So you’ve chosen the schools that you want to register your child at for 11+ entry. Now what?
When embarking on your 11+ journey, it can be difficult to know where to start. We’ve set out some simple tips to help you get started.
What does the 11+ exam cover?
The 11+ consists of three papers:
- Verbal, non-verbal and spatial reasoning.
You might could speak to your child’s teachers at their primary or prep school to discern where their strengths and weaknesses are, before planning how best to approach your 11+ preparation. Following this, set out a learning timetable – perhaps just two or three hours a week at home where your child focuses on the three elements above.
11+ Maths Preparation
To get your child’s mental maths up to scratch, work on their number bonds and times tables. Ensure that basic maths skills are strong enough to help them to solve maths problems quickly. Try and make preparation fun wherever possible, short bursts of ‘10 minute Bond Practice Papers’ (available on Amazon) are subject and difficulty categorised – 10 minutes every morning and evening. Build up to longer papers as confidence grows. Achieving progressively good scores in a practice test can also reduce anxiety in the run-up to the examination. There are many online resources, however we recommend and bofa11plus.com & chuckra.co.uk, for an excellent mix of questions.
11+ English Preparation
Children who read every day will have a distinct advantage over those children who do not. Try to expose your child to some classic texts as these are disproportionally represented in 11+ comprehensions. Schools choose these texts due to their difficult vocabulary and syntax and it may throw your child unnecessarily if they have never been exposed to 19th century language and grammar – good examples of this are Little Women, Treasure Island and Oliver Twist.
To prepare for the directed writing section of the English paper, set aside an hour each week to write in different genres. Always build in ten minutes of planning time. Try and keep plots simple so as not to over complicate and remember that writing from personal experience can often produce the most honest and emotional work.
For creative writing the topics set for 11+ essays tend to have the same common themes and it is worth having a ‘stock’ story that can be used in each setting. Examples include:
- Being lost, scared or alone
- Doing something exciting or achieving something (’the best day of my life was . . . ’)
- Having an adventure
- Being in a city or in the countryside.
11+ Verbal, Non-Verbal and Spatial Reasoning Preparation
Verbal reasoning tests mainly involve reasoning with words and typically include a variety of question types that involve the production of, use of, and relations between, words.
Non-verbal reasoning tests involve reasoning with abstract figures. Some questions, for example, might look at relationships between shapes and sequences of shapes, by identifying common features from a set of figures and applying them to a new figure.
Spatial Reasoning tests are similar to non-verbal reasoning tests in that they involve reasoning with abstract figures. Question types typically involve the mental creation, retention and manipulation of visual images.
Practice for the reasoning paper is vital as questions do become familiar, and confidence will grow. Do small daily tests to keep things fresh, reward accuracy, encourage self-checking skills. We recommend the ‘10 minute Bond Practice Papers’ and there are various online resources available.
What about an 11+ tutor?
Of course, there is always the option of a tuition agency too. A tutor can help you to make sure your child’s 11+ prep is on track. The one-to-one focus of a qualified teacher is proven time and time again to improve a child’s knowledge of the syllabus and can prepare them for all aspects of the 11+ entry process. Many tuition agencies also offer additional services beyond the usual tutoring, that are well worth looking into.
Make sure to read up on our top 10 tutoring agencies.