11-plus: You really need to start practising now

Pupils sit GCSE maths examSeptember may seem a long time away, but your child could have as few as 20 weeks to get ready for the 11-plus exam.

If you are using a personal tutor to support your child, you should be making sure there is plenty of time left to look at the wide variety of questions contained in the test.

I would recommend at least 20 sessions with a tutor to ensure your child has experienced every type of question which the test will throw at them. Of course, I would say that as I am a tutor myself!

But I really think that even high ability children, who are consistently hitting Level 5 in mathematics and English, need time to rehearse strategies for the 11-plus.

The test is a very specific way of assessing your child, and students are unlikely to have come across its type of question before.

I know – way back – when I took my 11-plus (or 12-plus as it was in those days), I did plenty of practice beforehand, using what were known as General Progress Papers! When it came to the 11-plus itself, I felt confident and nothing in the test surprised me. I felt I was in a position to do justice to myself.

That is all we can ask young people to do – to feel confident and perform to the best of their abilities. So if you think that weekly or twice-weekly lessons with a private tutor can help, then please contact me and I will be pleased to advise you.

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11-plus: the timetable in Warwickshire

11+ Essentials Comprehensive Book 1 frontApplication packs for the 11-plus are normally sent out to Year 5 children in June, with the on-line application process beginning at the end of June and closing in July. In late August, your child will be allocated a centre at which they will be sitting the 11-plus.

Your child will sit the 11-plus at the beginning of September, usually on a Saturday morning. There is a reserve date in case of illness or other special reason.

Provisional results will be sent out in mid-October. Applications for admissions must be made by the end of October. Offers from schools are normally sent out towards the end of February.

The exam itself

The test is made up of two 45-minute papers. Each test has between 100 and 125 questions. Sample questions are sent out two weeks before the exam. There are a limited number of sample questions on this website.

The types of questions your child will encounter.

11-plus: three types of question

Pupils sit GCSE maths exam

The 11-plus examination in Warwickshire comprises three types of question – verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning and numerical reasoning.

Here is a quick explanation:

VERBAL REASONING: These are questions about the English language, how you use it and how you understand it. They are usually multiple choice or fill-in-the-gap type of questions. For instance, you may be asked to choose the correct word to complete a passage, or to answer short comprehension questions about a passage which could be about 100 words long.

The main types of questions you will be asked fall into four categories:

1. Sorting words – you might have to sort words into categories, find words that are the most similar, or ones that have letters in common.

2. Selecting words – you might have to combine two words to make new ones, find a prefix for a set of words, or change letters to make a new word.

3. Anagrams – you might have to re-arrange letters to make a word, or complete a crossword, or find a word hidden in a sentence.

4. Coded sequences and logic – you might have to work out letter and number sequences, or code and decode words using numbers letters and symbols.

NON-VERBAL REASONINGYou will normally be shown a series of pictures and be asked which is the odd one out. Sometimes there will be four pictures, and you will have to choose from four or five others to find the one which matches the others.

The main types of questions you will be asked fall into four categories:

1. Identifying shapes – you might be asked to pair up shapes, or to recognise ones that are similar or different.

2. Missing shapes – you might be asked to find shapes that complete a sequence, or find a missing shape from a pattern.

3. Rotating shapes – you might be asked to recognise mirror images or link nets to cubes.

4. Coded shapes and logic – you might be asked to code and decode shapes or apply shape logic.

NUMERICAL REASONING: These questions test your numerical ability. You will be asked questions such as working out the total spend, or the change you would get in a shop.

The main types of questions you will be asked fall into five categories:

1. Number – you might be asked about place value, sequences or equations and algebra.

2. Fractions and decimals – you might be asked about decimal fractions, or ratio and proportion.

3. Handling data – you might be asked about mean, median, mode and range, or about probability.

4. Shape and space – you might be asked about symmetry, volume and capacity, or perimeter and area.

5. Measurement – you might be asked about reading scales, or time and timetables.

I have read in some places that the numerical reasoning part of the test makes up 50% of the marks, and the other two parts 25% each – but this is not confirmed.

As you can see, this is a very pressured examination. Students will have less than 30 seconds to attempt each question. Preparation is vital, even for the most gifted of children.

As a private tutor, I will ensure your child is familiar with all types of questions, and has strategies in place to deal with them. I will help them to deal with the pressure of the examination and, hopefully, be well prepared to be confident and make the most of their abilities.

If I can help, please contact me on northside777@btinternet.com

More information on the 11-plus

An example of English 11-plus questions

11-plus: How I can help

11+ Essentials Comprehensive Book 1 frontWarwickshire is unusual in retaining the 11-plus examination to determine entry to its grammar schools. In the Rugby area, many parents and children will choose the 11-plus as a means to gaining entry to either Lawrence Sheriff Grammar School, Rugby High School or the grammar stream of Ashlawn School.

Most children who choose to sit the exam will do so in the September of each year. It is not an easy set of tests and I would strongly recommend even the most able pupils to practise carefully beforehand.

The reason for this is that, even though a child may be very able and working at Level 5 in maths and English (or beyond), the types of questions in the 11-plus will be very unfamiliar to them. The child needs to be exposed to these questions on a regular basis, and have an adult or elder brother or sister on hand to discuss strategies and compare answers.

I would suggest that preparation should begin about a year before the 11-plus is actually taken. It doesn’t have to be anything heavy, but a handful of questions tackled each night would be a good habit to get into. Children should be encouraged to become familiar with the style of the question, and, after a while, they will come to recognise them and be able to apply strategies used before.

As a Personal Tutor, I am available to provide support to children who wish to take the 11-plus. It is a question of maximising their skills, and ensuring they do justice to their own abilities. I cannot promise miracles, but I can promise that they will be well prepared for the tests, and will recognise the type of questions they are likely to face.

If your child is thinking of taking the 11-plus in September, then this would be a good time now to begin sessions to help them through what is a very challenging time in their lives. Please contact me if I can help you.

Read more about the 11-plus in Warwickshire.

Can you do these 11-plus English questions?

Here are some examples of questions you might come across in the 11-plus examination? See if you can answer them.

Underline two words, one from each group, that go together to form a new word. The word in the first group always comes first.

a) face, over, hand                                            cream, some, left

b) out, off, in                                                     mark, all, ice

c) tall, ship, slip                                                gang, stock, way

Find the letter which will end the first word and start the second word.

a) win (…) ind11+ Essentials Comprehensive Book 1 front

b) shove (…) eaver

c) rea (…) rime

Find a word that can be put in front of each of the following words to make new compound words.

a) LET   DROP   SIGHT   BATH

b) HOLE   HOOD   POWER   KIND

c) CUP   FLY   MILK   SCOTCH

As a personal tutor, I can help your child work through questions such as this, discuss any problems that arise, and suggest different approaches which may be helpful. Please contact me if you would like further information. My email address is northside777@btinternet.com