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11+ Entrance Exams | Differences between Grammar schools and Independent Schools

Students wishing to gain entry to an grammar school or an independent school should be looking to enter their child into Year 7 (11+ entry) or Year 9 (13+ entry). The majority of schools require their prospective students to sit an Entrance Exam approximately 6-9 months before entry.

Read on to find out about the key differences between grammar and independent schools.

Independent Schools

There are a handful of independent schools which use the ISEB’s (Independent Schools Examination Board) 11+ examinations. Common Entrance Exams written by ISEB for 11+ students usually consist of English, Maths and Science. To find out which independent schools use ISEB for 11+, click here.

However, the majority of independent schools opt to write their own 11+ exams for English and Maths. It is also common for independent schools to test prospective students in verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Independent schools often buy in their verbal and non-verbal reasoning tests from a recognised publisher like GL Assessments or CEM. It is always advisable to check with the school to see what any test will entail.

Grammar Schools

Grammar schools tend to use a recognised provider (GL or CEM) to administer and mark their 11+ exams. If your child is sitting the GL exam, they will complete examinations in English, Maths, Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning. If your child is sitting the CEM exam, they will complete examinations in Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning and Numerical Reasoning. Again, it is always advisable to check with the school to see which exam board the school uses.

Key Differences between Independent and Grammar school exams

  • Independent school 11+ exams tend to include a creative writing element.

  • Grammar school exams tend to be multiple choice whereas Independent schools tend to be a standard examination.

  • In independent schools English 11+ exams marks can be deducted for incorrect spelling, punctuation and grammar. This is not an issue in grammar school tests as students complete multiple choice questions.

  • Independent school 11+ Maths exams tend to include questions towards the end of the test that go beyond the Year 6 curriculum whereas grammar school tests tend to focus on the Year 5 and Year 6 curriculum.

  • Independent schools may award marks for correct working out in the 11+ Maths exam whereas grammar school tests are simply marked based on the right answer.

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