How to Pass the 11 Plus Exam

How to Pass the 11 Plus Exam

A child’s success in the 11 Plus exam involves a combination of recognising and honing the child’s strengths, tailored preparation and a supportive environment.

Whilst it can be challenging, many children, including those with average abilities, can increase their chances of passing and gaining admission to a selective secondary school or grammar school.

Is It Hard to Pass the 11 Plus Exam for Grammar Schools?

How to Pass the 11 Plus Exam

Passing the 11 Plus exam can be challenging as it assesses a child’s ability in key subjects including Mathematics and English, as well as areas that are not readily taught in public and private schools such as Verbal and Non-verbal Reasoning.

The difficulty varies from child to child, and it largely depends on their strengths and how well they’ve prepared. 

The content also varies between exam boards, such as GL Assessment or CEM. So, knowing the question formats and who will administer the test will help set your expectations and tailor your child’s study plan to the specific requirements of the exam. 

Whilst the 11 Plus exam is undeniably a challenging milestone, parents can provide the right assistance through additional resources, professional guidance, or maintaining a positive atmosphere for your child’s overall readiness and chances of success in navigating the 11 Plus.

Can an Average Child Pass the 11 Plus?

With the right preparation and support, an average student can pass the 11 Plus exam for grammar school. Among these methods is to recognise and then work on the child’s strengths whilst addressing any areas that may need improvement. 

Parents, in this process, often play a crucial role. You can create a conducive study schedule that aligns with the child’s learning style and pace, as well as provide resources and materials that cater to the specific requirements of the exam.

Regardless of whether a child falls into the category of an average student, a holistic and supportive approach ensures that the student is well-equipped and maximises their potential to pass the exam.

What Is a Good Score for 11 Plus?

Generally, a good score reflects a child’s strong academic potential and proficiency in the key areas assessed. In the 11 Plus, a good score depends on the specific exam board, the target school, and the competition in a particular year. So, it’s advisable to research the pass rate for the relevant exam boards and individual schools. 

The pass mark, typically around 80%, changes yearly and can escalate to 90% in certain schools. The real challenge lies in the limited available seats, where the highest scorers secure places at top schools.

The scoring also involves standardisation to ensure fairness. It takes into consideration the number of questions and time allocated across different exam papers and age discrepancies.

As success in the 11 Plus exams is not solely defined by the raw score, other parents aim for their child to not only meet but exceed the pass mark. Note, however, that if your child passes the test, it doesn’t mean they are automatically admitted to their target school. The school will have to consider other factors such as the catchment area.

How Can I Prepare for the 11 Plus Exam at Home?

How to Pass the 11 Plus Exam

Preparing for the 11 Plus exam at home involves a strategic and focused approach to help your child succeed. Here are some preparation tips to consider:

Understand the Exam Format

Start by familiarising yourself with the specific requirements of the 11 Plus exam in your region, Different grammar schools and exam boards may have variations in the subjects tested—typically English paper and Maths and Verbal and Non-verbal Reasoning.

Ensure your child is exposed to a variety of question formats. There are primarily two formats – multiple choice, where your child needs to select the correct answer from given options, and the standard format, where a written response is needed.

Each subject and question type demands different skills and strategies, so it helps to plan around them accordingly to boost your child’s confidence on exam day.

Gather Resources and Practice Papers

Acquire practice papers and past papers from reputable sources. These materials are readily available from various platforms, including exam boards such as the GL Assessment and other online resources.

Supplement your child’s preparation with a diverse range of 11 Plus materials, including Maths and English past papers, Creative Writing, and Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning papers, to enhance their knowledge and experience in each core subject.

These materials mimic the actual exam papers and help your child become accustomed to the question styles and time constraints. 

They are also invaluable resources for understanding the level of difficulty of the exam for your child, allowing you to adjust the study schedule to focus on these specific weaknesses in the lead-up to the exam.

Create a Study Schedule

Develop a realistic study timetable that allows your child to cover all the necessary topics. This schedule should strike a balance between different subjects to provide a comprehensive and well-rounded approach—all without making your child feel overwhelmed.

How many hours of study are needed will depend on your child’s current understanding of the subjects and their ability to absorb information. But consistency is key. Opt for short, focused study sessions over prolonged cramming. This approach not only enhances retention but also avoids the stress associated with last-minute preparation.

