Key Information on 11 Plus Exam Preparation

It’s the time of year to think about getting your information together about secondary schools and organising expert 11 plus tuition for your child, in time for the next round of 11 plus exams

Year 4 is a good time to start extra tuition for the 11 plus exams. You can start earlier (which might be necessary depending on the schools you are aiming for).  At this age it’s a more gradual process than if you start in Year 5.  Year 6 is too late. The reason is because if left until age 10, your child will have to cram information and will feel pressurised. It is a very good idea to have an independent academic assessment as it will give an indication of just how much extra tuition is needed and how much work has to be done for the 11 plus exam.

Forget about comparing your child to someone else’s son or daughter, no two children are the same and, each child will learn at their own pace and have a different level of understanding in  the various subjects. It will be easier for some to learn Non Verbal Reasoning techniques for the 11 plus exam and, for others to learn Verbal Reasoning techniques.  Be guided by the experts.

Here are some of the most common questions we are asked.

“My son’s Key stage two teacher tells me he is doing really well in class and does not need to be tutored for the 11 plus exam.  He is 9 and does get good marks in class but I am worried because I know all the other children on the ‘bright’ table have 11 plus tutors”.

We are asked this question often by parents who are entering  their children  for independent and grammar school 11 Plus entrance tests.

First of all, let’s establish whether your son is in a reputable prep school which has a reputation for excellent 11 plus exam passes or is a feeder school for an independent school. I don’t think you would have anything to worry about if that is the case, you can probably accept the advice with confidence. However, if you are speaking about a local primary school which does not  prepare pupils for the 11 plus, it would be helpful  to obtain more specific information from the teacher. Your child may not be competing with pupils in his class when he sits the 11 plus examination, but with children who have attended prep school for a number of years or have had 11 plus tutors for several years. Another matter of concern is whether your son will have to sit 11 Plus Verbal Reasoning and Non Verbal Reasoning as part of the  11 Plus exam and,  whether his school has introduced it as part of the curriculum.  If he has some knowledge of the reasoning exercises and can do them competently, then its easier to accept what you have been told.


“How do I find the right person, teacher or tutor to prepare my child for the 11 Plus Examination. There are so many options, tutors, Saturday schools, do it yourself, CD’s, books, but how do I know I am making the right choice?”

The simplest answer is to ask for a recommendation from a parent whose child has already passed their 11 plus entrance test, especially if the child  received multiple offers. Speak to someone you can trust. That is the best recommendation you can get,  and you can expect that tutor or school to be heavily be oversubscribed.   Ideally,  you should  make  enquiries early.  The reality is that many parents are very reluctant to to give any information whatsoever about tutoring.


“For the past two years I have been asking parents in the school playground if they know of good 11 plus tutors and nobody ever knows! Or they tell you that all the good tutors have been booked up months in advance. I don’t get it, either they don’t tell you, or they lie. What can I do if parents won’t share information?”

Some parents have told us that they will not share information about 11 plus tuition because it could cost their child a place, especially where pupils are competing for the same schools. It’s the fear factor due to scarcity of places in good schools.

You could ask in the school office. They may know of good 11 plus tutors, Saturday schools, or may suggest a teacher at your child’s school.  However, 11 Plus preparation is frowned on and there is a strong movement  to stamp it out altogether.

If you start 11 plus tuition early, even if the first tutor does not meet your expectations, there will be time to change to another   11 plus tutor and start again if necessary. Do the necessary research, keep your ear to the ground and find someone that your child likes and enjoys working with.