How to Pass the 11 Plus Exams: A Guide for Parents

December 27, 2021
December 27, 2021 The Spark Tutoring Team

Year 11+ exam is one of the most important exams your child will do if you want them to join an illustrious grammar school.

Getting your child ready for the exam and ensuring they pass should be a priority. But passing the exam is more than just knowing the material. Sometimes, the student has to make some extra effort to give them an edge over the thousands of others competing for the same spot. Here is what you need to know about passing the 11 Plus exam.

Find Out What Exam Board Will Administer the Test

Your first challenge will be to find out which board will administer the test. It shouldn’t be hard considering there are only two boards that administer the test; The Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) and Granada Learning.

The board that administers the tests depends on where you live. Typically, the format for the tests from each board is similar, but there are differences in the material, which is why it’s critical to know the board so you can determine which material your child will need to start.

Start preparations early

It’s easy to get caught up and push preparations for the exam until it is too late. Getting started on revisions and preparations early is critical and could give the child an edge.

A study plan is a great place to start. You should have it months in advance will give your child plenty of time to identify and work on their weaknesses and strengths.

Most parents get carried away with the preparations and overload the child with too much study. Space out the learning into small chunks over a long time. That way, your child doesn’t become overwhelmed.

10–11-year-olds have a concentration span of around 30 minutes. Your structured study plan should be about half an hour long per night is all your child needs.

Cover all your grounds

Regardless of the exam board that administers the test, your child will be tested on the same subjects: English, Verbal and Non-Verbal reasoning, and maths. The schedule you put together should cover each subject comprehensively.

The English exam will cover the following;

  • Grammar
  • Spelling
  • Literacy
  • Vocabulary
  • Sentence structure
  • Comprehension
  • Punctuation

It’s important that your child practices on all these subjects comprehensively in both writing and reading.

In non-verbal reasoning, the child is tested on shapes and spatial awareness. Studying mirror images, maths games and using objects to master addition and subtraction will help prepare your child for this section.

For the verbal section of the exams, there are different types of possible questions. While studying, focus on building vocabulary. Practice papers are an excellent resource to help your child improve their verbal reasoning skills.

For the maths section of the exam, the child will need to have good numeracy and math concept skills. Covering the Key Stage 2 Maths curriculum should help students cover all their bases.

Focus on practising both question formats

There are two question formats covered in the 11 Plus exam. There are multiple-choice and standard questions.

In multiple-choice, the child is expected to select the correct answer from several options. The standard format requires written responses.

Your child should practice both question formats, especially if they are both tested by the school that the child is applying to. Don’t assume that multiple-choice questions are easy, it’s a mistake most parents make and often regret. Be sure to work on both equally.

Build a support network

Parents who have already gone through the 11 Plus exams are an excellent resource. They can provide you with the best advice on what to expect during the exams. You don’t have to know such parents on a personal basis; there are forums where parents share vital information about the exams that could help you prepare your child better.

Some of the information you can get include what the examiners test, what the pass mark is and how many spots the schools are offering.

Hire a private tutor

Hiring a tutor shouldn’t be a last-minute consideration. Most tutors have probably helped a child or two prepare for their 11 Plus exam and will most likely do an exceptional job with yours.

With a private tutor, your child will get undivided attention from someone with experience and skill in this area. Finding a good tutor can be hard, so starting the search early will save you from a last-minute rush and give you a better chance of getting a good tutor.

Tutors are particularly important if you can’t dedicate enough time to your child. They also ensure consistency, and through training, they can better help your child work on their weak areas.

The Bottom Line

As a parent, the pressure to pass the 11+ exams is as high as it is on your child. Helping them succeed is as important as the passing. Using these tips will help you do a better job at helping your child prepare for the exam.