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The 11 Plus is a catch all name for an entrance exam for senior school. The 11 Plus is used by independent schools, grammar schools and in some cases state schools to select candidates. Usually, schools take a cohort from the children who perform best in the test. However, sometimes schools use the exam to take children in a range of academic bands. Typically, children have an 11 Plus tutor to help them prepare for the 11 Plus.
If you are thinking of entering your child for the 11 Plus, we advise you not to underestimate this undertaking. Even if your child is bright, top of the class, has an 11 Plus tutor, and you are very motivated to support them, this will be a serious, stressful undertaking, which will consume 12 months of your life. Do not make the mistake of entering your child in a light-hearted way, working through a few Bond Books with them and hoping all will be well on the day. 80% of children who sit for 11 Plus exams have at least one 11 Plus tutor. Many are already in Prep schools that live or die by their 11 Plus results and push their pupils two years ahead in the curriculum. These children have 11 Plus tutors as well.
To help your child run their best 11 Plus race requires commitment, investment and most importantly of all, a plan. Here at Mentor Education, we and our 11 Plus tutors have been helping children for over 40 years with London 11 Plus exams. Our institutional knowledge and experience has led us to develop a comprehensive 11 Plus programme, with years of successful results under our belt.
Here’s what we don’t believe in – having a phone call or a few emails with you, handing you over to a tutor and leaving you to it.
Our 11 Plus programme is not for everyone. It’s a full support programme, where we get to know you and your child and work with you intensively. We don’t agree to work with all families. Instead, we want to know that you are right for us and that you will benefit from what we offer. We want to discuss if the 11 Plus is right for your child and will not place undue stress on them.
Once you are on board, we will then take you on your 11 Plus journey of 12 months, taking your child through every stage we know they need to go through to succeed. You have a trusted partner to talk to who will know exactly where your child is and where they need to get to. The fundamental goal of our meticulously planned 11 Plus programme is to guide your family’s journey so well that it genuinely alleviates the mental pressure from you as a parent.
Passing the 11+ requires thorough preparation and hard work, beginning in Year 5. Every year we talk to parents who did not get into their target school. Almost always it is because no one told them that they needed to start their journey a year before and then run it like a campaign. If you plan it right, and you give your child enough time, you stand the best chance of ending it with success. Spacing your campaign over a year also minimises the pressure on your child who is, undoubtedly, too young to cram.
In terms of 11 Plus tutoring, typically, the journey starts in January of Year 5 with around one hour of tutoring. This then increases to two hours a week of tutoring in the summer term and then three hours of tutoring in the Autumn term of Year six. This may feel like a lot – but you have one chance.
Additionally, you cannot overlook exam technique when preparing for the 11+. We all know of people who know the content but let themselves down on the day through poor exam technique. Exam technique is a learned skill that young children tend to struggle with, which is why we recommend honed 11 Plus tutoring. There is no point in doing practice papers at home or school if your child is cementing bad habits, they need specific guidance to make the most of their limited time in the exam.
Holidays represent crucial opportunities to either cover more of the syllabus or to reinforce learning throughout Years 5 and 6. Most children take 11 Plus courses in the Easter holidays, Summer Holidays and the final Autumn half term. Summer holidays are also an excellent opportunity to work on creative writing skills – creating a mental bank of stories so they can go into their English exams full of confidence.
We offer a range of these courses, and we find that our most successful students are those who do these courses to reinforce the progress made at school and with an 11 Plus tutor.
Our specialist team of 11 Plus tutors have insight into the admissions process at many leading independent and grammar schools. Many are themselves senior teachers and heads of department at some of London’s leading schools. They have personal experience of the particular demands of the latest exams – including the ISEB exam, which has become increasingly popular since it was used by many schools successfully during lockdown. We also offer graduates from the best universities. These tutors have recent memories of their own school exams and enjoy building relationships with younger pupils.
