11 Plus Schools

Birmingham Eleven Plus Test Paper Content

This information was provided by our 11+ Forum Moderator KenR, and we are grateful to him for his input.

Quite a lot of information on the historical content of the Birmingham KE Foundation grammar 11+ exams has been posted by parents on the Birmingham section of our 11+ forum. To give parents an idea of what their child may expect in future Birmingham KE 11+ exams, the information has been collated by our Forum Moderator and set out below.

Parents should be warned that many children find the comprehension content, which usually comes first, very hard, so it’s best that they are prepared to expect this and try not to let this affect their approach to the following sections.

Disclaimer: The University of Durham CEM, who prepare the tests, do not give advance notice of the content. They are always looking for new ways to test children. There is no guarantee that any or all of the content of previous tests will be included in future Foundation tests.

King Edward Exam November 2011

Paper 1 (45 mins)


Multiple Choice approximately 21 questions in 15 mins.
A comprehension on Elsie and Frances and the fairy photos (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cottingley_Fairies) talking about the original story and the explanation of the fraud in the 1980s.

Topic: Cottingley Fairies. 2 girls who had taken photographs, shown them to their parents, word spread, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote about it.
Comprehension was quite long – questions included eg. what is a beck?

Non Verbal

Approximately 20 questions (about 6-8 mins)

• Shape Rotation
• Sequences and grids (there were no cubes/block arrangements)
• overall style was nfer-nelson (GL Assessment) type


Approximately 24 questions in 8 minutes (see examples words below)

• Many children found some hard and some very hard
• One child completed about 21 questions in each section
• As in previous years in some cases the given word was easy, but the list of synonyms or antonyms were not
• General view is that it was much harder than anything practiced e.g. Bond, GL, IPS, Duaghtrey
• It should be noted that many of the example words below have been included in previous exams
• Example words include: coy, humble; antiquity; abundance; flamboyant; tranquil, din (opposites); unorthodox; inaugurate; pigment; rigid
• Other example words include: gregarious; evaluation; inferior; dismal; trivial


Paper 2 (45 mins)


Seven big questions each containing around 4 sub questions(circa 28 in total) in about 30-35 mins.

• The first question was using letters in a table, a bit like sudoku.
• Another question was a table about Susie, Annie and Ben who collected animal figures eg horses. Also a Graph of children’s animals
• Example Question: the time in New York is 7.00am when the time in England is 21.00pm. Every neutral mile is 1.25 normal miles. You go on a journey that is 3200 neutral miles long, how many normal miles is this?
• Example Question: You set off from England on 20th, and travel to New York. The journey takes 6 days and 6 hrs, what is the date and time that you arrive?
• Example Question: About scales – 1 had 5 small triangles and 1 big triangle, that weighed 4.5 kgs. The next scale had 3 small triangles, and 1 big triangle and weighed 3.7 kgs. The question asked you to find out what the weight of each small triangle was.
• Example Question: Picture made up of shapes (eg. rhombus) – how many rhombuses? If area of picture is x, and area of rhombuses is y, what is area of parallelograms?
• Example Question: Tiles – in shape of T, how many tiles were needed for a wall? If extra xm had to be tiled, how many more tiles are needed?
• The last question was about a magazine which had 92 pages, each having 20×30cm pictures and drawings taking up 50% of space, 25% text and 25% ads. If 50 words took up 30cm2 how many words can you fit on a page.

L-O-N-G Cloze Activity

Two pages with a number of questions in 8-10 mins (exact timing is not clear)
(More information to follow)

Scattered words to fill in letters.


Shuffled sentences of about 14 questions(approximately 8 mins)

• Which word will not fit in the sentence
• Mixed up rows of words from which you are asked to construct a sentence and state which word was superfluous. Rows of words all mixed up, boxes underneath.
• Make a sentence with all the words and the odd one out you shaded in a box.
• Example: The rain the umbrella on fell water. Answer – The rain fell on the umbrella -odd one out is “water”
• Example: The man put the hat on and left the house. Answer – head
• There were sentences with two words switched, as well as an extra rogue word. Apparently this was in the exam about 7 years ago

General Comments and quotes from Children & Parents about the Nov 2011 exam

About synonyms and Antonyms: plenty of time, just very difficult

About Shuffled sentences: found quite difficult – seems to be luck if you can work out the sentence. Never come across anything like this before

