11 essential knows on how to approach the 11+ exams

It’s that time of year again and the daunting 11+ exams are around the corner. I will be providing a comprehensive guide and hopefully answer all your questions!

  1. What is the 11+ exam?

The 11+ is a selective entrance examination for both grammar and private schools to determine which students will be attending their secondary school.

2. When do I need to sign up?

Each school has a different deadline but across the board it is usually before July in year 5.

3. When does the exam take place?

The examination takes place around September in year 6. (For specific dates make sure you look at the school examination timetable and be sure to make sure you have registered for the exam as mentioned above)

4. What is the CEM & GL Exam?

Although both exams cover English,Maths,Verbal & Non-verbal reasoning they have a few key differences. Make sure you know which exam, or both your child will be sitting.

GL covers verbal, non-verbal reasoning, English & Maths. CEM covers verbal, non-verbal and numerical reasoning. However within verbal reasoning, the GL English component is tested and within the numerical reasoning the GL maths component is tested.

I will be posting more on the differences and how to prepare for each exam in future posts. It is important to know the format of the exams and what they entail in order to best prepare.

5. Does having a tutor help my child’s chances?

So to put it simply having a tutor who knows how to guide your child through is helpful, yes. Does the tutor know how the exam is set, maybe?

For GL examinations, there are lots of resources and kind of a set criteria which allows tutors to really help students, so yes having a tutor who knows what they are doing will help.

The reason I say maybe is because on the other hand CEM exams were introduced due to there being an “unfair advantage” for students being “taught to test”. The 11 Plus exams had become too transparent. As a result CEM do not publish any material and change the format of the exam yearly. Does this mean it is so unpredictable that a tutor will not help, no. A tutor who has experience and has guided students through it before have a rough idea but cannot guarantee.

6. How do I pick a school?

Educational Authorities suggest a school should be no more that 90 minutes away from your home. I personally would say to look closer to home and then start branching out.

Make a list of schools – ones that require an 11+ examination entry test and ones that don’t. Keep your options open!

Do your research! Attend open days, speak to other parents or friends children who are at the school.

Speak to your child! It is so important to inform and create a share agenda with your child. For them to own it and to understand the decisions that are made with them. Take them for a visit to each school so they can have an opinion and decide what they want to do. It will also give them a goal to work towards if they like a particular school!

7. When should I prepare my child?

Starting your kid nice and early is never a good thing. We always have parents sending their children to our centre at 5 years old expecting us to prepare them for the 11+. Its counter-productive and your child may just be burnt out by the time they get to the exam.

Starting at the beginning of Year 5 is optimal to get a child ready and with the best opportunity to achieve. A minimum of 12 months is needed overall but it depends again on individual students.

8. How to avoid stress?

Eat well, sleep well. These are the two most important ways to avoid stress.

Parents need to have a balance of wanting best for their child and being supportive of their needs. You know your child best and whether to put them through a process such as the 11+ is the best decision or not.

9. Positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement means giving something to your child when they perform the desired action so they associate the action with the reward and do it more often. The reward is a reinforcing stimulus and is a really important factor in the wellbeing of your child and to have them work at their best.

10. Contingency plans

So your child didn’t get into their choice of school. It’s not the end of the world. It is a very gruelling and hard process. A child should never feel like they have ‘let their family down’. It happens. It will always happen, but having a backup plan allows you to channel that energy in finding the right place for your child.

Have a backup plan. A choice of non 11+ entrance examination schools should already be on your list of schools. Start there and work on which one will best suit your child’s needs.

11. Support

Be positive. Be encouraging. Be supportive. We see many parents stress out but one thing that we have seen is parents who show stress to their kids it really does rub off on them and can impair performances.

I hope these very brief 11+ essential knows have given you a summary of what to expect from the 11+ exams. Leave a comment below if you found this information valuable, or if we have missed something you think might be crucial to parents starting their child on the 11+ journey! We are happy to take any questions or get in contact with us for FREE advice on how to prepare your child for the 11+ exam.

Good Luck!

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