GL Assessment commission exam papers from NFER (National Foundation for Educational Research).

For nearly twenty years they have been the main exam provider in the UK for grammar schools’ selective entrance exams, as well as many of the independent schools’ entrance examinations. However, this has changed since 2013 with CEM starting to take larger chunks of the market.

Four subjects are typically tested in GL assessment papers; English, maths, verbal and non-verbal reasoning, although schools may choose a selection of any of the exams and sometimes create papers of their own to sit alongside them. These tests are believed to be an effective way of testing a child’s potential, not just learned ability. The Explore Learning 11+ tuition programme develops confidence and supports children’s development in all of these key areas.


The GL English exam

A typical GL Assessment paper, with a time limit of 50 minutes, features:

  • A 2-page document followed by 18 comprehension questions
  • 4 further questions assessing word meaning
  • 3 grammar questions
  • 8 questions identifying spelling errors in sentences
  • 8 questions identifying errors in the use of capital letters and punctuation
  • 8 questions assessing vocabulary, where the child needs to choose the best word from a list that will complete the sentence

The GL Maths exam

The 11 Plus maths tests cover the topics that have been taught in Key Stage 2. A typical paper contains 50 questions with a time limit of 50 minutes. These tests are often multiple choice and assess questions in the following categories:

  • Number fluency: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division
  • Number: fractions, decimals, prime numbers, prime factors, highest common factor and lowest common multiple, percentages
  • Measurement: money, time, metric system, perimeter and area, distance, speed and time, volume of cubes and cuboids
  • Statistics: averages, simple ratio, column graphs, pie charts, co-ordinates
  • Patterns and algebra
  • Geometry: angle calculations, reflection and rotation, nets of shapes
  • Probability


The GL Verbal Reasoning exam

A typical paper has 80 questions, to be completed in 50 minutes.

There are 21 types of question set by GL Assessment for the 11 Plus exam, although in some areas not all the types will appear on the question paper.  The format of the papers may be either ‘standard’ format (no answer options are provided and the child must work out the answer from scratch) or multiple choice, where five possible answer options are provided on the answer paper.

Example verbal reasoning question

Example GL verbal reasoning question

The GL Non-Verbal Reasoning Paper

Non-Verbal reasoning tests are designed to assess how well a child can analyse visual information and solve problems by using visual logic. Typically papers are 40-minute exams. They are often broken into 4 sections of 20 questions with an allowance of 10 minutes per section.

Topics covered are:

  • Identifying which shape is the odd one out.
  • Working out which diagram comes next in a sequence.
  • Working out cube nets and how shapes will look when folded.
  • Mirror images and reflections.
  • Finding 2 identical shapes in a series.
  • Rotations and symmetry.
 NVR Questions

Example GL non-verbal reasoning question


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Over the last 15 years, Explore Learning has developed an 11 Plus and Entrance Exam offering that is tailored to suit the schools in the local area. Whether your child is sitting a CEM, GL Assessment, Bond, Avery or local school entrance paper we adapt our tools and advice to prepare for the exam.


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