Our tutors are dedicated school entrance specialists with track records of success getting children into top London schools.
With guidance and support from our expert 11+ tutors, your child will gain the skills and confidence they need to shine on assessment day.
At Mentor, we have a wealth of knowledge in how best to prepare your child for their entrance exams. Our approach inspires confidence and encourages children to discover a natural love of learning. We pride ourselves on matching you with the perfect tutor to suit your specific needs. This is key to our service as it alleviates the stress of managing your child’s 11 plus journey. Our 11 plus tutors have helped children achieve entrance to some of London’s most competitive independent schools – so you can be sure you are in good hands.
For school entrance exams, your child needs to understand the English and Maths syllabus, practise Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning, take several mock practice papers to master exam technique, and prepare for their interview. This takes time, and efforts need to be sustained in the lead-up to exam day. Your child must learn effective exam technique, however skills such as self-timing and planning thoroughly may not be given sufficient focus or even be taught at their primary school.
Additionally, some exams may be in a format unfamiliar to your child, such as multiple choice or digital. Or, they may contain content that has not been taught at school such as Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. Your child must have experience and practice in these areas, so they are not thrown off on the day. The process tests not only knowledge but also the ability to work under pressure and adapt to new situations.
We have found that tutors are the most effective way to secure a place at Senior School. 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. External one-to-one support is particularly effective with younger children, who may not be getting personal support at their primary school. Our tutoring is designed to be fun and dynamic for children. We do not overwhelm or overwork them. Instead, we offer specific guidance teaching each child exactly what they need to pass the exam, in methods that they find effective and engaging.
Our academic assessments are the perfect way to kick off your 11 plus journey. It is a test for your child to sit at home that covers the same areas as the 11+ exam. Once taken, we write a detailed report of your child’s current academic attainment level and potential. It is an excellent diagnostic tool for parents seeking to thoroughly understand their child’s ability in comparison to their peers, and which schools they should be aiming for.
Our academic assessments are licenced Cambridge University CEM tests, which means we 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 and offer the most meaningful data from the largest data pools. This means you are able to place your child’s academic ability in all tested 11+ areas in comparison to their peers.
The assessment is a great way to identify gaps in knowledge, therefore informing the most effective tutoring. It can also help you place your child in the correct school, where they are sure to thrive.
The 11 plus exam usually contains some variation of Maths, English, Verbal, and Non-Verbal Reasoning. Unfortunately for your little one, these all need to be prepared for separately and thoroughly. You should investigate how your target schools structure their 11 plus exam, as each school is different. It is important to know what you are up against so you can tailor your tutoring to each specific exam.
Some over-subscribed schools make the first cut of candidates using a Pre-Test early in the Autumn of Year 6. Typically, schools half their candidates at this point. Pre-Tests are generally digital Reasoning exams. They also 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”, but this is simply not the case.
In 2020, children were not able to congregate in school halls to take their entrance exams because of the Pandemic. So instead, schools set digital exams. Most opted for the ISEB exam, which had for many years been used as a Pre-Test by British Boarding schools. While some schools reverted to their pre-pandemic arrangements, others stuck with the ISEB exam, used instead of or in tandem with a written long-form exam.
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 Year 6 Maths syllabus. If your child goes to a state school, this will have to be taught out of the classroom. Otherwise, your child will not have covered the necessary topics. Prep schools may teach the whole Year 6 syllabus to Year 5 applicants, but this is by no means 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.
Passing the 11+ requires thorough preparation and hard work, beginning in Year 5. Every year we help parents who did not get into the school they wanted. 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 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.
Holidays represent crucial opportunities to either cover more of the syllabus or to reinforce learning throughout Years 5 and 6. Most children do 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 a tutor.
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 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 exam halls.
Our specialist team of school entrance tutors have invaluable insight into the admissions process at various independent schools. Many are senior teachers and heads of department from some of London’s leading schools. They have personal experience of the demands of the latest exams, which now emphasise lateral thinking and problem-solving skills.
We specialise in carefully selecting a tutor that will be right for your family. With over 250 qualified DBS-checked tutors, we can cater to your personal needs and preferences to match you with an expert eager to teach your child.
Contact us for expert advice about tuition, Academic Assessments and the next steps for your child.