD19, WD23–WD25, AL2 (south of M25), HA6, HA5 3**, HA5 4**, HA3 6**, HA7 3**, HA7 4**).

More details can be found here.

What is the pass mark for SWH 11 plus?

There is no single pass mark for the academic test. Instead, the scores are ranked and the highest-scoring children are eligible for consideration. Schools define their own cut-off scores each year after the tests are marked, based on their unique admissions criteria and the performance of the cohort.

Achieving the cut-off score doesn't guarantee a place at the school of your choice, as schools could still be oversubscribed with qualified candidates. We always recommend researching the admission policies for your target schools, looking at their oversubscription criterion and their catchment area.

For example, many schools are more likely to admit a lower-scoring pupil in their priority zones than a higher-scoring child who lives further away. Other criteria are applied, such as whether a child has a sibling at the school or a parent who works at the school, if they have an Education, Health and Care plan, or if they are a Looked After Child.

Children's 11 plus scores are standardised to even out any age disadvantage for children born later in the year.

The schools publish the lowest scores which have achieved entry in recent years. Treat these as a general guide only, because it isn't possible to predict the performance of each year's cohort or how many children will be offered places under priority criteria.

Lowest academic test scores to get a place (2022)

In catchment area: 215. Outside catchment area: 244

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

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

Cover all the content

The 11 plus assesses a large breadth and depth of learning objectives. Starting at least one year before the test, and using a little-and-often approach, will give your child time to securely build the skills and knowledge they need.

Atom Nucleus is an 11 plus online course which tailors your child's personalised learning journey to cover all elements of the SWH 11 plus. This will help you to avoid the common mistake of over-focusing on the topics your child enjoys, or conversely, the topics they find the most difficult.

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 confidence to answer the questions to the best of their ability. Access to unlimited local 11 plus test papers will allow your child to build exam technique and feel fully prepared on the day.

Engage with their progress

Setting regular goals and celebrating achievements will help keep motivation high. Atom offers data-driven insights into your child’s progress towards mastering the SWH 11 plus content, 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, 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.

South West Herts 11 plus practice papers

Atom Nucleus gives children access to unlimited online practice papers tailored to the SWH 11 plus test. Our online tests are 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.

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:

Ask us anything

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

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