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Which subjects are tested in grammar school entrance exams?

Grammar School entrance exams test candidates on some or all of the following subjects:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Non-Verbal Reasoning

Grammar schools which are in a consortium will use the same exam as each other, meaning that pupils only sit one exam for multiple schools, rather than a different exam for each.


In English, pupils may be tested on their reading and comprehension skills, their spelling, or their punctuation and grammar. Often, they will be tested on all of these things. In most cases, pupils will be given a text to read and answer questions about. This will also test their knowledge of different grammatical features such as adverbs, adjectives, verbs, nouns and connectives.


In Mathematics, pupils will be tested in both mathematical reasoning and arithmetic. This allows grammar schools to see how good a pupil’s mental maths skills are and how well they can apply their own knowledge to new problems.

Verbal Reasoning

Verbal reasoning generally involves problem solving with words and letters. It tests a child’s understanding of vocabulary and their ability to recognise words. Verbal reasoning will often involve some form of ‘coding’, whereby letters and numbers will be linked and pupils will have to solve a problem using this information.

Click here for more information on Verbal Reasoning.

Non-Verbal Reasoning

Non-Verbal Reasoning does not involve words, instead all the questions are done using pictures. Generally, pupils will have to look at a sequence of patterns or pictures, and either figure out which is missing from a selection or judge which is the odd one out.

Click here for more information on Non-Verbal Reasoning.

See examples of questions pupils may face on the 11+ exam by trying a free BOFA demo test. 

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Verbal Demo NonVerbal Demo English Demo Maths Demo

BOFA prepares pupils for their entrance exam by identifying weak areas across all four subjects, then building their confidence with practice questions and concise explanations. A subscription to BOFA 8+ - 12+ includes over 300 tests covering the 11+ syllabus, with practice questions written by teachers who have set real 11+ exam papers.