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Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools 11 plus: a parents’ guide for 2022

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Buckinghamshire 11 Plus: A Parents' Guide for 2022

Looking for a guide to help navigate the Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools 11 plus test for 2022? We’ve collated all the up-to-date information on the testing process, question styles, and how best to prepare your child for the exam.

The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools 11 plus test: at a glance

  • Registration opens: 6th May 2022

  • Registration closes: 24th June 2022

  • Exam date: September 2022

  • Exam board type: GL Assessment

  • Results: October 2022

  • National school offer day: 1st March 2023 (or next working day)

  • Admissions information: Buckinghamshire Council School Admissions

  • Appeals: undertaken by an independent appeal panel established for that school

Which schools use the Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools 11 plus test?

What is the Buckinghamshire 11 plus test?

The 13 grammar schools in Buckinghamshire admit pupils based on their performance in the Buckinghamshire 11 plus test, taken in the September of Year 6. Each of the grammar schools in Buckinghamshire are academies, so they are their own admission authorities. However, for the purpose of the 11 plus test, they work together as a consortium known as The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools (TBGS), so there is only one test for all the schools. The Local Authority administers the test on behalf of the schools, more information can be found on TBGS website or the Buckinghamshire County Council website.

Buckinghamshire’s 11 plus registration process is unique: they operate an ‘opt-out’ system. If your child attends a Buckinghamshire primary school, your child will be automatically registered for the 11 plus test, unless you specifically request for them not to. If your child doesn’t attend a Buckinghamshire primary school, there are different registration requirements: find out if your child will be automatically registered here.

Your child will be given the opportunity to sit a shorter, unmarked practice test to help familiarise them with the structure, usually the week before the formal test. Both the practice and formal tests are taken at your child’s current primary school. If your child’s primary school is not in Buckinghamshire, they will be invited to one of the grammar schools to sit the tests.

What is covered in the Buckinghamshire 11 plus test?

The Buckinghamshire 11 plus consists of 3 sections split across 2 papers. Each paper takes approximately 60 minutes, including time for instructions and practice questions.

The 2 papers are multiple-choice format, with a separate answer booklet and question paper. The answer booklet is the only paper to be marked, any working out in the question booklet will not be marked. The test assesses your child in 3 key areas: verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning and maths.

Verbal reasoning

Technical English and verbal reasoning make up the first paper. Your child will encounter a reading comprehension task with a passage of text and related questions. These questions will test your child’s understanding of the text itself as well as the vocabulary choice, punctuation and spelling competency, and grammatical knowledge.

The verbal reasoning part of this paper follows 21 known GL question styles. It’s a good idea to familiarise your child with these question styles as they remain the same each year, with only the content changing. You can find more advice on how to prepare for verbal reasoning questions here.

Non-verbal reasoning

Non-verbal reasoning makes up the first section of paper 2. It assesses your child’s mathematical and scientific skills, relying on strong problem solving and spatial awareness. Your child is given a set of graphic puzzles and sequences and they must highlight areas of mistake as well as complete the patterns. These question styles are not taught at school, so home preparation is key. To learn more about how to master these questions, see our video on non-verbal reasoning.


The final section of paper 2 tests your child’s knowledge of all Key Stage 2 national curriculum maths content. This includes Year 6 concepts such as ratio, percentages, and algebra that your child will not yet have encountered in the classroom – so again, home preparation is key. Practice with arithmetic and problem-solving questions, rapid recall of number facts, and written calculation, will give your child a good foundation to perform well in this section.

Buckinghamshire mock tests on Atom Nucleus

Atom has Mock Tests that mirror the style and format of the Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools 11 plus – so your child will know exactly what to expect on exam day.

What is the pass mark for the Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools 11 plus test?

The 3 sections are weighted as follows:

  • Verbal reasoning 50%

  • Non-verbal reasoning 25%

  • Maths 25%

The total of all raw scores from each section are standardised to avoid any potential disadvantage for age differences, giving your child their Secondary Transfer Test Score (STTS). If your child scores above 121 marks, they will be eligible for grammar school entry. Unlike other Local Authorities, Buckinghamshire does not rank the scores.

However, passing the 11 plus does not guarantee a place at your target school. You will need to apply to your target schools via the Local Authority Common Application Form (CAF) by the end of October 2022. For children who have met the qualifying score of 121, the grammar schools will offer places depending on their own priority criteria.

How competitive is the Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools 11 plus test?

Due to the opt-out system in place, Buckinghamshire 11 plus test has a huge number of candidates per year. There are more children who reach the qualifying standard than places available, meaning the grammar schools are often oversubscribed. Approximately 37% of those who sit the exam will achieve the qualifying score.

Appeal success rates are low, but you can opt for a selection review if your child’s test score did not qualify. There is the option of an independent admission appeal, although it’s worth noting there is a cost involved with requesting a paper remark.

When should I begin preparing my child for the Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools 11 plus?

To give your child enough time to securely master all the content needed for the 11 plus, a good time to begin preparing is summer term of Year 4 or autumn term of Year 5. This will allow your child to become confident and familiar with the testing process and styles of questions they will encounter.

The Buckinghamshire 11 plus is designed to be academically challenging for children who are working above age-related expectations. If your child is not yet exceeding age-related expectations, it is helpful to start earlier and build their understanding of the core curriculum, before progressing onto exam preparation.

How can I help my child prepare for the Buckinghamshire 11 plus test 2022?

No surprises: make sure your child is familiar with all styles of questions they will experience in the test. This reduces the potential for panic on the day and will give them confidence to answer the questions to the best of their ability.

If your child attends a Buckinghamshire primary school, they will be sent a small sample of familiarisation papers to your home address in the summer term of Year 5 for them to practise. However, access to unlimited practice materials and mock tests that mirror the format and style of the Buckinghamshire 11 plus will ensure your child is fully prepared.

Develop their vocabulary: the technical English and verbal reasoning sections rely on a depth and breadth of vocabulary knowledge, which may include the names of unusual objects or descriptions. Reading for pleasure is a great way to support your child's development in these areas. Get free resources for engaging your child with reading here.

Tailor their learning journey: setting regular goals and celebrating achievements will help your child progress efficiently. Atom's Parent Portal offers data-driven insights into your child’s progress towards mastering the Buckinghamshire 11 plus content. Our adaptive algorithm tailors their learning journey and makes it easy to see where they need to focus next.

Overall progress and targets achieved:

See progress and targets achieved on Atom's Parent Portal

A detailed breakdown of progress by subtopic, compared to the average student in their year:

See a detailed breakdown of progress on Atom's Parent Portal

Your child's personalised learning journey progress:

See your child's detailed learning journey progress on Atom's Parent Portal

Set Custom Practices to target your child's most challenging subtopics, with functions to personalise timings and question types:

Setting a Custom Practice for your child on Atom's Parent Portal

Start your free 5-day trial today to learn more about how Atom can empower your child to sit the 11 plus with confidence.

We know how crucial this time is, so our team is on hand to support you and your family every step of the way. You can book a call with one of our Education Experts to ask any questions you may have about the Buckinghamshire 11 plus:

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