"It was a pleasure to welcome Olivia into our home each week, as she is such a delightful person, and really helped both our daughters prepare for the entrance exams in a relaxed but focused way. I can’t recommend her tutoring skills highly enough.”
11+ Exam Preparation
Senior School Entrance
2023: Completed SLT Foundation Training in SEND
2016-2017, East 15, Acting School, (Distinction)
2013-2015, University of Bristol. Physiology & Pharmacology, (2:2) Extenuating circumstances.
2011-2013, University of Bristol. Veterinary Science
2006-2011, Wycombe Abbey School. A-Levels (Biology A*, Chemistry A, English Literature A, Maths A and GCSEs (Biology A*, Chemistry A*, Physics A*, Maths A, English Literature A*, English Language A, History A*, French A*, Drama A)
I have been working as a tutor since 2017, supporting students with English and preparations for their Entrance Exams at 10+, 11+ or 13+. I believe my core strength as a tutor is my ability to communicate with my students about the areas they find difficult. I strive to develop lessons which will develop an understanding of the concepts my students find tricky – often there is a key detail which hasn’t landed somewhere along the way. I don’t want my students to continually apply a set method without understanding the theory behind it, so we discuss how we do an exercise, as well as why we do it in that way. I am fascinated by the differences in each student’s approach to their work and my aim is to tailor my lessons to their learning style.
I aim to work through the required syllabus I am covering with each student, going through the theory and then practice exercises. If any areas present themselves as “tricky”, I like to spend extra time on them and construct exercises to approach them together, working from a comfortable level, to more challenging questions. Around this, I work to develop core skills in that subject (spelling, vocabulary and times tables, for example). In the lead up to any exams, I really use practice papers as a tool to expose students to different question types.
I consider it part of my job to arrive at each lesson with energy, humour and passion. I want my students to leave my classes feeling invigorated and positive. I know that after a day at school they may not be excited about going into tutoring, so the lessons need to engage and reward them. My goal is to connect with students as individuals and support them towards success.
I support students in the following areas:
- 10+, 11+ and 13+ entrance exams (English, Maths, Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning)
- GCSE or IGCSE English Literature and Language
- A Level English
I have supported students in their admission to: St. Paul’s, Wycombe Abbey, Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Harrow, LEH, Latymer Upper, Kings College Wimbledon, Emanuel, Harrodian, Bradfield, Shiplake College, Ibstock, Putney High, Wimbledon High, Notting Hill and Ealing, Tiffin Girls’ School, Sutton Grammar School, Kew House, St. Catherine’s and others.
Below are some examples of my recent tutoring experience.
I worked with Hector as he approached the 10+ exams. We studied Maths, English, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. His focus could be distracted, so we did little bits of each subject over a one-hour lesson each time. The variety helped keep him engaged. We also did lots of creative writing around Vikings, which he was always keen to write about. He struggled, either getting lost in description, or in events. Finally, we went through the syllabus together and when Hector didn’t know what something was or wasn’t sure how he would answer a question on it, we would stop and work on it together. As a result of our work together, Hector’s mother informed me that his CAT scores improved dramatically.
Year 4, 11+
Student M and I began working together when she was in year 4. She was exceptionally shy and doubted her suggestions in class. Originally, it was difficult to get her input in lessons, because she was so quiet, but she was clearly keen to learn. We worked together towards her 11+ exams, covering the syllabus for Maths and exploring the technique for English Comprehension and Creative Writing, supported by grammar skills. M’s Maths was much stronger than her English and she struggled with reading the question sometimes. We worked with highlighting, technique questions, like checking the question a final time before writing the answer and leaving questions that were too challenging.
Not knowing the answer worried M, so we spoke a lot about circling and coming back, allowing her mind to work on it while she was looking at other questions. In reality, this stopped her spiralling into a panic, allowing her to manage time and keep a clear head. We practised with plenty of past Maths and English papers in the approach to her exams, putting her knowledge and technique to the test. Timing could be difficult, so we sped up M’s work in stages, using repetition and time check-ins. Following her 11+ exams, M received offers for interview from all the schools she had applied to, which was a fantastic academic achievement.
