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11 ways to conquer the 11-plus

Here are a few of our top tips to get you started. If you have any questions, or would like to know more, please get in touch with the team and we can talk you through your next steps.

1. Do your research – tests vary by school and by area, so whether you have your sights set on a specific school, or you’d like help finding a school to suit, give us a call and we’ll happily provide guidance on the right tests and interviews to prepare for.

2. Talk to the teachers – they can provide an invaluable second opinion about your child’s suitability for the school you’re hoping to apply for.

3. Top of the class doesn’t always mean top marks – where your child sits in their own school might not accurately reflect the wider competition, so consider talking to us about an academic assessment before getting to work.

4. Take a tailored approach – some children fare better with a longer, gradual run-up, sometimes several years in the making. Others respond to an intensive burst nearer the time. Consider your own child’s learning style and turn to us for advice early so you’re ready when the right time comes.

5. Go back to basics – if your child has a sound understanding of the principles, they’ll be able to apply them to any problem, under pressure. We can help structure the right approach so that it’s both challenging and rewarding.

6. Use your imagination – bring core subjects like Maths to life at home with games, visual aids or inventive puzzles. Or bring times tables to the dinner table to keep children on their toes.

7. Become a storyteller – the trick to creative writing is a compelling narrative, and there are loads of great writers out there to learn from. Try reading a favourite book together and talking about the story afterwards, focusing on how it made you feel. When it comes to comprehension, try testing your child on what they’ve understood after each chapter – or talk to us for more comprehension techniques.

8. Practice makes perfect – particularly when it comes to verbal and non-verbal reasoning tests, which may be less familiar. Go through past papers and recreate the atmosphere of the exam room to help prepare your child for the inevitable pressure of the day.

9. Recognition rather than reward – incentivising your child to pass the test doesn’t always drive the right behaviours. Instead, provide plenty of encouragement and praise throughout the preparation period.

10. Try not to worry – entrance exams are stressful for parents too, but it’s important to remember that you have options. It’s possible to appeal in some cases, and even if your child doesn’t secure a spot, there’s help available to get them back on track.

11. Keep in contact – a short ‘thank you’ email to the school after the interview goes a long way. And it also gives you the chance to reiterate your child’s enthusiasm for the school.

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