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What would the future hold for a world without the 11-plus?

Last month, the North London Independent Girls’ School Consortium announced they’d be scrapping the 11-plus exam from 2019. Concerned about the wellbeing of children in the face of pushy parents over-prepping, the 12 schools in the group will instead ask for a verbal reasoning test and an interview with applicants.


There’s no doubt that entrance exams can be stressful – for both students and parents. We all want the best for our children, and with an ideal school in sight it can be easy to lose track of what’s important. There’s a balance to be found between preparing and pressurising, and it’s important we understand where this line lies.


But for some, the consortium’s proposed changes may add extra stress to the system. For overseas students, whose first language may not be English, an interview can be particularly daunting. And verbal reasoning tests can be challenging for anyone unaccustomed to the format. There is plenty of support and advice available to help applicants prepare for this new approach – the trick is to ensure it’s carefully tailored to the aspirations and abilities of your child.


Here are a few Figtree tips for getting an interview off to a great start:

  • Teach your child the merits of a good handshake – a good grip and engaging eye-contact are key
  • Encourage extra-curricular pursuits – enthusiasm and interest go a long way
  • Emphasize the importance of eye contact with the interviewer – this shows engagement and confidence
  • Suggest a question that your child can ask even if not prompted – they could invite the interviewer to give an opinion, for example, “why do you think this is a good school?”
  • Inform your child about the school beyond a school visit – show your child the school’s website and let them decide what they like about it
  • Remind your child to always remain positive – about their achievements, potential and school, present and aspirational
  • Don’t over-practice – while mock interviews are definitely valuable, your child shouldn’t learn answers off by heart


For more support with interview or verbal reasoning preparation, get in touch with the team. And if the schools you’re looking at still ask for the 11-plus – or any other entrance exam – we’re here to help. Explore our services to find out what our tutors can offer.

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