Posted on 28th June 2012
As the GCSE and A Level students ebb away, having survived their exams, it’s about this time of year that lots of us tutors start filling up our diaries with students who will be going into year 6 in the autumn. Why? Well, thousands of ten and eleven year-olds will have to sit the 11+ and independent schools’ entrance exams in January. Unlike GCSEs, As and A Levels, you can re-sit these exams, and they will have an enormous impact on you or your child’s education. Those who score well will have the choice of a fantastic range of schools, and those who don’t will have much narrower options.
GCSEs and A Levels are endlessly being accused of being too easy or ‘dumbed down’, which is far from the case when it comes to the 11+. Only this weekend I read a fascinating article in the Sunday Times Magazine about how many adult celebrities failed a recent sample paper.
In order to be offered a place at most grammar schools, candidates need to achieve at least 86.5% or above in the examination. Some schools require an extraordinarily high pass rate of 98%. This is the case for some extremely selective grammar schools in Kent. Judd School is one of the most oversubscribed, with five applicants trying for every place.
Grammar schools have always been popular, but are becoming more so in light of the economic climate, and now many parents who are unable to afford to send their offspring to independent schools are opting for a grammar school education. Many of the top private schools are also seeing an increase in applicants, since parents who are paying want to ensure that they are getting value for money and that their children will receive a really fantastic education.
For Matt Rudd’s article in The Sunday Times a sample 11+ exam was set up and sat by Anthony Seldon (headmaster of Wellington), Michael Rosen (children’s author), Jo Caulfield (comedian), Adam Hart-Davis (science writer and TV presenter), Terry Deary (author of Horrible Histories), Judith Kerr (author), Justin Webb (from the Today programme), Kate Williams (Historian) and Matt Rudd (journalist). Only Rudd and Hart-Davis passed.
Sample questions included things such as:
a) Khaled, Jack, Sam, Hugo and Amrit are 15,14,13,13 and 12 years old, but not in that order, Khaled is two years older than Hugo. Jack is two years younger than Amrit. Sam is older than Hugo. Who are the twins?
b) Can you find the four-letter word hidden between the words that are next to each other in this sentence?
He was amongst the chosen few.
Although the examiners who set the 11+ say that they try and make the test ‘uncoachable’ they admit that this is not fully possible. Ultimately, as with most things, practice makes perfect, and the more familiar you are with the style f the 11+ paper, the more likely you are to do well.
If your child is sitting the 11+ or independent schools’ entrance exams in January and you’d like some advice, support or tuition, do get in touch.