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A pupil’s point of view

From past papers to interview prep, we support children throughout their 11- or 13-plus journey. And we’re proud that many of our students have gone on to some of the best schools in the country. So as exam season starts again, we caught up with a few of our past pupils – and their families – to get their thoughts on the test and how best to prepare.


Ruby, 11
11-plus, London grammar school

“I wasn’t that nervous about taking the test because I had done a lot of revision, and I was actually excited because a lot of my friends were applying to the same school as well. It was a great feeling when I passed, and I really love my school. I know that some people found it a bit stressful, but I think it’s good that you have to work hard to get to the school you really want to go to.”


Hamish, 12
11-plus and interview, London independent school

“I was definitely more worried about the interview because I had done lots of practice papers for the test, so I felt quite prepared, but to begin with I didn’t really know what to expect in the interview. After I had a few practice interviews though I felt much happier, and in the end the school was really welcoming and friendly.”


Luca, 11
ISEB and interview, independent boarding school

“I found maths and English quite easy, but verbal reasoning was hard! There wasn’t anyone else at my school taking the same exams, so I didn’t have anyone to talk to about them. It definitely helped working with a tutor, and even though I didn’t like doing all the practice papers, I don’t think I would have been successful without them.”


And a parent’s point of view…


Nicole, mother of 12-year-old Sophie
11-plus, grammar school

“I’d say the 11-plus took over our lives for a while and, if I’m honest, it was a challenge to keep my own aspirations in check at times. I really didn’t want to place any extra pressure on Sophie, so having a tutor to take care of her revision schedule meant I could take a step back. That’s not to say I didn’t sneak in the odd practice paper or two…but I tried to make it as fun as possible. My younger daughter got involved, and the two of them sat a couple of mock exams together – so it was a bit like a game, which I think helped.


“I do think it can be a lot to handle at such a young age, but on the other hand, I can see how Sophie has benefitted in more ways than just getting into her chosen school. She seems more mature and has more self-confidence, so I’m really pleased we worked as hard as we did. It was definitely worth it in the end.”


All of the children we spoke to agreed that it was a stressful time, but that with adequate preparation, they managed to stay on top of their nerves. For tips on dealing with exam anxiety, read this month’s article “Tackling stress for 11-plus success” or get in touch with the Figtree team.

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