In the middle of January 2021, the Calderdale schools quietly announced major changes to their 11 plus admissions test for September 2021. Instead of having two of the papers produced in-house, the three tests (maths, English and verbal reasoning) were moving to GL Assessment.
The implications for children preparing for the test in 2021 are significant. The extremely challenging English paper of the past has now become entirely multiple choice. The new paper involves comprehension; the children are required to read a passage and answer around 25 questions that test their understanding, vocabulary and grammar. There are also separate sections (around 8 questions each) on spelling, grammar and completing a passage with the correct choice of words. There is no writing involved in the new English test.
Moving the maths paper to GL Assessment is likely to mean the test increasing to 50 questions in 50 minutes (the old test was 40 questions in 30 minutes). The verbal reasoning paper was already produced by GL Assessment, and is set to remain at 50 questions in 30 minutes.
Although it is unfortunate that the Calderdale schools have decided to change their admissions test halfway through a school year (many children have already spend months preparing for the old test format), at Satchel we think there are many advantages to the new process:
The old English comprehension was, for many children, excessively difficult.
There were always concerns about the ability of the schools to mark their English paper accurately and consistently across the 1000 plus children who sat the test.
The new English test is still challenging, and it will reward children who are strong readers and accurate writers.
It is easier to prepare for the new maths papers as there are many GL Assessment practice papers available. The old maths test was always a bit of a mystery (there was one example on the schools’ websites) and it sometimes contained errors / typos.
There is less time pressure for the maths paper and less emphasis on exam technique.
It makes it easier for children to prepare for both the Calderdale schools and Heckmondwike, as the English tests are relatively similar.
At Satchel we have made a number of changes to our 11 plus preparation to reflect the new GL Assessment tests. These include:
Greater emphasis on grammar, vocabulary and spelling booklets.
More comprehension work to develop understanding.
Working on comprehension booklets other than fiction.
Practice English tests.
A greater emphasis on algebra for the more able students.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like discuss any aspect of the new Calderdale 11 plus test.