Eleven Plus Exams & Preparation In Bury | A Star Tuition Group

11 Plus & Entrance Exams

Competition for entry into grammar / independent schools is fierce! Therefore, to succeed in 11 plus & entrance exams pupils need:
A high level of Mathematics & English skills
Verbal / Non verbal reasoning skills & understanding
Good exam technique, speed & accuracy
A high level of confidence & self-belief

​​​​​​​Since 2008, A Star Tuition Group has developed an 11 Plus and entrance exam programme that is tailored for Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School (BRGS), Bury Grammar School (BGS) and Bolton School. We are extremely proud of our high success rate so you can be assured that your child is in safe hands.


We carry out an in-depth assessment to establish if grammar school is the right choice for your child. Children are given various tasks to complete including reading, comprehension, spelling, writing and mathematics. If your child achieves the right standard, we can book them a place in one of our exam preparation groups.


Pupils on the 11 plus programme attend twice per week for one hour. They work in an exam group of six pupils, all of whom are preparing for the same grammar school. As there are differences in the format of each entrance exam, this ensures that your child will be fully prepared to sit the specific exam for the grammar school they have chosen.

Our courses run for 12 to 16 months - depending on the grammar school – we recommend booking early to reserve your child’s place!


Our entrance exam classes are tailored to suit the specific grammar /independent school of your choice, however they broadly cover:

Mathematics including
arithmetic & reasoning

Reading comprehension

Vocabulary building
/ extension

Punctuation, grammar
and spelling

Verbal reasoning


Homework Is Important to us

After every lesson your child will have homework that consolidates their learning. In addition, we provide further practice materials that focus on developing core English and mathematics skills as well as improving speed and accuracy in verbal and non-verbal reasoning.


The earlier the better!
The key to success in the 11 plus is a high level of confidence and ability in core Maths and English skills. These skills will not only be tested in the exam itself, but are key to ensuring your child is able to thrive in a grammar school setting.

We know from experience this process cannot be rushed. That’s why we recommend that your child starts preparing at least 12 months before their entrance exam – at the beginning of Year 5.

Help your child Achieve Academic Advantage


The Maths curriculum is varied and vast. That’s why we include regular core Maths sessions in our programmes.

In general, the 11plus Maths test will cover topics that your child will learn up to the end of the primary school curriculum. For that reason, it’s crucial that your child has fully understood everything that they’ve learnt in the classroom so far and is prepared to learn some topics for the first time.

It is common for children to struggle with accuracy in their basic maths when they are under pressure. That’s why it is essential that their basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division skills are up to scratch.

Key concepts we cover can be split into the following broad categories:

Fractions, decimals and percentages
Handling data
Shape & space Measurement

Top Tip: Practise your times tables every day!

An English exam for Grammar or Independent School can come in a variety of formats. We tailor our course content to meet the demands of grammar schools such as BRGS, BGS and Bolton School. Therefore, our 11 plus class will broadly cover these elements:


Pupils would be given a text of around 500/750 words. These texts can vary between a classic text, modern text or a more factual text such as a report. Children will be asked questions that test their literal and interpretive comprehension skills. Frequently, a child’s knowledge of literary techniques is also tested as they are asked to identify literary devices used such as similes, metaphors and alliteration.


Children may be asked what various words in a text mean - definitions. They might also be asked to identify the specific class a word falls into e.g. verb, noun, adjective, preposition, etc. Or they might have to create a synonym or antonym for a word.
Spelling & Punctuation
Identifying spelling or punctuation errors in a given sentence or in a block of text is a common style of question grammar schools use. Sometimes pupils have to correct the error.

Writing Composition/Creative Writing

For Independent Schools like BGS or Bolton School, writing composition is nearly always included so we include plenty of practise in our 11Plus classes.

BRGS does not currently include writing composition on their entrance exam.

Top Tip: Read every day!

Verbal reasoning (VR) is almost always included in the exam papers for selective schools. It tests a combination of vocabulary knowledge, logical reasoning skills and code deciphering. Surprisingly, Maths questions such as sequences and number patterns are also tested.

For some children, despite never having seen these types of questions before, it just ‘clicks’. For those who find this more challenging, exposure and practice is key to success.

It might be worth noting a few differences between examination types:

Multiple choice GL (NFER) assessments – Used by BRGS, these examine up to 21 different verbal reasoning skills and require children to find the answer from a selection of options. For children preparing for this exam type we cover all 21 question types during our exam preparation class.

CEM exams – The question types tend not to be as clearly defined and verbal reasoning skills are commonly assessed as part of the English test or on computer. To best prepare your child we have selected the most common verbal reasoning question types that have historically appeared in CEM exams.
Top Tip: Complete a weekly wordsearch or Suduko activity!

Non-Verbal Reasoning (NVR) is generally not taught in school. NVR is designed to test a child’s ability to tackle problems involving code and shape sequences, where the children will be asked to deduce how they relate to each other.

To succeed, children must be logical and understand Maths concepts such as symmetry, reflection and rotation. Each question will provide the children with a sequence of 3-5 shapes which they must analyse. Questions could include ‘Find the next one in the sequence’ or ‘Find the odd one out’.

NVR challenges children to interpret visual problems, without the need to draw on prerequisite information. For this reason, it is seen as a ‘pure intelligence’ measure. To tackle this exam with confidence, children must be familiar with the different questions types and practice to improve their speed and accuracy.
Top Tip: Tackle jigsaw puzzles together at home – they will help to improve your child’s shape and spatial awareness.

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The entrance exam is not the climax of your child’s educational journey … it’s only the beginning!

We can continue to support your child as they make the transition to grammar school. Our post exam class revisits primary concepts as well as introducing new secondary Maths and English skills. This ensures your child is fully prepared to face the challenge of Year 7.

Ready to get started?