What Is The Pass Mark For 11 Plus?

PUBLISHED: September 18, 2020

 UPDATED: October 21, 2020

What Is The Pass Mark For 11 Plus?

If you are planning to send your child to a grammar school, you've likely explored the infamous 11+ exams, and like many parents, you may have also struggled to understand the pass mark requirements as well as how they score the tests.

You certainly aren't alone.

Thousands of parents across the country are finding it difficult to understand their child's score and since there are no clear rules on how the test results work - at least not rules that us as parents can understand, there has understandably been uproar.

In this guide, we want to make it easy for parents to understand what is the pass mark for 11 plus is for these crucial and often, life-changing tests and give you some advice on preparing your child for what will undoubtedly be, one of the most important things they ever do.

What Is The Pass Mark For 11 Plus Exam?

The pass mark for 11 plus varies significantly throughout the country year to year. The pass mark for the 11 plus is 80 per cent. The percentage of children who reach the pass mark for 11 plus differs considerably throughout the country. However, taking all of these things into account, it is safe to say that percentage pass mark for 11 plus test falls at around 80%, with some areas shifting the average up to 85%.

We know that you will be rooting for your child to be in that 80% who we know will pass the exams, but things may not be as simple as they first appear. 

The percentage of children who reach the pass mark for 11+ varies significantly throughout the country. The results in Staffordshire, for example, maybe vastly different from those in Norfolk.

One of the main things to keep in mind is that some areas of the country that are home to more grammar schools will have a less strict entry requirement; therefore, the pass mark will be lower. 

However, in areas like London, which do not have as many spaces for children going to grammar school, it will be much more challenging to get in due to a higher pass mark.

However, taking all of these things into account, it's safe to say that percentage pass mark for 11+ tests falls at around 80%, with some areas shifting the average up to 85%.

In terms of the standardised score, this will, once again vary on the location and the individual school. In Birmingham, for example, there is no set requirement for the pass mark, and each school will admit the pupils who achieved the highest scores.

However, move down the country into Buckinghamshire, and the grammar schools are much more difficult to get into with the average pass mark for schools in this area sitting at 121. When you consider that the best score is thought to be around 140, you begin to appreciate how competitive things can be.

Before we jump into further details like how the 11 plus score calculatedwhat is your child's 11 plus score means and how to pass the 11 plus exam etc., we need to know what is the 11 plus exam in detail.

Most of you think you know what is the 11 plus exam, but the information is changing rapidly in this space, so make yourself read the up-to-date information we provide down below.

what Are 11 Plus Exams?

As its name suggests, the 11+ exam is an examination that is taken by some 11-year-old students across the United Kingdom. At this age, families will need to select a secondary school for their child as they are about to finish their primary school, and some parents decide to enter them into a grammar school.

These selective schools and any others that require academic selection will use the results of the 11+ test to determine whether the educational facility is right for the student.

Many parents, and children, have their hearts set on a particular grammar school, and it can be devastating if the child fails in their pre-admission tests.

However, by understanding what is required of your child and how they can be best prepared for the grammar school places, chances of success drastically raised.

It's essential to keep in mind that this could be a stressful time for your child and whilst many of us adults might think we have all the answers, many parents are not able to answer the most common 11 plus questions themselves. 

54% is the average score for a parent, so without adequate coaching and preparation, how can we expect our children to thrive in the exam?


2000 parents took the 11 plus test, the average score was 54 per cent.

Parents Average Score

Pass mark for the 11 plus exam is 80 per cent and above.

Parents scored


Required score


Some London schools


Source: A test arranged by tuition provider Explore Learning

Refer this table in your content? Grab the link: https://gogrammarschool.com/what-is-the-pass-mark-for-11-plus/#pas

The issue isn't that the test is incredibly difficult - most children will have covered the topics within their recent school years, and those that are particularly academically gifted would likely find the questions very manageable.

The problem arises when parents are attempting to coach their kids for the test but simply do not have, or cannot remember from their school days, the relevant knowledge to understand or solve the questions.

In terms of subject matter, the exams cover English, mathematics and both verbal and non-verbal reasoning, although this may vary depending on where you are in the country.

Although the 11 plus exam framework and pattern varies between different parts of the country, the exam will test the skill level from the following subjects.

  • Maths
  • English
  • Verbal reasoning
  • Non-verbal reasoning

Although there are 4 subjects to learn the test mainly divided into 3 disciplines

  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Numerical Reasoning
  • Non-verbal Reasoning

There are two boards that conduct the 11 plus exams in this country.

  • CEM (The Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring)
  • GL (Granada Learning)

There are two formats in the 11 plus exams and two boards (both CEM and GL) use one of the following format to test your child.

  • Standard format – children write answers on the test paper
  • Multiple-choice format – children marked answers in a separate answer booklet

I took pains to go through and assimilate the information for you in the table below.

  • CEM

  • GL Format

11 Plus - CEM Exam Format
Which subjects are covered CEM Exam Format?

Verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning and numerical reasoning

What skills are covered in CEM Exam Format?
  • English
  • Comprehension
  • Vocabulary
  • Spelling
  • Maths



English (Verbal reasoning)


Maths (Numerical reasoning)


Non-verbal reasoning


How 11 plus score calculated?

The method used when scoring the 11 plus exams is called standardisation, but when it comes to being able to understand this process, it is anything other than what its name may hint towards - standard. A lot of parents struggle to know how this works, so let's break it down.

Standardisation is a marking process that is used as a way of ensuring that each child who takes the test will be marked equally and any variables are removed.

