What YOU need to know about the 11+ exam in Birmingham.

So we did a little research. It turns out a lot of parents are asking the same questions about the 11+ exam and the overall Birmingham Grammar school process. Many of them finding it hard to navigate the formidable amount of advice online. They find themselves navigating the copious amounts of propaganda and marketing struggling to uncover the facts. That’s why we are here. So, what do you need to know about the 11+ exam?

Smart 11+ Tuition Centres asked a few parents this week, what they would most like to know about the 11+ exam. We received questions ranging from the basics to more subjective and detailed queries.

We thought it might be helpful to share this with you on an open platform – that you can refer to for help.


Here’s what we found out:

What is the 11+ exam?

The most common question of all.

A lot of parents have been informed that to obtain a place at a Grammar school their child must complete an entrance exam. But they are not frequently told what this is called or what it covers.

The 11+ exam is the entrance exam for your child’s eligibility for grammar school.

Included in this are two papers: one on Maths or Numerical Reasoning (25%) and Non-Verbal Reasoning (25%), and another one on English/Verbal Reasoning (50%).  This exam takes place in September every year and you must register in year five to sit this at the end of the year or beginning of year six.

This is called the CEM paper. 

This paper is specifically used by Grammar Schools in Birmingham, Warwickshire, Walsall, and Wolverhampton to help enable children to demonstrate their academic ability. Each paper is age-standardized for fairness.

What score do you need to pass the 11+ test?

The qualifying score is 205 to be able to apply, each school has its own priority score for entry.

We do not know how they qualify, nor do we know the score or what percentage you need to pass. However, as an educated guess we would say about 75% to pass.Test

What is the difference between the GL and CEM exam?

Different areas use different examining boards. The GL (Grenda Learning) past papers are available. The CEM (Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring) do not release past papers to enable the exam to be a fair more middling process.

It is also important to note that the CEM paper is closer to the National Curriculum and has more comprehension.

The final question we received was very interesting: 

What are the benefits of Grammar School Education?

Put simply, Grammar school education is at the same level as a private independent school but it’s FREE.

A Grammar school is completely state-funded.

The classes are smaller and everyone is eager to learn. It has also been noted that because grammar pupils are generally of the same ability, the teachers are able to progress lessons more effectively than at a comprehensive level. As such, grammar schools tend to be high achieving and top schools in the league.

All the Grammar schools in Birmingham have received an Ofsted Outstanding report and have consistently strong exam results.

Not sure which Grammar School is for your child? Have a read of one of our blogs to help https://www.smart11plus.co.uk/finding-best-birmingham-grammar-school/

If you are interested in inquiring about how we can help your child with their 11+ exam, please email learn@smart11plus.co.uk.