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What is a good 11 plus score?

By Atom | Oct 30, 2023, 5:22 PM

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If you're preparing for the 11 plus, you may be wondering what score your child needs to qualify for a place at their target grammar school. Keep reading to learn:

  • How standardised age scores are calculated

  • Eleven plus pass marks for popular grammar schools

  • How to help your child achieve a good 11 plus score

What is a standardised age score?

Many selective schools use standardised scoring in their entry process. This includes schools using GL Assessment 11 plus papers, the CAT4 and the ISEB Common Pre-Test.

Standardisation removes variables from test scores to give a fair comparison of results. The process takes into account your child's age in years and months at the time of taking the exam (e.g. 10 years and 9 months). The raw score (the total number of marks) is converted into a standardised age score (SAS) to indicate how a child has performed against a representative sample of children of the same age.

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How is a standardised age score calculated?

1. Attainment estimate

The first step in calculating a SAS is to produce an attainment estimate. This takes into account the number of questions answered correctly or incorrectly across different test papers, giving equal weighting to each. On an adaptive test such as the ISEB, the difficulty of the questions is taken into account.

The attainment estimate also considers the time allocation for the test. For example, a 50-minute verbal reasoning test with 80 questions won't be directly compared with a 50-minute maths test with 50 questions.

2. Age consideration

Next, these scores are adjusted based on the child's age at the time they sit the exam. A pupil born in September will be almost 12 months older than a pupil born the following August, which gives the older a child a significant advantage.

To combat this, younger pupils are ‘awarded’ extra marks to make up for their age. For example, a child born in September and a child born the following August both achieve a raw score of 100. While the older child's standardised score is 118, the younger child may then receive a standardised score of 121.

But don't worry – it's not true that older pupils will have marks deducted. While younger pupils may gain more marks to even their chances, older pupils will never lose marks.

3. Stanine placement

After the standardisation is complete, pupils' scores are placed on a stanine curve. This represents a scale of 1 (low) to 9 (high), where 5 represents the average for that child's age. The stanine can give a broad overview of performance at an individual and year-group level.

What is a good SAS on the 11 plus?

Standardised age scores normally range from 60 at the lowest end, to 142 at the highest end. Each child's result is mapped onto a normal distribution curve:

  • 80 or below represents the bottom 10% of the year group

  • 100 represents the average score for the child's year group

  • 120 or above represents the top 10% of children in that year group

The highest standardised age score a child can achieve is usually 142. This score would place them within the top 1% of children taking the test.

What is the 11 plus pass mark?

Some grammar schools and grammar school consortiums set a pass mark – or 'qualifying mark' - for their 11 plus exams, but this isn't consistent across the country. Many schools rank the SAS of every child who took the test from highest to lowest. They then offer places to a set number of the highest-scoring pupils (e.g. the 180 children with the highest scores).

Achieving the pass mark does not guarantee an offer of a place. For entry to grammar schools, it simply means that you can list the school as a preference on your common application form. Other admissions criteria is always taken into account when offering places – such as whether a child lives within a certain catchment area, if they are in public care or previously in public care, or qualify for free school meals.

Some grammar school consortiums do have set pass marks, or have provided historic qualifying marks:

Children taking the Buckinghamshire Secondary Transfer Test need a standardised score of 121 or above to be eligible for a grammar school place.

What 11 plus score should my child aim for?

By the time your child is ready to sit the eleven plus, they should be achieving an SAS of at least 115. 11 plus practice papers are useful for gauging how your child is likely to perform on the real exam at their current level of knowledge.

Your child's SAS is a helpful indicator of their progress, as it is the same scoring system used in the real exam. Keeping an eye on how it develops will give you insights into how quickly they are improving, as well as highlighting subtopics that need more practice.

With Atom Home, you can set your child 11 plus test papers that replicate real exams used by grammar schools across the UK. Atom's online mock tests are automatically-marked, giving you instant data on your child's progress. This includes:

  • Your child's standardised age score

  • An indication of their time management (questions attempted, time taken, and average time per question)

  • A breakdown of their ability in all tested subtopics

Plus, use Atom's smart algorithm to quickly set your child a practice in areas they found challenging!

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