11+ testing in Devon explained

Devon 11+ guide for parents
With three separate Local Authorities involved, applying for a grammar school place in Devon can be challenging. We cut through the confusion and explain what parents need to know.

Which schools require an 11+ pass?

There are seven exclusively grammar schools in Devon, and just to make it more challenging for parents, there are also three Local Authorities (LA) involved in admissions: Devon County Council, Plymouth and Torbay.

There is also one bilateral school, The Spires College (Torbay LA; mixed), which is an all-ability school with a separate grammar stream for children who pass the 11+.

What do the tests involve?

The tests vary between the different areas of the county. All schools set English and maths papers, with some schools assessing verbal reasoning too. The format of the tests varies too, from multiple choice and short answer questions to pieces of extended creative writing. You'll find more detailed information about testing arrangements on the individual schools' websites, but the table below summarises the testing procedures at each school:

School Tests required
Colyton Verbal reasoning (VR), English, maths
Devonport Boys English, maths, English composition
Devonport Girls English, maths, two locally set English papers
Plymouth Girls English, maths, written English
Churston Ferrers Two VR papers, English and maths
Torquay Boys Two VR papers, English and maths
Torquay Girls Two VR papers, English and maths
The Spires College Two VR papers, English and maths

What version of the test is used?

Plymouth's selective schools use GL Assessment tests but the individual schools themselves set some of the papers.

The Torbay schools and Colyton Grammar School, however, use CEM (Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring) Entrance Assessment Tests, to assess verbal ability (comprehension, vocabulary and verbal reasoning), numerical reasoning and non-verbal reasoning. Check the schools' admissions policies for details.

How do you arrange for your child to take the test?

The registration forms for all schools in the county are available for parents to download on each of the school’s own websites.

Parents can find detailed information about the timeline and content for the 11+ examinations in Plymouth by visiting www.plymouth.gov.uk.

Further details for admission arrangements for any of the Torbay schools can be found on the school admissions website.

Where are the tests held?

The tests are held at each the selective schools. Your child will usually sit the test at the school that you're most likely to apply to.

What is the pass mark?

The required standard not only varies from school to school but also from year to year depending on the range of ability of the children taking the test. For example, the Plymouth schools allocate their places in rank order, while the Torbay schools have a minimum pass mark of 50 per cent for the English and maths papers, but a variable pass mark for VR. Each school has slightly different variations on the way that children are considered ‘selected’ so it’s important to visit the relevant school website to familiarise themselves with the individual school’s admission policy. 

How can I help prepare my child?

GL Assessment practice papers and support materials are available to buy from bookstores and online. Some of Devon’s selective schools also run familiarisation sessions and mock exams at the schools prior to testing day. These details can be found on the school’s individual website under Admissions.