Standardisation uses a variety of factors to determine the final pass mark for the 11 plus tests, and this will include the age of the child, how many papers they sat and the difficulty of it. 

For example, if the pass mark is always 120 for a maths exam, each year, the test must be of the same difficulty level to ensure consistency.

The raw score that your child gets is how many answers were correctly given - for example, 20 out of 30. 

However, many examining bodies do not tell you the raw score, so it can be more challenging to understand the final result. This issue is something that, as we have seen earlier on, is plaguing parents who are attempting to make sense of the entire process.

The raw score is compared to the age of the child sitting the exam, and using a table system, and a score is given.

What Does My Child's 11 plus score means?

Many parents are interested to know what percentage of pupils pass the 11 plus exams, and it may come as a surprise that as many as 80% of kids breeze through the tests with a good pass mark that allows them to apply for a grammar school of their choice.

It is worth keeping in mind that if your child does pass their 11+ tests that this does not give you automatic admission into the secondary school.

In contrast, your child may not have reached the required pass mark, but there is a chance to appeal this decision and obtain a place at your selected school.
The best way to determine how you will move forward is by talking through your options with the local school admissions team.

How to register for 11 plus exams?

If you would like to register your child to take the 11+ test, there is a process that must be followed to do so. But this isn't as complicated as you might first imagine. Whilst the pass mark may be a nightmare to understand, beginning the process is a lot simpler.

You first of all need to be clear on which school you would like your child to attend, you can, of course, choose more than one potential option but knowing the school will allow you to know their pass mark.

Once you are happy with your choices, you can then go on to register your child to take the test. It is worth keeping in mind that in some areas of the country, registration opens in the earlier part of the year, around May but again, this can vary so you should check with your local authority.

You can arrange for a test date through this authority, and many have the option to do this via email.

Preparing Your Child For The 11+ Exam

If you took the 11+ exams yourself as a child, you would likely appreciate how intimidating this can be for your child, and even if you didn't, we're sure that you have been through some sort of exam and felt the pressure.

If you want your child to succeed in their studies, it pays to begin working with them as early as possible, arming them with the knowledge and confidence that they will need to ace the test. 

In some cases, you may be able to tutor them yourself, but there is certainly no shame in bringing in a specialist tutor who can guide your child through their revision.

Furthermore, thanks to the intense competition that getting into a grammar school involves, a professional tutor can often give your child the edge.

But getting them ready for the big day takes more than just a tutor. It pays to create a study schedule, and whilst you may feel that this is quite harsh for a young child, this is a surefire way to help them get the best out of their education. And it needn't be too invasive.

Look at their current activities - school, extra-curricular activities, socialising and downtime and try to fit a manageable study session around this. 

The last thing that you want to do is to overwhelm your child as this will likely remove any passion they have for sitting the test and will ultimately result in failure.

Be sure to put a focus on every aspect of the test. Even if your child excels in English but struggles with non-verbal reasoning, you shouldn't omit the English revision. 

Place a more detailed focus on the areas that they need more practice in whilst dropping in snippets of study for those that they are good at.

Preparing your child for what to expect in the exam is also an essential part of getting them ready, and you should be aware that the 11+ tests are made up from two main question types - multiple-choice and standard. 

The standard question will require your child to provide a written answer whereas the multiple-choice offers a selection of answers, from which the pupil must select the correct one.

It pays to let your child practise answering both of these formats and whilst many parents may deem multiple-choice to be relatively simple, the pressure and young age of the child may make this more complicated than you might think.

There is a wealth of practise papers for the 11+ tests online which will give your child a feel for what they will be presented with on test day. However, it might also be beneficial to interact with other families whose children are doing or have done the test.

Above all else, you must manage your child's stress levels since it is no secret that not doing so can result in a drastically reduced mark but, more importantly, a negative impact on the mental health of the child - there's no point in them having a place at an excellent school if they cannot be there to enjoy it through stress or other factors. 

It is becoming more and more apparent that the stress of school can lead to severe consequences, including depression. This may sound morbid, but it can be avoided by short bursts of study, as little pressure as possible and unwavering support of the child as they go through the first vital exams of their life.


Many British parents are striving to get their children into a good grammar school as a way of boosting their education and giving them the best start in life, and this is excellent news.

However, with the mass confusion over pass marks for the 11+ exams, parents are finding themselves more and more overwhelmed every year.

Whilst there is no clear cut pass mark for these tests, it does help to know that your local area and the schools within it will provide a required pass mark which is then something that you and your child can work towards achieving, together.

To appreciate how difficult it is to pass the 11 plus exam, we assembled a small quiz for parents with just 5 sample questions from the 11 plus test. Please try it and let us know your 11 plus score honestly in the comments.

Send this quiz link to your spouse or friend & see how well they do


11 Plus Parents Quiz

Could you answer questions in an 11+ exam? Take the test here

Send this quiz link to your spouse or friend & see how well they do


About the author 

Narendra Mandadapu

I started this website to help moms and pops who need a direction to guide their little ones to pass the 11-plus. A few years back, I was exactly in your position and running around like a headless chicken. I firmly believe 11 Plus Preparation Is For Life, not a gateway to Grammar School. I am NOT a genius, but I can see things from a different perspective which helped my son to pass the 11-plus. Since then, I helped hundreds of parents. Fasten your seatbelt as principles taught here would propel your kiddos to the next generation of cutting edge creative Hogwarts rather than an army of 9-5 battalion. Are you ready for the magic?




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