education, Uncategorized

What is 11+ Exam Prep and is it useful?

The current government has set aside a reported £320m to increase the government’s free school programme, creating 70,000 places in 140 schools scheduled to open after 2020. With more Grammar Schools set to open alongside this initiative more and more parents are asking about 11+ prep and if their children need it.

The answer is somewhat simple. If you intend to send your child to a grammar school they will have to sit an 11+ entrance test, and as 11+ is not mandatory to be taught in schools, it is often wise to get a tutor to help your child prepare.

Parents in the UK are bombarded each year with news stories about SATs and levels and GCSE results but not much is said about 11+ entrance exams. This is probably down to the fact that it only affects an elite few who wish to get into Grammar Schools. Many private secondary schools have developed their own versions of the 11+ for their entrance examinations as well.

The test is sat during a child’s last year of primary school typically at the end of September (this usually falls within the child’s first term of year 6/7 depending on whether you live in England or Northern Ireland respectively) to determine the child’s cognitive ability in a range of areas, namely Verbal Reasoning and Non Verbal Reasoning.

Verbal reasoning explained

Verbal reasoning simply put is thinking with words. The exam usually involves: word problems, following written instructions to come up with a solution, spotting letter sequences and cracking letter and number based codes. These exams are a test of skill, rather than that of learned knowledge.

The best thing you can do to improve your child’s verbal reasoning is to encourage them to read, this builds their vocabulary and therefore they are more likely to do well in test questions about: antonyms, finding words within words, and spotting patterns.

One does not always need a tutor as a quick fix parents may opt to buy Bond Books to practice 11+ style questions or one could play word games and quizzes, for example, spotting the odd one out from a list of words, giving a synonym or antonym for a word, solving anagrams. Word searches and games such as Hangman, Scrabble and Boggle are also good at building verbal reasoning skills.

Non-Verbal Reasoning Explained

Non-verbal reasoning tests have children analyse visual information and solve problems using visual reasoning. Questions are often centred around identifying relationships between objects, spotting similarities and differences between shapes and patterns and recognising visual sequences. To help children in this area parents are advised to purchase Bond Books which help teach the children what to look out for. Some children have a natural inclination when spotting patterns and find this section of the test relatively easy. However for children who are not visual learners this may prove to be the trickiest part of 11+ to master and in those cases a tutor would be beneficial.

To book a free initial consultation to start your child on the right learning journey please email

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