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.
If you are searching for an 11 Plus tutor, please call one of our tuition consultants or use our online enquiry form further down this page.
What is the 11 Plus?
The 11+ exam, which governs admission to various types of secondary school, has been one of the key points in a young person’s life for some 40 years. It comprises papers on literacy, numeracy, verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Whether you are frantically preparing for January 2018, or starting a more leisurely journey towards exams in 2019, we hope that you find the following advice helpful.
When should my child start preparing for the 11 Plus?
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 to learning due to severe lack of confidence in a specific subject or a Specific Learning Difficult, 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.
Preparing for the English Paper
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.
Preparing for the Maths Paper
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!
Preparing for Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning
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.
11 Plus Revision Advice
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.
What Can Parents Do?
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 independents, 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.
Make An Enquiry
If you are searching for an 11+ tutor for your child, please use our online enquiry form. One of our tuition consultants will reply to you shortly.
Advice for Parents
Here is a selection of the most popular Advice for Parents articles that covers a wide variety of topics and questions we have encountered advising families since 2009. You can access more articles on our Advice for Parents page by using the link below.