Year 3 and 4, Maths and English
Student H and I worked together while he was in Year 3 and 4. At this stage, it is important to get foundational skills in a comfortable place, to support students’ work in Year 5 and 6, where there is a jump in complexity, as well as potential entrance exams. For Maths, this includes arithmetic and spatial understanding and in English, this includes reading comprehension and core grammar concepts, such as parts of speech, spelling sound groups and tenses. H was a bright student and we were able to cover questions a bit further beyond the topics he was covering at school, such as long multiplication with 3 digits by 2 digits, rather than 2 digits by 2 digits. H often felt doubt if he couldn’t identify the first step to a question, so I worked using plenty of practice and encouragement, initially guiding him through a question, before gradually removing my input. In this way, H proved to himself he could answer questions on his own, meaning his confidence and willingness to “have a go” improved dramatically in the time we worked together.
Year 5 English & 11+ Exam Preparation
I originally started teaching Honor when she was going into Year 5 because she was struggling with English. Her parents had established that she was extremely long-sighted in one eye a few weeks before our lessons and they believed it was having an effect on her English ability. I noted that Honor was not confident with punctuation or vocabulary, even though she had read a lot. When she read aloud, the sentences were not separated, and she explained that she didn’t pay much attention to punctuation. Frankly, I think it is because it was so blurry before! There was also a question of whether Honor was dyslexic, although she was never tested and her parents decided to tackle the learning affected by her sight, before looking into anything else. We worked on basic grammar skills and punctuation skills, as well as word puzzles for synonyms to expand her vocabulary. We also looked into comprehension skills, as she was happy to read but did not like to offer an opinion or explanation about what was going on. Honor’s parents decided to prepare her for the 11+, to move her from the state sector to the independent sector. Her school did not prepare their students for the 11+ and Honor did not have some of the relevant skills or knowledge.
We covered the Maths syllabus, as well as English skills. We also covered verbal and non-verbal reasoning questions together. In the lead-up to the exams, Honor would do a maths paper and an English paper each week. We would mark them together in our lessons and work on tricky areas. We also worked through practice papers together, as Honor had a tendency to panic and drop any technique we had developed. We worked for two hours each week, which moved to four hours in the run-up to the exams. Energy and positivity were crucial elements to these lessons, to keep Honor feeling motivated and fulfilled by the work, rather than resenting it. She was always happy to go into our lessons together, which was a lovely feeling. Honor worked very hard and secured a place at Kew House following the 11+ exams.
Year 5 English and 11+ Exam Preparation
I originally started teaching Izzy to support her English as she moved into Year 5, as she found it boring and didn’t like to sit and work on it by herself. I soon realised she found it difficult to structure her creative writing, often beginning with big ideas that were too difficult to develop within the space of a few pages and getting lost in them. She also found it difficult to draw inferences from a text. We worked together on keeping her writing simple. Izzy particularly loved reading fantasy, so we had a guide of one fantastical element, which is based in the real world, as she didn’t have time to set up a world with a new set of rules. We worked on planning and structuring her writing. We looked at examples from different pieces of fiction she enjoyed and explored why they worked well, then explored how Izzy might use them. I taught Izzy for one or two hours each week, for two years. Her concentration span was a challenge, so we worked on short exercises with breaks. Izzy was successful in gaining a place at Wycombe Abbey in her 11+ exams.
Year 6 English & 11+ Entrance Exam
I started teaching Siena in the summer before Year 6, after she had missed a lot of school in Year 5 due to illness. She was a very capable student and, while she had missed out on certain skills, she mainly lacked confidence. We worked together for six months in the run-up to the 11+ and covered comprehension skills: structuring her answers; including point, evidence and explanation in each answer; time management; drawing inferences and addressing the question with relevant detail. We also covered creative writing skills: writing letters; structuring writing; planning the piece; describing pictures; figurative language and addressing the question. Siena was happy to work away for an hour and was very motivated in our sessions, so we worked together through the techniques and then, in the approach to the exams, she would cover a paper each week in her own time, which we would go through together. Eventually, I had Siena mark her own papers (because she got to use my coloured pens) and identifying where she thought she could have picked up more marks. We would then investigate that together. Siena gained places at Putney High and Kew House through her 11+ exams.
Year 7 Maths, English and Science
Jennifer was behind in her progress for Maths, English and Science in year 7. Her grades were not reflecting the work she was putting in at school and Jennifer felt this was because she was not good at the subjects. This wasn’t the case! Jennifer struggled to retain facts for Science between our lessons – the links were not intuitive to her. We worked a lot around diagrams and flashcards; as Jennifer appeared to be a very visual learner (and loved to draw). Jennifer’s confidence was very low, meaning she would not always have a go at questions she was unsure about. She also lacked some exam techniques, which was losing a lot of marks on her tests – for example, giving an answer of 8, rather than 8mm. We worked on her understanding of topics across Maths, English and Science. We also looked at specific exam techniques (such as point, evidence and explanation structure in Comprehension questions) to boost her marks in assessments.
