Discover our top tips for the 11 Plus in this article - from when your child should start preparing for their exam to how to find an 11 Plus tutor and more expert advice.
Private Tutors for the 11 Plus
Simply Learning Tuition introduce the highest calibre of private tutors to support your child through their 11 Plus. Every tutor we introduce has thorough knowledge of 11+ English, Maths and verbal and non-verbal reasoning, and many also have experience working in the UK’s leading independent and grammar schools. To ensure your child fully benefits from 11 Plus tuition, we will only introduce private tutors suited to their personality and learning style. We believe this is the key to unlocking your child’s potential and to giving them the confidence to excel in their exams.
Sophie Taylor Barthorpe, SLT's Director of Tuition explains what is needed for 11 Plus tuition to be effective.
We take a strategic approach to the 11 Plus entrance exam and believe that effective preparation should start at least 12 months before the examination. With many schools insisting on one or more pre-tests, it is important to know exactly what your child will be expected to do and when. We recommend an initial assessment to work out where to focus tuition - or if indeed tuition is required in the first place. An assessment will allow you to know how realistic your choice of school is - and how far your child is from the pass mark.
Tutors introduced by Simply Learning Tuition have been helping students excel at the 11 Plus for over a decade. Because we know every tutor that we introduce personally, we are able to guarantee that the match with your child will be perfect. Tutors recommended by Simply Learning are highly vetted, inspiring and dependable. When you review the tutor’s profile you will be able to see a full list of the schools they have had success with, as well as testimonials from their students.
The 11+ exam, which governs admission to many independent and grammar schools, has been one of the key points in a young person’s life for some 40 years. It typically comprises of literacy, numeracy, verbal and non-verbal reasoning, although the assessment often varies by school. Working with a tutor who is well versed in the 11plus entry examinations for the schools that you are applying to is paramount.
We usually recommend 12 to 18 months of gentle preparation for the 11 plus exam, starting in the Autumn or Spring term of Year 5. However, this really depends on your child and their current attainment levels. Your son or daughter may only need a few hours of exam practice, and a confidence boost, or if there are any deeper learning gaps, or significant obstacles, they might need several months of regular weekly tuition. The good news is that any support focused on the 11+ will pay dividends for your child’s schoolwork.
The 11+ English paper can be challenging for most adults, let alone 10-year-olds. It involves composition and comprehension that requires them to be confident about ‘writing from the heart’. In our experience this is where many children – particularly boys – lose marks. The effective and constructive communication of emotions are not usually a strong point at that stage, which is why many boys’ schools work on a 13+ entry system, which boys sit when they are more developed. An excellent way to improve verbal dexterity is to tell, or read, your child a story and then talk about it afterwards. Get them to describe to you what happened and explain how it made them feel. As well as helping them to unlock their emotions, effective story-telling brings a satisfying increase in marks. From our experience, girls tend to have better accuracy, creativity and consistency with punctuation that allows them to achieve better grades on composition papers.
You need to make sure that your child understands the core concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division – and can apply this knowledge under pressure, particularly in problem solving type questions. Their knowledge should be strong and extensive, but flexible. To help your child solidify their knowledge of maths, go over times tables regularly using games, cards and posters. Encouraging them to be alert and thinking outside of the classroom gives you the opportunity to make learning fun!
Some people believe these test innate ability and therefore cannot be coached. However, we believe it is vital to provide opportunities for practice, which is easily done as there are plenty of books on sale. There is no magic to it, but if the child has not seen this type of question before the exam they will likely be completely thrown. A tutor can approach a wide range of reasoning problems with a child. Even if these exact problems are not on the exam, the student will know how to deal with the unexpected, having practiced methods of thinking and rationalising larger concepts.
Anything you can do to help your child reduce the natural anxiety they may feel around the 11+ will be a good thing. One of the best things to do is a mock exam. Tutors can organise these for you and they can be fun! Alternatively, you could organise your own by hiring a hall, or going to a house that is unfamiliar to your child, with a group of other children (even better if those children are unknown to each other) and taking a mock test. Keep things formal, give timings and ensure everyone works in silence. Put the pressure on to work fast, and throw in a couple of unexpected questions. The aim is to help children prepare for what happens when things look unusual, and when problems arise. Then go through the papers afterwards to identify strengths and weaknesses. Bear in mind that mark schemes can be hard to understand and may need expert interpretation. Sometimes a composition piece might look good and be spelled and punctuated correctly, but has nevertheless failed to answer the question properly.
If there is an iPad in the room while your child is trying to work it can prove an easy distraction between lessons. It is not good to switch from making ‘brain and pen’ connections to computer games because both activities stimulate different parts of the brain.Your child will need to perfect the management of calm retrieval of data. They also need time to absorb information – some downtime to process the work they have completed and to let the information sink in. This is best done if breaks involve a walk or some other exercise.
If you find yourself getting nervous, remember the ultimate goal - your child's happiness. With so much riding on the outcome, most parents are quite nervous (as are school heads!). But it’s vital that you don’t convey this to your child. Aim to be relaxed and detached. Don’t push, just give gentle encouragement and explain that exams are not the be all and end all. Help your child to de-stress by making sure they take regular breaks. Tired children are also easily frustrated, and are unlikely to be able to concentrate. Remember that factors such as parents’ relationship difficulties, financial stress, bullying and illness can all affect a child’s performance in their exam. Try to protect them from the real world as much as you can.
If your child doesn’t do as well as you expected, don’t take it lying down – appeal! Grammar schools have an established process for this. For independent schools, the decision is entirely discretionary. Generally speaking you are more likely to succeed if you have the support of your child’s head teacher to confirm that the poor performance on the exam day was unexpected. But stay calm; our advice is to accept the result and praise your child for all their hard work. There are plenty of other schools that will be a good fit for your child and with a bit of help you can make a plan to get them back on the road to academic success and emotional well being.
"Because of Russell's efforts over half term, Doug's marks in his Common Entrance improved so much! I can't thank him enough".
Mrs. T, 11+ Preparation
"I found Erin to be an excellent tutor. She engages with her student and has a clear understanding as to how best to teach the child using methods they will relate to. Within a very short space if time, Erin understood how my son approached English and Maths and taught him accordingly with various plans and pointers to collect maximum marks. Erin made the whole process of the 11+ simpler and instilled great confidence in my son and the belief in himself. Always well presented, punctual and reliable. We would have no hesitation to recommend Erin to anyone".
Mrs. G, 11+ Tuition
"Doug's marks in his Common Entrance improved so much! Russell remained calm and was just brilliant. I can't thank him enough".
Mrs. R, 11+ Common Entrance Preparation
"James was offered at all 3 schools he sat exams for, including Bancroft's, Forest and Chigwell Schools. He was the only child to do this in his school. We took some time to take this in but have now accepted a place at Bancroft's school for September. Nicolas was great. He bonded with James from the start over a shared love of all things Japanese and got him laughing at the very first lesson. He was experienced with children so was able to be firm and focussed without needing to be heavy handed. James looked forward to his sessions with Nicolas as a fun time with a friend. Nicolas gave honest feedback to both James and I on his progress and this allowed me to support his efforts outside of the lessons. I would recommend him to other parents.I would like to thank Simply Learning for all the support we have received on this journey".
Mrs. A, 11+ Tuition and Preparation for Bancroft's, Forest and Chigwell
Advice for Parents
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