About Non Verbal: Again fairly straight forward, but very tight on time – this is the only section my child did not manage to attempt all questions (but only left 2 unanswered)

King Edward Exam November 2010

Paper 1


Multiple Choice 18-20 questions in 15 mins
• Single passage on ‘Curling’ (the sport),
• 1.5 pages of text,
• information given on fixtures, results
• Rhona Martin’s(UK Captain) information and quotes,
• Mixed messages as whether easy or difficult, with 1 or 2 definitely more difficult questions,
• deductive type ( eg Did the team win? text gave score part way through match (4-3) and 2 quotes of what Rhona said after the match and mention of gold medal; Rhona’s character? Answer had to be based on 2 quotes from her.)
• Example multiple questions include:

Q1) How long has she been practising for?
a. 6 months
b. 1 yr
c. Last 4 years
d. Passage does not say

Q2) Who was in the final?
a. Canada and Switzerland
b. Switzerland and Germany
c. Britain and Canada
d. Britain and Switzerland

Q3) Which team did they win against?
Q4) What is the best way to describe what happened in the story?
A5) Which words describe the main character best? e.g modest but competitive.


Approx. 25-32 questions in 8 minutes
• some hard & some very hard
• a few small 5 letter words but not many
• children said even though small words they didn’t know the meaning
• in some cases the given word was easy, but list of synonyms were not
• general view – it was much harder than anything practiced e.g. Bond, GL Assessment, IPS, Daughtrey
• Example words include: abundance, pompous, helix, uniform, contract, shrink, benefit, alert and rigid.


Approx. 25-30 questions in 7 minutes
• Again difficult
• again some hard as children never heard of some words
• e.g. ruler/subject

L-O-N-G Cloze Activity

Approx. 27-35 questions in 15 mins
• Topic: Florida Theme Parks, winter ski parks change to summer water parks,
• words like subterfuge, only given first and last letters, no word bank
• mainly 3 letters missing few with 2 letters e.g. slope, gentle, resort, younger
• Other examples include(missing letters in small letters): InTenSE, TEENager, FAMIlies, WIde, lenGTH, HIgh


Paper 2

Non Verbal Shapes

Aprox. 20 questions – 7-8 mins
• Short questions in terms of the thinking needed.
• plenty of sequencing questions,
• overall style was nfer-nelson type
• one child thought too much time (but child is exceptionally good at NVR)

Maths Section

30 questions (5 short, 25 long) in 30 mins
• 5 short questions at start
• 25 long questions, mostly 3 parts to each question
• mixture of data and problem solving
• e.g. Cake mix question: had 6 parts, you were given ingredients needed to make 6 cakes e.g .40 ml lemon juice, 20 eggs; question type: how many cakes from 200 eggs@ Answer (x) then how much lemon juice would that many cakes (x) require? Larger/smaller number of cakes —> changes to quantities of ingredients
• e.g. you were given international times for cities such as London and Japan, asked about timings for international phone calls between cities or plane flights from one place to another – time started, time finished.
• (time chart) what’s the difference in time between Moscow and New York? What time will they arrive if they left at 01:45? How long was the total journey?
• e.g. Angle rules tested with triangle with lots of protruding lines and one angle given, needed to really know angle rules AND be able to apply them effectively
• one child thought some questions were too complex/obscure, quite unfathomable, wouldn’t have been able to do them no matter how much time was available, candidate felt they were unsuitable for a high speed test.
• apparently one about tiling a room that appeared in a previous year 120 tiles 30cm x 30cm etc
• I think of a number that is a multiple of 6 and 4. It is between 15 and 30, what is it?
• Some quick algebra questions also appeared within the long maths section; maximum of five questions.

Non Verbal Reasoning

Approx 20 Questions on sequences in about 7-8 mins
• Multiple choice
• Similarities and Rotation
• Harder than the first NVR set on Paper 1,
• got harder as it went on,
• different style of NVR, not seen before, not Nfer-nelson, not Bond,
• No 3D stuff such as which cube can be made from a given net
• series and matrices but of a more complex variety
• Arrows rotated around 90°. Arrows added each time. Arrows combined with shapes (circles) and rotated. Choose one from a choice of four. One parent thought this may be similar to the latest Bond NVR type questions.

General Comments and quotes from Children & Parents about the Nov 2010 exam

“He said the test was quite straight forward with a few tricky questions but he said timing was a push i.e. not much time of any to check any of the work, I do not think the test was easy, as some people I have heard saying.”