Christian and I worked on his English for Common Entrance at 13+. He struggled with spelling and checking his punctuation. We worked together on inference and language analysis questions in particular, as he struggled to explain how he had drawn conclusions from the text. We also looked at creative writing questions, including far more description of the character’s senses to tell the story, rather than directly stating events, as this would come across better and carry more marks. We discussed the fact that doing well in an exam is about understanding what an examiner is looking for and what they are able to give marks for. As a naturally analytical person, I think this made sense to Christian. He secured places at Bradfield and Shiplake.
We continued to work together on his Key Stage 3 English, looking at the novel Lord of the Flies together. We analysed themes, investigated characters and identified useful quotations to make points around these. Christian struggled initially to understand how to link points together for extended questions, which build up to paragraphs for essay questions in the future. Through an exploration of structure based on point, evidence, explanation and link, Christian was able to significantly develop his ability to express his thoughts on the text.
Georgia was in her first year of approaching her GCSE exams at Francis Holland and felt “stupid” in English lessons. We worked together for a term, developing her understanding of poetry analysis, while she studied The World’s Wife. We looked at the context of the poems, how their structure influenced their meaning and figurative language. We broke each poem down line by line, so Georgia really had the time to understand them and form opinions on them. After our lessons, Georgia said she felt more confident in her lessons and felt prepared to write an essay on the poems.
Student D and I worked together after a move over from the US. He felt he did not know what he needed to do in his UK exams to do well in his GCSEs. We covered language analysis, which he found difficult, looking at different extracts and establishing what was effective in them. We then practised phrasing points that were supported appropriately, in a format that would allow him to collect high marks, according to his exam board’s criteria. He was reluctant to speak up or offer opinions in our sessions, but as they progressed, he became more confident in phrasing his opinions and ideas with increasing frequency, which was excellent to see. He reported that his grades had improved in his practice essays at school following our sessions. He received an 8 in his English GCSE.
IGCSE English Language and Literature
Student Y and I worked together in the run-up to her iGCSE exams. Following an ADD diagnosis and illness in the family, this student’s confidence in her own ability was severely affected and she was anxious about the approaching exams. We worked together on the technique required of her for the upcoming exams, so she knew how to write answers that achieved high marks and could check for herself if she had met these criteria. This gave her the security of being able to observe for herself if her essays were sufficient. We practised past paper questions extensively, so she felt able to go into the exam with familiarity and self-assurance. As a result, she reported that the exams went “very well” and that she was “confident in both”. She received a 9 in English Literature and an 8 in English Language.
English and Maths GCSE, Temporary Homeschooling
I worked with Luko while he was away from school with severe illness. We covered English and Maths in the run-up to his GCSEs, as his parents were concerned about him falling behind. We worked on his course text “The Woman in Black”, exploring themes, character, language and useful quotations. We also looked into the crucial writing techniques to achieve high marks at GCSE, including structure, effective language analysis, clear points, suitable links between thoughts and supported inferences. Luko was able to return to school without falling behind, so he could continue to work towards his GCSEs with his peers.
Hobbies and Interests
Outside of tutoring, I am incredibly passionate about theatre and run a theatre company. The huge amount of teamwork that is required to create new theatre with my company, as well as the organisation required to keep us all up to date and moving forwards, is a continuous challenge! It is also incredibly fulfilling for the same reason and I find it keeps me compassionate. When I am not teaching, or in rehearsals, you can find me in the woods with my dog, spotting seasonal wildflowers, or in my kitchen, cooking something (hopefully) delicious!
“We appreciate the effort and dedication you have put into helping D prepare for the exam, and we have seen positive progress during the time she has spent under your guidance. D is scheduled to sit her 11+ assessment in November, and we believe that she has received comprehensive preparation under your guidance. We would like to express our gratitude for your support.”
Parent of 11+ Preparation student
“Thank you so much for all your help in making M feel more confident with English. She really enjoys the sessions with you, even after a long day of school and sport so thank you for all your efforts and for inspiring her.”
Parent of GCSE English student
“We are all delighted, what a wonderful joint achievement – thank you so very much! She has come such a long way since working with you, I’m not sure her teachers can quite believe it! This is wonderful, both for her chances of getting in to he chosen university and also for her self-confidence. Please keep doing what you are doing – you have no idea of the value!”
Parent of A Level English student