With over 40 years of experience, we understand the demands of the exam, and what each school is looking for.
What is on the English syllabus and how can you prepare your child for the exam? Read on for everything you need to know and our top tips.
This article is about typical English 11 Plus exams. Uniquely, for January 2020, most English written papers were replaced by the digital ISEB exam. We have more details on this in our guide to the ISEB Pre Test.
We are as yet unsure whether schools will return to their former written papers or continue with the ISEB for their entrance exams. Please call us on 020 8883 2519 for the latest update.
The English syllabus tracks the National Curriculum but accelerates Year 6. For more selective schools, it also includes the start of the Key Stage 3 curriculum. You can find out more information about this by contacting our school entrance co-ordinator or speaking to one of our experienced tutors.
The English examination is in 2 sections:
The comprehension questions will test understanding, both of what has been read and the impact of the writer’s use of language. This section is typically worth 60% of the total marks.
Children who read every day will have a distinct advantage over those children who do not. In particular, expose your child to some classic texts as these are disproportionally represented in comprehension questions. Because of their difficult vocabulary and syntax, schools often choose these texts. It may throw your child unnecessarily if they have never been exposed to 19th century language and grammar. Good examples of this are Little Women, Treasure Island, Oliver Twist etc… You may need to read a couple of chapters of these type of texts to your children to get them started and into the story.
Gaining a breadth of vocabulary is invaluable and excellent resources for story writing include the Descriptosaurus books and Mrs Wordsmith. We also recommend RSL Educational 11+ Comprehension because they have detailed specimen answers with mark allocations.
Candidates may be asked to respond to written or visual stimulus, writing a description or a section of narrative. This section is worth 40% of the marks. The prime criteria are clarity, fluency, accuracy of written expression, imaginative flair and presentation.
Set aside 1 hour each week to write in different genres, building in 10 minutes of planning time. Keep plots simple so as not to over complicate. Writing from personal experience can often produce the most honest and emotional work. Dissuade your child from complicated, forced denouements, where children typically make everybody rescued by the police at the end of every story! This is very common.
Topics set for creative writing pieces tend to have the same common themes. This is true whether you are looking at independent schools like Westminster or JAGS, or if you are looking at grammar schools. So, it is worth building a mental library of ‘stock’ stories that can be used for various titles. Given the speed demands of the English papers, anything your child has already thought through will help them to get their stories down in time. For example;
These are topics that have come up on past English papers around the country:
And finally, we cannot enough that the best at home preparation you can do is to support your child’s reading journey. You may find our reading lists and guides helpful.
We have plenty of information and top tips on the exam. Get in touch with out team today for more information.
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