“In maths, they dropped the quick maths paper (as they did 4 years ago) but think it will re-appear. Tiles and cakes were both questions from last year. The time zones was new. There were also some interpretative graphs.”

“Comprehension and cloze went from 2 and 3 passages respectively to just one of each but longer.”

“You have to beware of children saying it was easier. They actually mean it was easier than they were expecting.”

Quote from a tutor about the Comprehension in Paper 1. “My absolutely best said it was a bit hard, my next best said it was easy, my middle of the road children in English (5B/5c) thought it relatively hard and my pupils who are still on Sats 4 thought it very hard. So goodness knows what it was really like. Only one of my pupils said ‘easy’ and I did have very good pupils this year.”

King Edward Exam November 2009

Paper 1


Approx. 28-30 questions in 7 minutes – words included antiquity, pigment, gregarious


Approx. 20-22 questions in 5 minutes – words included deliberate, din

Long Maths

Approx 38-40 questions

  1. Question about tiling a room – 120 tiles long, one tile 30 cm x 30 cm – what was length of room in cm and m? If tiles were 40p each how much would it cost to tile the room. (3 questions)
  2. 3 passengers on bus at stop 1 – different stops, some got off, some got on – how many people on bus at stop 5 (only 1 question)
  3. Bar chart of school clubs – 64 children in year, max 2 clubs each, 7 children don’t go to a club, how many children went to 2 clubs (5 questions)
  4. Table of 6 children – ticks for who has brothers, sisters, pets – how many have at least 1 brother and 1 sister; which statement is true (2 questions)
  5. Mini olympics – large confusing grid with gaps – how many points each performance – gave total scores – fill in grid (4 questions to fill in grid, further 5 or 6 about the grid)

Matrices and Non Verbal Reasoning

Approx. 20 questions


Paper 2

2 Comprehensions

Explorer went to Antarctica and saw red sky and amazing views – most found quite hard. eg. what colour sky – 10-12 multiple choice questions

Classroom in Winter

Gave you where people sat, some people stuck in snow – 10-12 multiple choice questions – mixed views of difficulty – questions like which statement must be true, why was blackboard tilted diagonally, why were socks hanging from fire.

Missing words

Missing words in 2 passages (about 18-24 in each); 10 minutes – first easy – about plane landing in Hudson River, example words tr—-r (trader), damage, extinguisher, through, weapons. Second one hard – about Viking travellers from Norway – example Denmark.

Quick maths

25-30 questions in 10 minutes eg. ordering fractions, lots of algebra

3D shapes

About 22-26 questions in 10 minutes – questions about shapes from different angles and rotated round

Notes: Key Changes from 2008

  • hexagonal lattices disappeared to be replaced by analogies
  • about 3 examples of this turned into this, and this turned into this, so what will this turn into….

King Edward exam November 2008

Paper 1


56 questions in 12 minutes.

36/38 Straight synonyms/ 20 antonyms. Multiple choice. Difficult. Sample words – evaluation, orthodontist, nurseryman, wound, inferior, content, subdued, clemency, debrief, precarious, vicarious, perplexed, apprehensive, physiotherapy, subterranean, conclusion, superfluous, polarity, nauseous, frivolous, altitude, trivial, emerge, pigment, covet, antiquity, tranquil, drought, passive, incision, bewildered, device. This is an area not tested at school so, even if your child is regarded as good at English, they may find this exceptionally difficult.

Maths Data Interpretation

Graphs, routes, timetables, magic squares, puzzles, fraction work (not adding so much as showing an understanding of). Test their ability to read and interpret information. Some questions are as much logic as maths. Good reading skills required as well as excellent maths ability. Very hard. 25 minutes. 18 questions with sub-sections to most. Very few pupils finished all of the paper.

Non Verbal Reasoning 2

A lattice of 6 hexagons around a central hexagon. A pattern connecting all hexagons, apart from one with question mark. Select the most appropriate to go in this space. 12 minutes. 20 questions


Paper 2


Two passages. Fictional test on Druid in search of magical fish. Non-fictional on Barcelona and buildings. 25/30 questions.

Missing Words

Cloze tests. No words given, just letters and dashes of words missing from passage. Most children found quite hard to work out what words were appropriate. Example of words were traders, farming, robbers, clever, ample. Approx 25 to 40.

