You may come across a number of terms and phrases when reading about the 11 Plus, so we wanted to make it as easy as possible to understand everything! We’ve put together a handy glossary so you can have all the information you need.

12 Plus and 13 Plus

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This is a late transfer test to determine which students are suitable for entry into a grammar school in Year 8 or Year 9. Not all grammar schools have this system, but can offer a late-transfer procedure if:

  • The school has a pass mark for the 11 Plus and only admits children who achieve this score, rather than admitting the highest-ranked children until all places are filled.
  • There were fewer applicants than overall places and therefore there were no children on the waiting list to fill the places.
  • A number of children have left the school during the academic year, leaving vacancies.

The test is intended for children who didn’t gain a school place via the usual 11 Plus route. This may be because they didn’t reach the required standard, or didn’t take the 11 Plus in the first place.

Transfer Test (TT)

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In Northern Ireland, when the 11 Plus was abolished it was replaced by two different transfer tests. They are commonly known as the AQE and the GL. Which test(s) your child sits depends in which grammar schools you wish your child to apply to. Some grammar schools accept either test but most use one or the other.

Admissions Policy

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The Admissions Policy documents the rules used by a school to decide the order in which children are offered school places. This must be published by the Admission Authorities.

Places are allocated using various means, however the School Appeals Code means that Admission Authorities are obligated to admit two categories of children ahead of all others: children in the care of the Local Authority and children with an Education, Health and Care Plan that specifically names the school. After these children have been allocated places, the remainder of the places are allocated in accordance with the Admissions Policy.

This policy may cover:

  • Catchment: a pre-defined area around the school is given priority and sometimes will be defined by specific postcode areas.
  • Distance: from home to the main entrance of the school, either measuring ‘the shortest journey’ or ‘as the crow flies’.
  • Sibling priority: priority may be given to children who already have an older brother or sister attending the school.
  • 11 Plus score: highest score downwards, until all places are filled.
  • Tie-breaker: certain elements of the 11 Plus test may be used to decide between two otherwise-equal applications.
  • Religious commitment (for faith schools).
  • Exceptional medical, educational or social reasons: professional evidence must be supplied in these cases to support the application.
  • Aptitude: places awarded at partially selective schools for children with academic, musical or sporting talent.
  • Random allocation (also known as a lottery system): this does not apply to grammar schools, other than as a ‘tie-breaker’ for two children who both equally satisfy the admissions criteria.

Allocations Day

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Places for almost all state secondary schools are allocated on the first working day in March. This is known as National Allocations Day.


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As a parent, you can appeal to an Independent Appeal Panel to consider the Admission Authority’s decision not to offer your child a place at the school you wanted.

Casual Admissions/In-Year Admissions

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These applications are received outside the normal Admissions round, usually because a family has moved to a different area.

Catchment Area

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An area that is set out around each school. An Admissions Policy will give priority, but not guaranteed admission, to children living within the catchment area of the school and whose parents register a written preference for the school by their deadline. The Admission Authority will also consider children who live outside of the catchment, after places have been allocated to those living within the catchment.


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CEM stands for the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring, a research group based at the School for Education, University of Durham. They produce 11 Plus entrance tests for schools and local authorities.

Common Applications Form (CAF)

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Every parent must complete this form for the transfer to a state secondary school. The CAF is submitted to your LA (Local Authority) even if you have named schools in another county or Admission Authority. The LA will then advise the neighbouring authority of your preference for a school in their area.

Common Entrance

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Common Entrance is the name for a set of examinations taken by boys and girls for entrance to senior independent schools at 11 Plus or 13 Plus. The syllabuses are devised by the Independent Schools Examinations Board which is composed of Heads from the three Associations that represent the leading independent schools in the country: The Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, The Girls’ Schools Association and The Independent Association of Prep Schools. The papers are set by examiners appointed by the Board, but the answers are marked by the senior school for which a candidate is entered.


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GL Assessment provide exams in the UK for grammar schools’ selective entrance exams, as well as many independent schools’ entrance examinations.


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National Foundation for Educational Research. The former name for GL Assessment.

Non-verbal Reasoning (NVR)

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This is a type of question designed to test a child’s ability to understand and analyse visual information and solve problems using visual reasoning.

Partially Selective Schools

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These fall into one of two categories:

  • Bilateral Schools: contain both grammar and non-selective streams and are taught separately.
  • Partially Selective Schools: schools that elected to retain some selection by academic ability in a named specialism, after the grammar school system was dismantled.


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Parents can express a preference for their child to attend a particular school, but that does not guarantee a place at that school.

Published Admission Number (PAN)

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The maximum number of pupils that the Admission Authority will admit to each year group.

Sibling Rule

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Some grammar schools give priority to children where one or more of their siblings already attend the school. Siblings can include adopted children who reside at the same address as the older or younger child.

Specialist Status

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Secondary schools can apply for a specialist status in arts, language, sports, technology, business and enterprise, maths and computing, science or engineering. Some comprehensive schools select a percentage of their applicants based on aptitude in their specialised area.

Standardised Scores

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Standardisation is a statistical process designed to take two factors into account:

  • To give equal value to the results of each test taken, regardless of the number of questions and the time allocated to completing them. The number of questions on a test paper and the time allowed to complete it, can differ and so standardisation ensures that equal weighing is given to the results of all tests.
  • To consider the age of the child at the time they take the 11 Plus. Children taking the exams can be born a whole year apart (1st September to 31st August), which can make a big difference to the results of the tests. To remove this unfairness, the marks of the tests are adjusted to make them ‘standard; for all children, regardless of their age.

Supplementary Form

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Some schools require additional information that is not collected online or on the CAF, so that they can follow their admission rules – for example, faith schools.

Verbal Reasoning (VR)

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A question type designed to test understanding and reasoning, using concepts framed in words. It aims to test the ability to think constructively, rather than just simple fluency or vocabulary recognition.

Voluntary-aided Schools

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These are mainly religion or faith schools, although anyone can apply for a place. The school’s buildings and land are normally owned by a charitable foundation, often a religious organisation.

Bilateral schools

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Bilateral schools contain both grammar and non-selective streams, with the two groups of students taught separately.

Partially selective schools

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Partially selective schools are schools that elected to retain some selection by academic ability or aptitude in a named specialism after the national grammar school system was dismantled.