How to prepare for the 11+ Grammar School GL (Granada Learning) Exam

The 11 Plus Grammar School exam is a vital assessment taken by many children in the UK as they prepare to enter a selective school. One of the main providers of this exam is GL Assessment, who administer the majority of grammar school tests across the country. In this article, we'll discuss what to expect from the GL 11+ exam, how to best prepare for it, and how our 11+ May Half-Term Grammar Courses can help.

GL Assessment: Overview

GL Assessment (Granada Learning) is responsible for writing and administering a high volume of 11 plus tests across the UK. Although CEM has grown in popularity due to some grammar schools and local authorities' concerns that the 11+ exam system is too transparent, GL Assessment remains the most significant provider of the exam. They continually change the format and difficulty level of the exam.

GL Assessment has developed and administered 11+ exams in the majority of grammar schools in the UK. Questions are normally in multiple-choice format, though some authorities use a written answer format for verbal and maths tests. Questions are drawn from a large question bank, but there are a set number of question types and styles.

What to Expect from the GL 11+ Exam

The GL 11+ exam comprises of four main subjects: English, maths, spatial reasoning, and verbal reasoning. Here's what you need to know about each subject:


The English section of the exam consists of a comprehension exercise, based on either fiction, non-fiction extracts or a poem. The exercise includes questions covering the following areas:

  • Factual questions
  • Deduction and inference questions
  • Questions involving figurative language
  • Understanding the purpose, audience and structure of texts
  • Knowing different word groups
  • Making personal judgments or forming an opinion on the extract or poem
  • In addition, the English section can cover sentence completion, grammar, and spelling questions. Usually, these questions in a GL test are presented in a multiple-choice format.


The maths section of the GL 11+ exam relates to the Key Stage 2 National Curriculum but covers topics across the whole syllabus. Students should be familiar with year 6 objectives such as:

  • Number
  • Measurement
  • Data
  • Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Percentages
  • Ratio
  • Proportion

The exam will often present the questions in a word problem format, and the other common occurrence is setting questions on interpreting data.


Reasoning exams can be in multiple different formats and depends on the local authority of your target school:

Spatial Reasoning:
The spatial reasoning section looks at how children can manipulate shapes and space in their head. Examples include fold and punch, hidden shapes, and complete the shape. Generally, the question bank nature of the GL exam makes it easier for children to prepare for.

Verbal Reasoning:
Within verbal reasoning, GL have often used 21 verbal reasoning question types. These could involve word, number, code-related or logical questions.

Non-Verbal Reasoning:
Non-Verbal Reasoning questions test how well children deal with new and unusual information without using words. The non-verbal reasoning questions test the student's ability to spot similarities and differences. Examples include odd one out, analogies, and find the shape that is most alike. Studying a pattern and identifying a missing shape are skills involved in matrices and sequences. Some questions may involve vertical or horizontal codes, where the expectation is to match parts of a shape with a letter or letters. The mentioned question types are all two-dimensional (2D).

How to Best Prepare for the GL 11+ Exam

To excel in the GL 11+ exam, here are some useful tips:

1. Familiarize yourself with the question types. Through practice and preparation, it is possible for children to become familiar with particular question types used in the GL exam. This knowledge will help them identify what the question is asking and approach the answer efficiently.

2. Understand the format of the exam.

3. Joining Ivy Education for one of our online small group 11+ Grammar School Revision Courses will provide excellent preparation for the Granada Learning (GL) exams, focused on exam technique.

Interested in learning more?

Read through our other 11+ Grammar School Articles below:

What is the difference between the GL and CEM 11+ Grammar School Admissions Exams?

Can you prepare for the 11+ Grammar School CEM (Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring) Exam? (coming soon)