The 7+ is sat by students in Year 2 for entry into their new school in Year 3. Students typically take the 7+ in January of Year 2, but it is worth noting that some schools require students to sit them before Christmas. It is important for parents to check the admissions section of their intended schools’ websites to confirm dates.
This guide aims to explain:
- Format of the 7 Plus exam
- 7 Plus Maths
- 7 Plus English
- Reading Comprehension
- Story Writing
- Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar
- 7 Plus Reasoning
Format of the 7+ Exam
Whilst the exact format of the 7+ varies between schools, it typically involves an assessment in English and Maths, and, in some instances a separate assessment in Reasoning. Most 7+ assessments are paper-based and sat in person at the school a child is applying to. However, some schools, such as Bute House, do include an online assessment as a part of their entrance procedure. Some of the more competitive schools, such as Bute House and City of London Girls, have multi-staged admissions process requiring applicants to sit an initial assessment in advance of the main 7+ exam or assessment day.
Although the format of the exam can be different from school to school, the content is typically broken down in to the following parts:
- A maths paper (mainly based around the four number operations)
- A writing element
- A comprehension element
What are the expectations for 7+ Maths?
The expectations for 7+ Maths are that the child should be familiar with the whole of the KS1 mathematics curriculum and sometimes beyond (although exams are sat before the end of the academic year). The 7+ exam will last for between 30 and 40 minutes and children need to be familiar with mental and written calculation methods for the four number operations and have a good working knowledge of their timetables. It is also useful for them to have experience with word problems and exposure to typical mathematical vocabulary. Although you should consult the KS1 of the National Curriculum, schools do also set out the topics they assess and therefore expect students to be familiar with. An example of such a school is St Paul’s Junior School who share a detailed maths syllabus upon which their 7+ examination is set.
In broad terms, students should be familiar with the following topics:
- Counting, properties of numbers and number sequences
- Understanding addition and subtraction:
- Rapid recall of addition and subtraction facts
- Mental calculation strategies for addition and subtraction
- Understanding multiplication and division:
- Rapid recall of multiplication and division facts
- Mental calculation strategies for multiplication and division
- Place value and ordering
- Estimating and rounding
- Money and measures
- Shapes and space (2D shapes)
- Problem Solving
What are the expectations for 7+ English?
The expectations for 7+ English are that the child should be familiar with the whole of the KS1 curriculum and sometimes beyond (although exams are sat before the end of the academic year). Children need to be able to read fluently and answer comprehension questions in full sentences. They are also expected to be able to write at least half an A4 page composition with a clear beginning, middle and end story structure. They are expected to use simple sentence punctuation as well as descriptive vocabulary. They should also be familiar with spelling patterns up to the end of the KS1 spelling lists and sometimes beyond.
7+ English examinations assess the following areas:
Applicants are required to read and understand an age-appropriate passage, which could be fiction or non-fiction. Candidates will be expected to understand the text and be able to answer questions about it. They will be required to write in full sentences when supplying their answers. The types of questions they are likely to be asked are as follows:
- Age-appropriate and beyond age-appropriate word meaning
- Literal questions (i.e. questions that require students to identify the answers directly from the text)
- Reasoning Questions (i.e. questions that require students to deduce, infer or interpret information, events, or ideas from texts)
Candidates are typically asked to complete an extended piece of creative writing. They are given between 25 and 35 minutes to complete this. They are normally presented with a choice of two to four titles, one of which may follow on from or relate to the text used for the comprehension. Sample titles include:
- My favourite holiday
- My first day at school
- The long journey
Schools typically want to see a story with:
- A clear beginning, middle and end
- Good use of language, including adjectives, adverbs, connectives, sentence openers and similes
- Good use of the 5 senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste
- Good (and interesting!) vocabulary
- Good spelling, punctuation and grammar
Spelling, Punctuation & Grammar:
Some schools also set separate spelling punctuation and grammar tests. An example of such a school is Westminster Cathedral Choir School – see the following descriptions:
What are the expectations for 7+ Reasoning?
Whilst the majority of schools don't assess reasoning separately at the 7+ level, some do, such as King’s College School, Wimbledon. Most schools include reasoning questions in both the English and Maths papers in the following forms:
- Verbal reasoning appears within most English 7+ papers
- Students are required to understand age-appropriate and beyond age-appropriate vocabulary
- Students should also be able to decode and comprehend words in context
Maths – Non-Verbal Reasoning appears in 7+ Maths papers in the form of questions requiring students to:
- Identify patterns and complete series
- Identify codes and complete series
- Spot similarities
- Spot the odd one out
- Complete basic matrices
Reasoning, especially Non-Verbal Reasoning, will be a very new skill to most 7+ applicants and as such familiarisation with the types of questions they might encounter is crucial.
In addition to the above, we would recommend that parents:
- Encourage reading, as this helps to build vocabulary
- Play word games at home, such as Bananagrams
- Set them word related challenges such as anagrams, word searches, spelling lists
Keystone Tutor Abigail gives her top tips for 7+ exam preparation
"Look for opportunities to prepare in everyday activities. For example, if preparing your child for a dictation element, be sure to play audiobooks while they're in the car or during down time at home. Play games like Bananagrams and hangman to help with their spelling.
Turn as much of the preparation as you can into a game; times tables practice and number bonds can be made a lot more fun by incorporating then into a ball game.”
7 plus tuition
Keystone Tutors have a number of highly experienced 7 Plus tutors who can help with exam and interview preparation, wherever you are in the world.
For more details on how Keystone can help prepare your child for the 7 Plus, please call the office for a chat with one of our client managers, or contact us via our request a tutor form.
Further reading on 7 plus exam