Our 11 Plus tutors follow our Mentor Education 11 Plus curriculum and use our own in-house tests and assessments in addition to the gold standard Cambridge University CEM Test. This ensures your child is always properly benchmarked and our 11 Plus Co-Ordinator regularly monitors their progress centrally. Our 11 Plus Co-ordinator will step in to offer support and guidance whenever it is helpful or necessary. They are also always available for you to phone or email them. The more we know about how your child is getting on the more we can tailor our programme to get the best out of them.
Our engaging tuition sessions will instil a sense of self-confidence in your child. We will equip them with the knowledge, the skills and the level of focus they need to succeed in their entrance exams and interviews.
All our 11 Plus tutors come with teaching and school entrance experience. All are reference checked and have up-to-date DBS certificates. Additionally, wherever possible we will match you with a tutor who has taught at the school that your child is applying to.
For the 11 Plus school entrance exams, your child needs to have mastered the entire Year 6 English and Maths syllabus, practised all types of Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning, taken several mock practice papers to practice exam technique, and prepared for their interview. This takes time, and efforts need to be sustained consistently in the lead-up to exam day. Your child must also learn effective exam technique. This may not be given sufficient focus or even be taught at you child’s primary school, particularly in the State Sector.
Additionally, some exams may be in a format unfamiliar to your child, such as multiple choice or digital. They may contain content that has not been taught and intentionally include questions that no children will have seen before. For example, scholarship questions at the back of the 11 Plus Maths papers are often approaching GCSE standard. Your child must have experience and practice coping with curve balls, so they are not thrown off on the day. The 11 Plus process tests not only knowledge and skills but also the ability to work under pressure and adapt to new situations.
We have found that using an 11 Plus tutor is the most effective way to secure a place for your child at the Senior School of your choice. In 2020, our specialist tutors helped 90% of our students secure an offer from their first choice Secondary School, while 100% were placed at either their first or second choice. Our 11 Plus tutoring is designed to be fun and dynamic for children. We do not overwhelm or overwork them. Instead, through our 11 Plus programme and curriculum, we offer specific guidance teaching each child exactly what they need to pass the exam, using methods that they find effective and engaging.
11 Plus exams normally include Maths, English, Verbal, and Non-Verbal Reasoning. Unfortunately for young pupils, one must prepare for these these all need to be prepared for separately and thoroughly. As a parent, you will need to consider how your specific target schools structure their 11 plus exam. It is important to know what formats and subjects your child needs to practice so you can tailor your 11 plus tutoring to each specific exam.
Some over-subscribed schools make a first cut of candidates using a Pre-Test early in the Autumn of Year 6. Typically, schools cut half their candidates at this point. Pre-Tests are generally digital Reasoning exams. They tend to be extremely time pressured – so effective exam technique is vital! There are many claims that Reasoning exams test children’s innate abilities and therefore are “tutor proof”. However, we know this is simply not the case.
The 11 plus Maths exam tracks the National Curriculum, but crucially, the whole of the Year 6 curriculum is included in the 11 plus syllabus. It is vital to understand that your child must know the whole Year 6 Maths syllabus. If your child goes to a state school, this will have to be taught to your child externally. If you do not prioritise this, your child will not have covered the necessary topics. Prep schools may teach their 11 Plus cohort the whole Year 6 syllabus, but this is not guaranteed.
Most 11 plus English exams consist of a comprehension question and a creative writing exercise. We believe that English is the subject where it is most important to tailor your preparations to the specific schools you are targeting. Many schools have past papers on their websites and we have compiled a number of past and sample papers for you. Download these and look at the style of questions, the types of texts selected for comprehensions and story stimuli used. We also have a range of 11 plus practice papers available for you to download in pdf format. However, we cannot overstate the importance of reading at home in preparation for the 11 plus. Make sure to check out our 11+ reading lists.
Verbal Reasoning is, for the 11 plus, considered a test of ‘potential’. For this reason, parents often worry that they cannot help their children improve their Verbal Reasoning scores. This is absolutely not the case! Although your child will start with a natural affinity for the subject, there are a finite number of types of Verbal Reasoning questions. It is easy to practice and improve on them all if you start early and work systematically. Verbal Reasoning tests a child’s understanding of the complexity and nuance of language.
