The Education Blog

Insight 2nd July, 2020

Where to start with the 11+?

At this point in the year, many parents are thinking about how best to approach preparing for the 11+. From the outside, this can seem like a confusing, and daunting, prospect. Fortunately, Enjoy Education is here to help!

We sat down with our 11+ expert, Rhiannon, and asked for her answers to the 11+ Frequently Asked Questions.

If you would like to arrange a consultation with one of our Education Consultants regarding support for the 11+, drop us an email at tara@enjoyeducation.co.uk – our specialist team of Primary Consultants would love to help!

WHEN SHOULD CHILDREN START PREPARING FOR THE 11+?

Whilst it’s important not to build up unduly the pressure of the 11+ exams too early on, a small amount of pre-emptive steady preparation can make the whole process far more manageable and reduces unnecessary stress. Most 11+ exams are sat in the January of Year 6, with any Pre-Testing happening the previous term. The amount of time that a student needs to prepare for these exams varies significantly depending on the schools they are applying to, their primary education, their exam-taking experience, and their ability to work well under pressure. To feel confident that they have been well-prepared in good time, many students start regular tuition at least a year in advance of the exams.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF 11+ EXAMS?

The way in which pupils are tested at 11+ is constantly evolving. Whilst most schools used to follow a traditional method of Maths exam, English Comprehension and Creative Writing exams and a Reasoning exam, we are now seeing a move towards exams testing ‘cognitive ability’, with papres becoming increasingly reasoning-based, with more multiple choice formats, and online testing. It is therefore incredibly important that you establish early on in the tutoring process which exam types you expect your child to be sitting. This can be understood by looking at the schools’ admissions page, or speaking directly to Admissions.

The five main types of exams at 11+ are:

THE ‘TRADITIONAL’ 11+ EXAM

  • Written Comprehension: testing vocabularly; understanding and inference; language analysis; spelling and grammar
  • Writing Task: most often Creative
  • Maths exam
  • Reasoning exam: Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning
  • Interview Day

NEW CONSORTIUM STYLE’ (GIRLS’ SCHOOLS ONLY)

  • Used by the Consortium Schools, this is a 70 minute, bespoke cognitive ability test
  • Handwritten, the exam is primarily multiple choice and short-answer (CEM-style)
  • Short comprehension paragraphs to assess understanding and inference
  • Heavily reasoning-based: exercises include defining synonyms/antonyms; cloze exercises; understanding definitions; and SPAG
  • Interviews for successful candidates, involving problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity

For more information, visit the London Consortium website.

THE ‘TRADITIONAL’ 11+ EXAM WITH A TWIST!

  • Elements included in the above breakdown of the ‘traditional’ 11+

HOWEVER, this may also include

  • An additional assessment
  • A Pre-Test (ISEB or other)
  • A unique way of testing a traditional element

11+ COMMON ENTRANCE

  • Written papers in English, Maths and Science – these are similar in style to the ‘traditional’ 11+
  • Usually includes Pre-Testing in either written or interview/activity formats

MULTIPLE CHOICE FORMATS AND GRAMMAR SCHOOLS, INCLUDING GL

  • Some schools now use multiple choice formats in their 11+ exams, be these their own exams, or exams supplied by assessors such as CEM or GL. It is common for Grammar School exams to be in multiple choice format, but it is important to check early on who your chosen school’s exam provider is

WHERE SHOULD TUTORING BE FOCUSED?

Initially, tutoring should focus on those areas or topics which your child find particularly challenging across the four core areas: English, Maths and Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. Ideally based on an assessment, as mentioned above, goals should be set for each half-term, and small tests done on a regular basis to make sure all the problem areas have been fixed.

Once all of the gaps have been filled, and a solid foundation has been established, the exam technique and timed practice can begin!

HOW CAN MY CHILD BALANCE WORK WITH FUN DURING THE HOLIDAYS?

Different families will have very different plans over the holidays! Some like to have a really good break, and go several weeks without doing any work, whilst others like to keep things ticking over. Many students continue with their tutors online, or on a residential basis over the school holidays. A good motto would be ‘little and often’, and here are three ways which we recommend to parents to balance work with fun:

Dividing the holiday into clear Holiday weeks and Work weeks, when children are seeing a tutor regularly, or the tutor stays with the family, and the focus is on exam preparation
Doing a couple of hours work every morning then having free time, or doing a fun project, in the afternoon
Taking a work pack on holiday, that gets sent back to the tutor on a regular basis for marking and comments, with online check-in sessions

WHEN HIRING A TUTOR, WHICH QUESTIONS SHOULD A PARENT ASK?

Are you able to prepare my child for all the different exam formats, in all subjects?

For how long are you able to commit to tutoring my child?

How do you usually work with pupils over the holidays?

Will I receive reports or regular written updates on my child’s progress?

Do I need a separate tutor for interview preparation?

Need an 11+ tutor?

For more information on how Enjoy Education can help your child on their 11+ journey, from tuition to courses to practice exams to interview prep, get in touch with an Education Consultant today.

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We’d love to discuss how we can help your family’s learning journey. Call us or email to arrange a meeting in our Knightsbridge headquarters.