Then, regularly review your child’s progress to gauge their strengths and weaknesses. Based on this assessment, adjust the study plan accordingly. If certain areas require more attention, be proactive in allocating additional time for focused practice.

Focus on Weak Areas

Before diving into the study materials, identify the specific subjects in the school curriculum or areas of the exam paper where your child may need improvement. This initial assessment ensures you don’t waste time on aspects that your child already excels in and helps tailor the study plan to address their weaknesses effectively. 

The study plan can then be adjusted to allocate more time and attention to these problem areas. 

When all else is good, concentrate on strengthening core skills like mathematics and English to build a strong foundation.

Develop Exam Techniques

Teach your child effective exam techniques. These techniques include skills such as reading questions carefully, eliminating incorrect choices, and managing time efficiently. 

Reading questions carefully is a foundational skill that will help your child fully comprehend the nuances of each question and minimise the risk of misinterpretation. One way to do it is by highlighting keywords in the instructions so they don’t miss out. 

Most 11 Plus exams employ the multiple-choice format, so it helps to train your child how to eliminate incorrect choices as a strategy. Teaching your child to discern and discard incorrect options not only increases the probability of choosing the correct answer but also saves valuable time during the exam.

Timed conditions are another inherent element in many entrance exams, and the ability to allocate time wisely across different sections can significantly impact a child’s overall performance. Introducing practice tests under timed conditions is an effective way to hone this skill.

Encourage Reading and Vocabulary Development

Since 11 Plus exams often assess verbal reasoning and English skills, encourage regular reading to enhance their vocabulary and comprehension. 

And this should be done way before the exam day comes. From early primary school days, encourage your child to engage with a diverse range of texts, including fiction and non-fiction, and enhance their exposure to various writing styles and genres. This exposure contributes not only to gaining an arsenal of new vocabulary but also to an improved understanding of different contexts and ideas.

Practice Mental Math

Work on mental maths skills. Regular practice of times tables, quick calculations, and problem-solving can boost your child’s confidence in this area.

The emphasis on the times tables is particularly important, as it lays the groundwork for more complex mathematical concepts. Engaging your child in the regular practice of these math skills not only enhances their speed and accuracy but also contributes to the development of their overall mathematical proficiency.

Simulate Exam Conditions

Mimic exam conditions at home to help your children become accustomed to the atmosphere. This includes practising with timed past papers and using a quiet, distraction-free environment. Most children find this experience to be a valuable tool in their exam preparation.

By doing this, children get familiar with the time constraints they’ll face on the actual exam day and hone their ability to manage time efficiently during the test. The timed aspect is particularly relevant for the 11 Plus exams, where questions are presented in a way that needs quick thinking and decision-making.

Seek Professional Guidance if Necessary

If you feel your child would benefit from additional support, consider hiring a tutor or enrolling them in a preparatory course. Some qualified tutors specialise in 11 Plus preparation and preparatory courses specifically designed for this type of entrance exam.

Professional guidance provides several advantages, including targeted assistance tailored to your child’s strengths and weaknesses. A skilled tutor or preparatory course instructor can offer insights into an effective exam technique and is often up-to-date with the latest changes in the exam format and curriculum, providing relevant and timely assistance.

Maintain a Positive Atmosphere

Keep a positive and supportive atmosphere at home. Let your child understand that the 11 Plus is just one aspect of their education journey and its outcome doesn’t define their overall capabilities or potential. 

Avoid putting too much pressure on them. Whilst it’s natural to want the best for your children, excessive stress can be counterproductive.

And to foster a positive mindset, celebrate their efforts throughout the preparation process regardless of the outcome. This positive reinforcement not only makes children feel confident but also reinforces the idea that learning and growth are ongoing processes. Both parents and children need to approach the 11 Plus exams with a sense of perspective and recognise that success is multifaceted and not solely determined by a single exam.

Every child is unique, so tailor the preparation plan to suit your child’s individual needs and learning style. With a well-structured and encouraging approach, your child can confidently navigate the 11 Plus exams and increase their chances of success at a prestigious school.

Master the 11 Plus

A unique, confidence-boosting way to study for the 11 Plus