Non-Verbal Reasoning is also considered a test of ‘potential’ and is connected to numeracy, testing children’s understanding of number patterns and spatial awareness. As with Verbal Reasoning, each child will have a natural affinity for this topic. However, they can certainly improve and should practice all iterations of the test.
Once children have mastered the 11+ syllabus they need to practice questions exhaustively. This is because many of the marks available are interpretive. For example, your child may know how to perform a long division sum, but in a wordy question about how many children have certain quantities of sweets, first they need to understand that long division is the operation that needs to be performed and then they need to understand how to set up the correct sum. This is just a question of building up skills and experience, there is no short cut.
In addition to the entrance exam, your child may have to attend an interview. Schools are now placing more importance on how well children communicate, therefore the interview stage of 11 Plus entrance has become even more crucial. Your child will need to demonstrate logical reasoning, mental maths, knowledge of current affairs, evidence of an inquiring mind and be able to present themselves well. Interviews may take place in person or on Teams or Zoom. Needless to say, this is a lot for an average 10 year old to take on. Our 11 Plus tutors can help alongside our structured interview skills curriculum.
Our academic assessments are the perfect way to kick off your 11 plus journey. Our assessment is a digital test for your child to sit at home that covers the same academic disciplines as the 11 Plus exam. We chose to work with the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) at Cambridge University. This is because this department is effectively the Exam Board for the 11 Plus and they write over 70% of all 11 Plus exams on behalf of schools and local authorities. We believe their CEM tests gives the best correlation to a child’s performance in their real 11 Plus exams.
We write an extensive report detailing both your child’s current attainment level and their academic potential once the CEM test has been completed. This is consistently one of our most popular services and an excellent diagnostic tool for parents seeking to thoroughly understand their child’s ability relative to their peers, and hence which schools they should be aiming for.
Because our academic assessments are Cambridge University CEM tests, they can offer you data points of the highest quality available, so you can make highly informed decisions about your child’s future. The CEM tests are the most sophisticated tests available. They offer the most statistically meaningful data from the largest data pools of UK school children. Therefore, you can place your child’s academic ability in all tested 11+ areas in comparison to their wider peer group.
The assessment is also a great way to identify gaps in knowledge, therefore informing the most targeted, effective tutoring. It can also help you place your child in the correct school, where they are sure to thrive.
Get ahead of the game with our bespoke range of 11 plus exam practice papers. Created in line with the requirements of independent schools, they are written by our most senior 11 Plus Tutors. Developed with feedback from schools, teachers and children, our test papers cover three levels – Starter, Intermediate and Difficult.
Our practice papers are available to download in pdf format from our website.
We run 11 Plus preparation courses throughout the year and 11 plus mock exam sessions in the run up to the real tests. They are designed to sooth nerves, build confidence and familiarise your child with exam conditions. The Mentor Education Mock Tests are marked by our most experience 11 Plus Tutors, with feedback provided on all subjects. Each child will receive detailed notes on how to raise their marks in their 11 Plus subjects at the crucial juncture before the real written papers. Our mock exams also help children gain valuable experience practicing their exam technique.
Developed by leading academics and delivered by experienced independent school teachers, our courses take place in person and online. See more information on our upcoming 11 plus course dates.
We have also developed a discrete one-day course on interview practice. This will boost your child’s confidence and improve their communication, lateral thinking and visual analysis skills. Find out more about interview practice.
We have a track record of success. Every child in our latest 11 Plus cohort gained an offer to their first or second choice school. We have a full time 11 Plus Co-Ordinator who will get to know your child and your aspirations and will smooth and support their journey. We are independently rated as the Number One tutoring agency in London by School Report Magazine and feature in the Good Schools Guide of top tutoring agencies.
Contact us for expert advice about 11+ tuition, Academic Assessments and the next steps for your child.
“For more than 35 years they have been helping students achieve places at the top London day and boarding schools.”