SLT’s Guide to the 11+ Consortium Test
In May 2022, the London 11+ Consortium announced that it would be using a new test for entry from September 2023. SLT’s guide walks you through what the Consortium is, how the new test looks, and how you can prepare for it.
What is the London 11+ Consortium?
The London 11+ Consortium is a group of 14 independent girls’ schools who have agreed to use one 11+ assessment between them. Originally known as the North London Girls’ Schools Consortium, it was established to simplify the admissions process for families applying to more than one of these popular girls’ schools at 11+.
The considerable advantage is that instead of sitting a different assessment for each school, meaning more preparation and more pressure on applicants, girls take one assessment which can be used to apply for multiple schools. The downside, though, is that one off day could affect several applications.
The schools in the Consortium are:
What is the London 11+ Consortium test?
Although intended to simplify the admissions process, in practice, the Consortium has changed the format of its assessment every few years. This has put pressure on parents and applicants to keep up to date with the latest developments to stand the best chance of success.
The current test, announced in May 2022, is co-developed and hosted by Atom Learning, an adaptive e-learning platform. This assessment was first used in the winter of 2022/23 for entry in September 2023.
The Consortium claims that, unlike previous 11+ assessments, which focused on determining the applicant’s cognitive ability, the ‘Atom test’ is also able to assess their potential “in creative and critical thinking, analysis, synthesis and problem-solving.” Such claims are often made of (and by) adaptive and online learning platforms, though in our view, it is worth taking these with a pinch of salt.
Despite the marketing spin, one assessment at a particular moment in time is not an accurate way to measure a child’s potential. Our experience of working with thousands of children is that potential can change radically as a result of a wide range of developmental and environmental factors. It is misleading for a tech platform (or a school) to suggest otherwise.
Another reason for the Consortium to have switched may be a touch more prosaic. Put simply, online tests are easier and more efficient for schools to administer. This is because the platform can mark large parts of the test automatically, saving the schools time and staffing resources.
What is the format of the test?
The test is taken online, ideally at a Consortium school. If this is not possible, the Consortium will make arrangements for the test to be invigilated at your daughter’s current school. The test consists of five sections and lasts 100 minutes in total, excluding a half-hour break just over halfway through. The five sections are taken in this order:
- Maths (20 minutes)
- Non-verbal Reasoning (10 minutes)
- English Comprehension and Verbal Reasoning (30 minutes)
- Break (30 minutes)
- Problem Solving (15 minutes)
- Analysis (25 minutes)
How to prepare for the London 11+ Consortium test
The Consortium has published ‘familiarisation materials’ for the test so applicants can see a few examples of the style and types of questions they may be asked for each section. As the name indicates, though, these are of more help in getting used to the format of the test than in enabling children to practise and improve.
As the test is conducted online, many applicants will be tempted simply to practise on an online platform promising highly realistic ‘test prep’. Children scroll through questions on a computer screen and are given a mark at the end of the assessment. This certainly has its uses – practising in timed conditions and in the medium of the exam is wise and will ensure your daughter is not too surprised by what she encounters on the day.
But this will not replace the deeper level of knowledge that can be achieved by working 1-1 with a tutor who is perfectly matched to your child’s character and learning style. A good tutor will get to know your daughter, her strengths and weaknesses, and how she learns best. They can then go beyond simply giving her a score and explain the concepts underlying each question and develop the core skills needed to improve her understanding. The end result is a child who is prepared for whatever the 11+ can throw at her – whether it’s on- or offline – and has optimised her chances of success.
A brief word of warning – one of Atom’s rival e-learning platforms, Planet Bofa, has released a test prep product called the London 11+ Consortium Exam. A registrar we spoke to at a Consortium school informed us that this has been done without permission and that this product is not affiliated with the Consortium.
Our tutoring service has successfully prepared thousands of children for the Consortium 11+.
We are pleased to share our top three tips for success:
1. Leave plenty of time
No matter the assessment, we always advise beginning your child’s preparation at least a year in advance. This is particularly sensible for younger children who may never have prepared for an exam before. A regular course of preparation will ease the pressure on your daughter, ensuring she enjoys her learning and scores as highly as possible on the day.
2. Build up your child’s skills
The Consortium 11+ requires solid core skills which can be developed in a fun, engaging way in the months and years before the test itself. To improve a child’s vocabulary, comprehension and grammar skills, there is still nothing like a good book! If your child can develop a good reading habit at a young age, they will be well prepared for the 11+ and for many other academic challenges later in life. The same goes for Maths. Traditional techniques like practising mental maths and times tables can be used in conjunction with more modern approaches, such as online maths games, to boost your child’s numeracy skills. (BBC Bitesize is a good resource for this).
3. Target your preparation
With a solid foundation of verbal and numerical skills, your daughter will be well placed to prepare for the specific demands of the Consortium 11+. The Consortium does not release past papers, meaning that working with a tutor with a catalogue of experience and success is particularly helpful. A good tutor will be familiar with the types of question asked in the test and can prepare your child accordingly, targeting the specific skills that need extra attention and ensuring they are as confident and well prepared as possible. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to book an expert tutor to support your daughter’s preparation for the Consortium 11+.
Finally, if you are just beginning your research into the Consortium 11+ test, our recent webinar and podcast on the ISEB Pre-Test contains many much advice that is highly applicable to preparing for other online tests, including the Consortium 11+.