A Beginner’s Guide To The 11 Plus – Kent, Medway and Gravesend Edition
Chapter 3: The 11 Plus in Kent and Medway
The Kent 11 Plus Tests
Content of the Tests And Format
The Kent Test involves two exam papers. Both exams are one hour long. There’s also a 40-minute writing exercise which is used to assess a child’s abilities in cases where their marks are on the borderline for acceptance into a grammar school.
- One paper involves English and maths questions in multiple choice format. Both the English and maths sections involve a 5-minute practice exercise and a 25-minute test. In the English section, children are tested on their literacy skills and their reading comprehension.
- The other paper involves a combination of multiple choice, verbal and non-verbal reasoning questions.
Kent County Council has a “familiarisation booklet” that you can download from their website. It’s a good idea to download a copy of the booklet so that you and your child can get a better idea of what to expect.
When your child sits the Kent Test, an invigilator will be there to guide the pupils through the tests. Listening carefully to the invigilator’s instructions is important since the format of the test means that some pages will instruct the students to stop working and not turn to the next page until the invigilator tells them to.
The three sections of the reasoning paper test pupils on different skills:
- Verbal reasoning: the ability to think in words and symbols
- Non-verbal reasoning: the ability to think about relationships between patterns and shapes
- Spatial reasoning: the ability to handle concepts of shape and space mentally
There are practice exercises that the invigilator will go through before each section. The type of questions that students are asked to answer in the reasoning paper can be seen in the screenshots below:
English and Maths Test
Children are tested on their English and maths skills (or literacy and numeracy), and the questions are multiple choice. The English section tests students’ understanding of word meanings and their comprehension of passages of writing.
With the maths section, the questions are also multiple choice. They test pupils’ knowledge of maths skills taught up to the beginning of Year 6. However, you should prepare your child for the questions to be more complex or difficult than the questions they’re used to answering in school. Here are some examples of the kinds of questions asked:
The answer sheet for the Kent Test papers looks like the screenshot below. One important piece of advice you should share with your child is the importance of making sure that they’re marking their answers in the boxes for the right question. This is something they’ll need to double check to make sure that they don’t fail the test because they marked their answers in the wrong question boxes!
Areas of Importance
It’s important to know that, due to the way the scores are calculated for the Kent test, not all aspects of the test are equally important.
Students should still be placing more of an emphasis on maths and English than anything else and an equal balance between non verbal and verbal reasoning. This hierarchy of importance is shown in the image below.
Which Schools are Covered by the Kent Test
The Kent Test, or Kent 11+ test is used by most of the grammar schools in the Kent area. There are 35 wholly selective and 4 partially selective grammar schools, and if you’re unsure whether the grammar school you’re looking at uses the Kent Test, you can find a handy list here.
Gravesend Grammar School and Mayfield Grammar School (the two grammar schools in Gravesend) are both covered by the Kent Test. Both Gravesend grammar schools require a ‘normal pass’ rather than the super selective passes required by the Dartford grammar schools.
Mayfield Grammar also have their own (optional) entry test which students can sit. This is covered in further detail in chapter 5.
Process for the Kent Test
Children take the Kent Test at the beginning of Year 6, generally during the first couple of weeks of September. Every year, between 14,000 and 17,000 Year 6 pupils take the test – and this number is far greater than the number of places available.
If you want your child to take the Kent Test, you’ll need to register by the beginning of July for the test that is taken in September. Results from the Kent Test are usually released during the second week in October.
The Medway 11 Plus Tests
Medway Tests are specifically written for Medway Council, with the aim of selecting the top 23% of applicants for grammar school places. In 2017, Medway Council moved away from using GL Assessment, and now exam papers are produced by CEM.
Content of the Tests and Format
There are three sections to the Medway Test:
- Verbal Reasoning – 50 minutes, all multiple choice
- Mathematics – 50 minutes, all multiple choice
- Writing – 40 minutes (with an extra 10 minutes for planning)
You need to bear in mind that the maths and writing sections of the test are double weighted – meaning they’re twice as important as the verbal reasoning questions.
Verbal Reasoning Paper
Although the verbal reasoning part of the Medway Test isn’t weighted as heavily as the other parts of the test, verbal reasoning is more difficult to prepare for. Practice papers can help with this, but it’s also important to remember that building vocabulary is vital for verbal reasoning success, particularly in the Medway test.
In the Medway Test, verbal reasoning includes comprehension (in the Kent Test, comprehension is part of the English paper). An example of the kinds of questions your child may be asked to answer is below.
The maths section of the Medway Test is split into sections that are timed – although the exact timings and number of questions can vary from year to year. An example of the types of questions your child may be asked to answer is below:
For multiple choice questions, there’s an answer sheet that looks similar to this:
It’s a good idea to ensure that your child is familiar with this kind of answer sheet to avoid marking answers in the wrong boxes when sitting the test.
The writing task that is part of the Medway Test requires your child to choose a topic and write for 40 minutes. For example, there may be choices similar to these:
- Write a story about finding a hidden tunnel beneath your house
- Write a letter to a friend, with the aim of persuading them to join you on a special trip
- Write an essay with the title: ‘Do children get too much screen time?’
Which Schools are Covered by the Medway Test
There are six selective grammar schools and one bilateral grammar school that use the Medway Test, with just over 1,000 places available for students. It’s hugely competitive.
Process for the Medway Test
Applications for the Medway Test can be made during the month of June, and tests are usually taken, at your child’s primary school, in mid-September. Results are available from the second week in October. If your child passes the test, you can then apply to be considered for a grammar school place.
Until recently, it was possible to sit the Medway Test late if, for example, you had recently relocated to Medway. Now, however, late applicants are not able to be considered for Medway grammar school places. If you miss the application cut-off date (the middle of July, in exceptional circumstances), then your child cannot sit the test or be considered for a selective place.