11+ Common Entrance Examination Training

Another test taken in the final year of primary school is the 11+ Common Entrance Examinations.The 11+ Common Entrance Examinations are formulated by the CEM or GL boards mainly (ISEB) and taken mainly by children for entrance to senior schools at age 11+.

The 11+ Common Entrance Examinations consists of four sections on which students are tested:

  • English
  • Maths
  • Verbal reasoning (solving logical problems)
  • Non-verbal reasoning (solving pictorial problems)


The English paper has three sections: comprehension, punctuation and spelling.


The most important strategy is to read and analyse the questions first. Traditionally, students are taught to read the text first with the premise that if you don’t read the text first, you will not fully know the underlying context to answer the questions. You will read the text without any insight into what you actually need to find to form a proper answer. Hence, being informed right from the outset is the key to an attempt that is successful in comprehensions.


It is vitally important to consider that in spelling exercises, you should try to ignore the context of the sentence because it subconsciously puts extra burden on your mind. An effective technique is to read the sentence backwards word by word to locate the misspelt word and to ignore the context of the sentence altogether.

You can couple this technique with phonetics. If you break down the word into phonetics, you will have a better chance at observing whether the word is spelt right or not.

Lastly, you should now use the systemic check to arrive at the correct spelling. In this method, you have to place in all the letter combinations one by one and see if they make sense to you. This might be exhausting but it’s important to ensure the right answer through method.


The best way to solve punctuation exercises is the opposite method of spelling so as to ensure the right order of the punctuations. To understand where the right punctuation goes, you must understand the need and the intention of the sentence and its phrases. So make sure to first take in the deeper meaning of the sentence; a good way to do this is to imagine yourself writing the sentence and thinking where you would add punctuations. The feel of the sentence will, in this way, guide you to rule out any irrelevant punctuations.

Phonetics are also a necessary step to understand the punctuations. You should silently and slowly read the sentence and pay attention to each word, phrase and clause (in that order). This will ensure that you cover most of the possible meanings the sentences could have. You have to look for any points where a punctuation symbol might block the flow of the sentence. Similarly, if the sentence is long with lots of different word classes, it most likely needs to be broken down with a full stop, comma or a semi-colon!


The 11+ requires knowledge of maths of the standard curriculum of Year 6 and further beyond. It covers topics such as fractions, decimals and percentages (FDPs), geometry, stats, problem solving, measurement and basic algebra.

In Numbers, the student should be able to quickly remember the methods of basic arithmetic, especially multiplication. The goal is to solve with accuracy and speed through extensive practice of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Additionally, decimal and negative number operations knowledge is required. Students are also expected to be able to identify prime numbers, squares and factors.

In Geometry, students should have the ability to quickly identify polygons and quadrilaterals including interior angle sums and parallel sides. They should be able to visualize how shapes would reflect along diagonal mirror lines as well as rotations. You may also be asked about coordinates in all four quadrants at a basic level.

In FDP, students need to be able to perform conversion between fractions, decimals and percentages and utilise each to solve a wide range of relevant problems. They can also expect problems with backward fractions and percentages.

In Statistics, students need the ability to solve real-life problems from the given tables, graphs and charts. They should be able to assess the given data and model a solution using pie charts and tables.

In Ratios, students need to have the ability to ratio relation problems. Their concepts of ratio conversion should be clear and they should be able to model the solution to the common ratio problems such as maps and scale models and speed distance and time questions. In measurement, there are a wide range on conversions between measurements, metric-imperial unit conversions and time and calendar problems.

In problem solving, a variety of questions can be expected which may or may not be from the above list of topics. The method of solution should follow understanding the given data and information carefully and producing solution through a systematic way i.e. a logical sequence of steps.

Finally, students should also practise basic algebra including nth term sequences, solving simple algebraic expressions, simultaneous equations and solving basic algebraic equations involving one or two steps.


Verbal Reasoning almost entirely dependent on a child’s vocabulary and use of words. Hence, it is best to focus on the important of reading. Students with weak vocabulary usually struggle on this paper.

The exercises that are expected in VR are: missing letters, synonyms, antonyms, sum completion, letter-number codes, word combinations, double meanings, moving letters, word constructions, hidden words and word analogies.

It is vital that students familiarise themselves extensively with these exercises so that there is no confusion on the test day.


In Non-Verbal Reasoning, students should be able to understand mathematical terms that are used to refer to shapes, directions, rotations of shapes and positions. An important technique is to use the process of elimination to arrive at the right answer when attempting relatively tricky questions. This is done by ruling out the patterns which do not make sense instead of focusing on the problem shape. Following exercises are common and usually appear in various variations: spot the difference, odd one out, related shapes, shape sequences, code sequences, code pairs.

It is vital that students familiarise themselves extensively with these exercises so that there is no confusion on the test day.

How we can help?

Preparing children for Common Entrance Examinations is what we do proficiently. We will prepare your child by equipping them with age-appropriate skills and subject knowledge to improve their ability and strengthen their confidence to apply, evaluate, interpret and analyse what they have learned.