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What is the 11+?

On this page you will find information on:

* What the 11+ is

* A list of the Grammar Schools in the Birmingham Consortium

* Details of fee-paying independent schools with 11+ entry

* A rough timeline for 11+ preparation

* Information on how to apply for the Grammar School of your choice(s), and how this affects applications for non-Grammar state schools should your child not pass the entrance examinations.

NB:  The entrance tests for 2023 entry in the Birmingham Consortium were held on Saturday 17 September 2022.



The 11+ is a selective entrance examination for secondary school, used by both state-funded grammar schools and many private schools to identify the most academically-able children. The exam is taken towards the end of Year 5 or the beginning of Year 6 of primary school.  

The 11+ is still used in the following counties which have state-funded grammar schools: Berkshire, Bexley, Birmingham, Buckinghamshire, Cumbria, Devon, Dorset, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Medway, Shropshire, Trafford, Wiltshire, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wirral, Wolverhampton and Yorkshire.

Northern Irish grammar schools use the Northern Ireland Transfer Test.

There are currently two main exam boards for the 11+ exam: CEM (Durham University) and GL Assessment. Which exam board will be used usually depends on the location of your chosen grammar school. However, this is changing imminently, as CEM has decided to stop offering 11+ tests from September 2023.  Year 5 students looking to take the 11+ this academic year will take their test according to their regions below:

  • GL Assessment: Birmingham, Dorset, Kent, Lancashire & Cumbria, Lincolnshire, Medway, Northern Ireland, Wiltshire.

  • CEM: Berkshire, Bexley, Buckinghamshire, Devon, Gloucestershire, Shropshire, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wirral, Wolverhampton.  

  • GL and CEM: Devon, Essex, Hertfordshire, Trafford, Yorkshire



There are eight Grammar Schools in the Birmingham region. These eight schools belong to a ‘consortium’ for the Birmingham region and there is just one exam for children wishing to attend any one of the schools in the group.  It is worth noting that the schools of the King Edward VI Foundation have now introduced catchment areas - please check each school's policy according to where you live.


Testing takes place on on Saturday in early September, for example, the entrance tests for 2023 entry were held on Saturday 17th September 2022 (or Sunday 18th September 2022 for followers of the Jewish and Seven Heavens faiths, who object to Saturday testing) and is expected to be around the same date in 2023 for 2024 entry. It is usual that two sessions will be held (AM and PM) and you should  plan to keep the whole of your day free in this case. If the test is held over two sessions, your child will be allocated to a session and you will receive confirmation of this in early September. - it is worth remembering that your child may not be sitting the entrance examination in the school of your choice, but that this bears no relation to whether or not your child is eventually accepted into your chosen institution.


What is the format of the 2022/23 September 11+ exam in Birmingham?

  • The test is provided by GL Assessment.

  • Candidates will sit 2 papers, each approximately 60 minutes long (which includes time for instructions and example questions).

  • Each test paper is divided into smaller individually timed sections that test English Comprehension, Verbal Reasoning, Mathematics and Non-Verbal/Spatial Reasoning.

  • Weighting is 50% for verbal ability, 25% for numerical ability 25% for non-verbal ability.

  • Each paper is approximately 60 minutes in duration and will be divided into timed sections, and instructions will be given on an audio soundtrack. Most questions are multiple choice and all answers are marked on a separate machine-readable answer sheet. There will be a short break between the two test papers.

  • The NVR section is now likely to contain: 3D building blocks , nets and cubes, 3D rotations and other new types previously not seen in CEM papers.

  • All questions are multiple choice and children record their answers on a separate answer sheet.

  • The scores for each section are standardised to take into account differences in age, meaning younger children are not disadvantaged compared to children in the same cohort who could be almost a year older.


The test provided by CEM is made up of two papers, each approximately 50 minutes long. Each test paper is divided into smaller individual sections that test verbal ability (reading & comprehension and literacy skills), non-verbal ability and mathematics. There are no sections of writing within the test - all questions are multiple choice (with the exception of one maths section which does not offer candidates a choice of answers - see the familiarisation examples at the bottom of this page) and children record their answers on a separate answer sheet. The scores for each section are standardised to take into account differences in age, meaning younger children are not disadvantaged compared to children in the same cohort who could be almost a year older.



King Edward's School Birmingham


A boys only fee-paying option, located next to the University of Birmingham and sharing its 50-acre grounds with its sister school, King Edward VI High School for Girls. It has 25 assisted places for Year 7 entry, about 10 of which are free.  Scholarships are available.  

