About 11 Plus Subjects

There can be up to four different “disciplines” used for the 11 Plus tests – Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning, Maths and English. The combination of test papers varies considerably around the country.

In Kent, children take 4 papers – in English, Maths, Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning, while in Buckinghamshire the children sit two papers in the single discipline of Verbal Reasoning.

Verbal Reasoning

This involves the child thinking about words and text and solving problems, sequences etc. It requires the student to have a good grasp of English grammar and a wide vocabulary. Also it tests your ability to think logically about words.

To put it simply then Verbal reasoning is about thinking with words. As the name indicates, it’s a form of questions based around words and language. It involves thinking about text, solving word problems, following written instructions to come up with a solution, spotting letter sequences and cracking letter- and number-based codes. Verbal reasoning exams are intended to test a child’s ability to understand and reason using words, and are a test of skill, rather than of learned knowledge. This subject assesses a child’s potential for critical thinking, problem-solving and ultimately, intelligence.

Non-verbal Reasoning

Many grammar schools also use non-verbal reasoning tests. This involves the child thinking about pictures and diagrams, and solving problems based on these items, it also makes demand on the child's mathematical capabilities. However, it makes less demand on the understanding of written language.

Non-verbal reasoning tests are designed to see how your child can use critical thinking and logic to solve problems and are an indication of their mathematical capabilities and powers of deduction. The exams based on this subject assess a child’s potential and intelligence, rather than their learned ability.


Mathematics as a subject in 11 plus exams consists of a curriculum of year 5 and year 6 of national curriculum. Most of the first stage exams are MCQ (Multiple Choice Questions) based and expect a good calculation speed with greater accuracy. Second stage normally observes the pattern of SATs style questions and can have more challenging questions. Worded problems have been the pattern now a days and puzzle-based questions have also made their appearance recently.


11 Plus English exams will generally assess a student on at least some of the following elements:

  • Spelling
  • Punctuation
  • Grammar
  • Vocabulary
  • Synonyms and antonyms
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Creative writing

Now a days, the exams have been using little different type of questions such as structuring the sentences, syllogism etc. Most of the exams are multiple choice question based and second stage exams consist of creative writing and challenging reading comprehension.