In a nutshell, what is the 7 plus exam?
- Many preparatory schools in London and throughout the UK use the 7 plus exam for children who wish to enter the school in Year 3.
- Children sit the exam when they are in Year 2, typically between November - January.
- The 7 plus exam assesses children's abilities in English and Maths, and some schools also assess children's ability in Reasoning skills.
- Each year, the 7 plus exam becomes increasingly competitive, with far more students applying than spaces available. Generally speaking, there are around 20 places per year for entry into Year 3, and many schools do not offer a sibling policy.
Exactly what is being assessed?
The content of the 7 Plus English and Maths tests is based around the entirety of the Year 2 curriculum. If you've done the maths, you will realise that when sitting the exam in January, children may be assessed on 6 months of work that hasn't yet been taught in their school. Schools do however understand the challenging nature of the exam, and explicitly say that they are simply looking for potential within children, as opposed to 100% accuracy.
Depending on the school, children will be given 30 minutes - 1 hour to complete each paper.
- The English paper normally consists of a comprehension exercise followed by a creative story writing task. Some schools also administer spelling, punctuation and grammar papers.
- The Maths paper includes a range of questions - from simple addition and subtraction questions to multi step word problems. Children are expected to know their 2x, 3x, 5x, and 10x times tables. Some schools administer separate mental arithmetic papers, in addition to the main Maths paper.
For a more detailed description of what is assessed in the exam, please refer to our "7 plus curriculum", which breaks the content of the papers down into specific skills.
Does each school follow the same exam procedure?
To put it simply, no. While each school will assess children using Maths and English papers, the content of the 7 plus exam varies among schools. In addition to the written exams, schools may also conduct additional assessments. For example:
- Some schools take a more informal approach to assessment, inviting children to the school for "trial" days, where they will learn in a classroom full of current students.
- Group work can be assessed in some schools, where children will be given a task and will be monitored on their ability to work co-operatively with others.
- Parent interviews are very common in some schools, and this occurs before a child sits their entrance exam.
- A number of schools assess children in 2 rounds - round 1 consisting of the written entrance examinations and round 2 consisting of an interview. The interview can range from children being asked to talk about their favourite toy, reading a passage from a text and answering comprehension questions, to drawing a self portrait and discussing their work afterwards.
Should I put my child forward for the 7 plus exam?
In our experience, we find that children who are performing above the national average in Year 2 often make good candidates for the 7 plus exam. You don't need to have a child genius to put them forward for the 7 plus exam and very often schools place emphasis on the assessment of social skills - how your child treats others, how they work co-operatively in groups etc. We strongly advise against continuous tuition and exam prep - too many times we have seen children become anxious about the exam process, in turn causing a detrimental effect to their learning. Using our levelled approach, your child can receive a gentle introduction to the world of exams. By using our 7 plus games in conjunction with our papers, dare we say it but exam preparation could even turn out to be an enjoyable experience!