Quick Maths

About 12 minutes. About 40 questions.
Fractions, ordering fractions, decimals, algebra, powers of e.g. x = 3 ½ what is 4x + 2

Non Verbal Reasoning

3d models of cubes connected together. 4 or 5 at top of page, some with markings on. Then a list of questions, each with a 2d arrangement of squares. The children had to say which of the 3d models was the 2d drawing a view. 20 questions.

Note: Information based on postings and correspondence from various parents and children.

King Edward exam November 2007


Boy escaping from palace guards. 12 Questions. Multiple Choice. SATs Level 5 readers found it easy, Level 4 considered it hard.


Spelling, punctuation (no speech again), English grammar. Passage was hard but mistakes weren’t. Not the basis of a comprehension this year.


Several 3d models of cubes (think Lego) given at top of page. Then list of 2d views. Had to say from which 3d model the 2d view came. 20 questions.


25 Minutes: Data interpretation. Routes, timetables. Speed/time problems. Money problems. Fraction problems. Test their ability to read an interpret information. approx. 18 questions with subsections to most. Very few children finished this section this year.



12 minutes: 56 words. So much easier on time. Don’t know if it was easier words. Many children did claim to know at least half the words (more than previous years). Sample words: altitude (back in from 3 years ago), trivial, emerge, pigment, covet, antiquity, tranquil, drought, passive, incision, bewildered, device.

Missing Word

13 minutes: Several passages with omitted words. Choice of 3 to fill in . Best fit in context. 10 words per passage and 7 passages. Words not complex e.g. choose from ‘air, summit or peak’ but close in meaning. Varied passages including one from Northern Lights by Philip Pullman so that will give you an idea of level.

Quick Maths

12 Minutes:This was reintroduced, having been taken out previous year. Anything from 20 to 50 questions. Guess probably 40. Fractions, ordering fractions, decimals, algebra, powers off. Most children found impossible to finish. Very demanding on time but suited to good arithmeticians.

Non Verbal

6 hexagons arranged around a central hexagon. A pattern connecting all, with a ? on one blank one. Select the most appropriate to replace the blank from a choice of n (not sure how many.) 12 minutes. 20 questions. Many children who are good at NVR found it relatively easy.

(Notes: Caveat – this is not necessarily a wholly accurate description of the exam. Many children/parents gave different feedback of the exam and based timings on the most frequently appearing time.)

King Edward exam November 2006

Paper 1

  • 10 minutes proof reading/comprehension – passage wasn’t very long but very descriptive. (proof reading section was about a forest in Sweden)
  • 2 minutes word recognition with definitions – 12 synonyms in 2 mins beginning with re
  • 25 minutes Non verbal reasoning & Maths (90 questions ) (Maths Multiple Choice)
  • 10 minutes (81 antonyms beginning with ST and C.)

15 minute break

Paper 2

  • 10 minutes non verbal (possibly 70 Bugs)
  • 25 minutes Maths – (Maths more general Maths & Problem Solving as opposed to Arithmetic – 35 questions in 25 mins – apparently there were some equations not the simple type.)
  • 15 minutes Comprehension & Vocab – answering questions on comprehension (which required remembering the passage in descriptive detail in Paper 1)and finally the vocab and meaning

The instructions for all of the tests are on a tape – similar to SATs

King Edward exam November 2005

Paper 1

  • 10 minutes proof reading/comprehension – (about Polynesians on Easter Island and how they chopped down all the trees to make canoes) taken from here
  • 10 minutes word recognition with definitions (Synonyms 80 words in 10 mins) (some children looked at the quantity, knew they couldn’t finished so just guessed the lot- result disaster!)
  • 25 minutes maths and verbal reasoning

15 minute break

Paper 2

  • 10 minutes non-verbal reasoning (including bugs evolving into new bugs)
  • 20 minutes maths
  • 15 minutes answering questions on proof reading and finding the meaning of made up words. Proof reading is correcting errors in work. The errors may be spelling, punctuation, or grammatical.

Child said that the words were hard – the meaning of words included “inaugurate” and “pompous”.

Maths – some was easy and some was hard. For example, how long did it take to fill different sizes of containers?

In this exam the children were given a passage to read during the 1st paper which was then taken away. They then had to answer questions on it in the 2nd paper at the end.

(Note: The instructions for all of the tests are on a tape – similar to SATs)

Page last updated 20 January 2012