The 11 plus decides whether or not a child is of grammar school standard but compared to all other academic exams GCSE, A’levels and even undergraduate level exams it is perhaps the unfairest.
Firstly the 11+ is perhaps the only exam without actual past papers only sample papers are available for pupils to revise from. But the length and actual time to complete the exam can UNEXPECTEDLY differ on the real day!
My niece recently did the 11+ and had been told by her tutor in addition to umpteen mocks and online papers, the English paper would be 56 questions and one piece of comprehension, all to be done in 50 minutes. Every sample paper was like that. She spent many months preparing for that! She was averaging 80% in mocks. Well with the pass threshold. The actual exam was 2 pieces of comprehension, 64 questions and only 45 minutes to complete it! That was very underhand. She failed to complete it all.
That would never happen with GCSEs or A’Levels. Students know how many questions they will have and how long to do them.
Secondly unlike other exams, pupils/ parents do not get the actual score for the exam either as a figure or percentage. They’re only told if they passed or failed. With GCSEs, A’levels and undergraduate exams students can get the scores they did for each section. Not with the 11+! The very way it is assessed is very opaque. How can there be any fairness in an exam where parents have no idea how well their child did?
To enter grammar there is no actual pass mark, it’s decided each year. Without an actual percentage mark or grade given to each pupil there is little to no grounds for any kind of appeal. The whole selection system is as clear as mud.
I strongly support the idea of grammar schools but if so many had not been shut down by previous governments there wouldn’t be such fierce and unfair competition to gain a place in Grammar.