King Edward VI High School for Girls


A girls only fee-paying option, located next to the University of Birmingham and sharing its 50-acre grounds with its sister school, King Edward's School Birmingham. It has around 96 places for Year 7 entry.  Means-tested assisted places and discretionary Scholarships are available.

Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School


Located in Sutton Coldfield, it is a boys only Grammar School with 192 places for year 7 entry.


King Edward VI Aston School


Located in the Aston area, this is another boys only Grammar option. There are 120 places available each year for year 7 entry.


King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys


A boys only Grammar School in the Kings Heath area of Birmingham. There are 120 year 7 places available each year.

King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls 


Located in Kings Heath, close to Camp Hill School for Boys and has 150 year 7 places. This is a girls only Grammar option.

King Edward VI Five Ways School 


A mixed Grammar School. There are 180 places for year 7 girls and boys.


King Edward VI Handsworth School for Boys


Has 150 places per year 7 intake. It is a boys only Grammar School.

King Edward VI Handsworth School for Girls


Has 150 places per for year 7 intake. It is a girls only Grammar School.



Sutton Coldfield Grammar School for Girls


A girls only Grammar school with 180 places each September for year 7 entry.

The Birmingham Consortium Grammar Schools

Private / Fee Paying Schools

11+ Timeline

The Birmingham Grammar School Consortium explicitly states that "intensive coaching or tuition is not in the long term best interests of your child.  The Grammar Schools in Birmingham is in no way connected to, nor does it endorse or recommend, the services of any organisation or agency purporting to offer tuition and/or revision courses for children to assist in preparing them for school entrance tests". 


And this is the conundrum... yes, we understand that children should be getting places at Grammar Schools if they have natural abilities.  BUT there are only a handful of places at these schools compared with the number of students hoping for places - and very few of these students taking the tests will not have had tuition beforehand.  At Mrs BC's Tutor Room, our aim is not to 'cram' information, or 'drum in skills' that will be needed to pass a test only to leave a student floundering and out of their depth once they get to the school itself.  Instead, our aim is to teach skills that will set them up for their life at Grammar School (should they pass the entrance exams).  11+ tutoring can, of course, help with some of the basics if your child is struggling, but our main focus will be on developing the unique yet transferrable skills required for these tests - your child will not be learning simply to pass a test, but will be gaining skills necessary for life-long learning.

Years 1-4

It's never too early to start with the basics! Focus on phonics in the earlier years (remembering that there is currently phonics screening at the start of Year 2, and a Multiplication Tables Check (MTC screening for mathematics) in Year 4

Year 4

If you're seriously considering your child for a Grammar School place then now is the time to start.  It might seem early but entrance testing for Grammar schools requires a different skill set to those taught in schools preparing children for SATs.  Whilst there is undoubtedly some cross-over, such as in reading comprehension and mathematics, these skills need to be at a higher level than generally taught in mainstream schools.  The other areas (Verbal and Non-Verbal Problem Solving/Reasoning) is not explicitly taught in primary schools.

Year 5

At the beginning of Year 5:  Visit the schools you are interested in.  There is more than one Grammar School in the Birmingham Grammar Schools list and it may surprise you how different these settings can be.  For instance, don't be put off by a school's location (a surprisingly common reaction) - the quality of education and the educational settings themselves will more than outweigh its location!


Make, or work with me to make a 12 month revision plan to cover what is needed for these tests.

Application forms for secondary school placements are sent out at the end of Year 5.  YOU NEED TO FILL THIS IN WITH YOUR CHOSEN SCHOOLS EVEN IF YOU ARE APPLYING FOR GRAMMAR SCHOOLS - but the deadline for applications is not until October 31st, which is after entrance examination results are published.  However, if you have decided by this time that your child will not be sitting the Birmingham Grammar Schools entrance examinations, there is no reason why you cannot send in your secondary school application form when it is issued.

Year 6

September:  GRAMMAR SCHOOL TESTING TAKES PLACE AT THE START OF YEAR 6.  Remember that tests may not always be taken in the institution of your choice but that this bears no relation to later acceptance at your preferred school.

October:  Results from Grammar Schools tests are released before 31st October on a pass/fail basis.  You now need to complete the common application form.  EVEN IF YOUR CHILD HAS PASSED THE ENTRANCE EXAMINATIONS YOU WILL STILL NEED TO COMPLETE THIS APPLICATION FORM.

The deadline to apply for a secondary school place in 2023 is likely to be 31st October 2022, in line with the dates for previous years.  If you apply by this date, you will receive your child’s school offer on National Offer Day (1 March 2023).


March:  National Offers Day. You’ll be told by letter whether your child has been offered a place at your first-choice school. If your application was unsuccessful you will automatically receive details of the appeals procedure.

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