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We don’t believe the 7 plus exam should be a daunting prospect for your child. Our experienced tutors will develop the skills they need in a relaxed, enjoyable way.
The 7 Plus exam is part of a process of admissions for children to enter competitive Prep schools, often from a different Pre-Prep or state primary school. Children sit the exam in the January of Year 2. It is usually the first significant academic test a child takes. Although this seems early to sit formal exams, parents often choose this entry point hoping to avoid the stress of 11 Plus entry. The admissions process will also include a reference from the child’s current school and an interview with the Head.
The child’s academic performance in the exam is usually the deciding factor in determining whether they are offered a place, particularly for more academic schools. However, all schools are looking for children that they would like to teach, who will be happy and thrive in their school environment and who will make the most of the opportunities afforded to them at the school.
Unlike the 11 Plus, where schools often use an external exam board to set their exams, Prep schools usually set their own 7 Plus exam. The exam traditionally consists of a Mathematics Paper and an English paper, each of around 45 minutes. However, we are seeing more and more schools adding an element of Reasoning to their 7 Plus exams. This is intended to identify academic potential, rather than selecting children who have simply learned extra work.
The 7 Plus maths paper correlates quite closely with the Year 2 National Curriculum Maths Syllabus. However, because the exam is sat halfway through Year 2, your child must learn the remainder of the Year 2 Maths topics before they have been taught in class. For the most competitive schools, 7 Plus questions will include topics from Year 3 and beyond. The majority of the paper involves mental arithmetic and tests the four operations. Additionally, it will typically include mathematical puzzles and wordy maths problems to unpick and solve. As a rule of thumb, ensure your child has covered the following topics confidently.
7 Plus English papers tend to strongly focus on comprehension and creative writing. For this age group, comprehensions tend to require children to pick out relevant facts and answer questions in full sentences. Children need to be taught this technique and practice it. Pre-Preps may have started this work, but children at state primaries may need to learn this from scratch for their 7 Plus exam.
For the Creative Writing element of the 7 Plus exam, children are often asked to carry on a story that is given to them, or are shown a story prompt such as an image and asked to write a story based upon this. Marks are awarded for an appropriate and relevant story, with a beginning, middle and end, legible handwriting, and good use of age-appropriate grammar. Children are expected to write a story 1-2 pages long.
Verbal Reasoning is, for the 7+, 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 may have 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 in an age appropriate way.
Verbal Reasoning tests a child’s understanding of the complexity and nuance of language. By far the best long-term preparation for Verbal Reasoning success is to create a daily reading habit with your child. Vocabulary acquisition is a slow process and cannot be crammed into a few months at the end of Year 2.
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 but can certainly improve and should practice all iterations of the test.
Beyond formal practice questions, all the following will develop your child’s understanding of 3D shapes and number patterns:
Promoting a positive and playful approach will help achieve stress-free success.
A major factor in deciding whether to enter your child for the 7+ is their educational maturity at the end of Year 1 and over the summer before Year 2. Applications tend to open in the September of Year 2 and simply put, many children will not be ready to take formal exams a few months later. Look for signs that your child is academically ready so this won’t be too much of a stretch for them. This is particularly important as it is difficult to train small children intensively and the work for the 7+ needs to be achieved in small, gentle increments. As an absolute minimum your child should have:
There can be an enormous difference in emotional and educational maturity between a September born child and an August one, after all they are a whole year older. Schools recognise this and want to offer places to children who are born throughout the year. Most schools therefore weight the results of the exams to balance up younger children’s results against those of older children.
However, we believe there is more of a problem with emotional maturity when it comes to summer-born children being ready to sit the 7+ exam. They are often, in our experience just not ready for an event so out of their comfort zone. They may not have the concentration or focus for the extra academic work required to pass. Also, their motor skills may be less developed and therefore they may not be able to write fast enough. If you feel this is the case for your summer-born child, you can always opt for the 8+, 9+ or wait for the 11+ if you feel they will be more ready by this age.
Given the competitive nature of the 7 Plus, particularly for London day schools, and the fact that the exams itself pull in the syllabus from years 2 and 3 that no child will be taught in time, there is a need for someone to prepare your child for the 7 plus exam. This may be your child’s current school, you as parents and/or a tutor. Tuition at such a young age is always a contentious topic and we understand that parents may baulk at imposing such pressure on their six year olds. Our advice is to be realistic about what you as parents can achieve consistently week in week out and make sure that at least some family time remains for relaxation and fun. However you decide to prepare, lessons should be light-hearted and fun and in gentle increments.
At Mentor, our 7 Plus tutors tend to be qualified primary school teachers who know the National Curriculum for years one, two and three well. We select tutors for their warmth, integrity and educational beliefs.
Contact us for expert advice about 7+ tuition, Academic Assessments and the next steps for your child.