upto 11yrs old/11+The 11 Plus is an exam sat by pupils in the last year of primary school. However, most children will only be 10 years old when they take the test. “11Plus” refers to the fact test select for schools at an entry point for children aged 11 or over.
There are up to four different sections used for the 11 Plus tests – Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning, Maths and English. Some take 4 papers – English, Maths, Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning, and others in the single discipline of Verbal Reasoning.
The Non-Verbal Reasoning papers are also very common. Both test a child’s innate intelligence and potential, rather than skills. This is controversial, since it is not possible to answer either type of paper without a reasonable quality of prior learning in areas such as maths or English. In general both tests are not tests of curriculum-based learning.
The Eleven Plus makes it a very stressful experience for parents and children. This site was created by a parent who was going through the process with his own son.
ParentsParent of children sitting the 11+ will probably find the process stressful. Alternative schools are of an acceptable or high quality parents tend to remain fairly calm, safe in the knowledge that their child will still receive a good education even if they do not qualify for a grammar school. The alternatives to grammar schools can be less appealing, where parental stress is higher. The silence prevailing about the 11+ especially in competition for places:
Parents do not discuss the 11+ openly
The make up the 11+ are concealed by schools preventing preparation; even if older siblings who took the test will already have that information good tutors are talked about in hushed tones, but rarely shared with others.
Parents hide that their child is tutored, casually saying “oh he’s doing an hour here and there”, when the child is doing two or more hours a week, and doing large amounts of homework
Appeals Information is hard to find.
Find InformationFind out how the admissions process for grammar schools works in your area. Information is power in this process so find out:
The Admission Rules to check if you qualify in getting a place. Allocation could be by score, by distance or religious commitment, sibling priority or priority feeder schools etc.
- Admission Rules change year to year, so do not assume that the same rules are still in force when the time comes.
- Find and understand the testing process - what the tests consist of and any changes, the contents vary considerably for topics such as Verbal Reasoning and English.
- Keep yourself informed throughout the 11 plus process.
- The preparation process for children sitting that year.
Stress levelsYou and your child might feel that schooling is uncertain or is a “lottery” (a reality in some non-selective areas). Face both possible outcomes with calm and equanimity as you can. Put the testing process in context within your family. Compared the good health, financial security and a roof over your heads, the outcome of the 11+ is relatively low on the scale of family crisis. Keep a sense of perspective in this process.
Children taking the 11 Plus will experience some stress during the process. The most laid-back parent for miles around, will hear friends expressing their anxieties about their future schooling. Do not assume because you are staying calm, your child feels the same way.
Reassure them of their future, regardless of the outcome of the 11 Plus – your “Plan B” for future schooling. It may be difficult to convince them that your failing catchment school will be a good alternative to your/their preferred grammar school, but convince them you must! Every school has some strong points, and you need to research thoroughly. Your child needs to know that you are in control of the situation and that you have their future securely mapped out.
Every child sitting the 11+ needs to know that they will not have “failed” if unsuccessful. They need to know that you will be proud of them for their hard work, for their work in preparing for the test and for their courage in taking it. A positive result – should your child qualify – is a bonus, and not validation of your relationship with your child. Children need to be confident in themselves to succeed.
With extra work ahead of the children , parents promise some reward at the end. It is a personal decision, but please consider the terms you agreed focus on effort, not achievement.
Before the testKeep your child off “high carbohydrates” such as pasta for the last few days before the tests. Foods such as pasta is good for physical energy, but it can have the opposite effect on mental energy.
Give healthy food for your child – lots of fresh fruit, vegetables and oily fish, and make sure they drink plenty of water. Dehydration literally shrinks the brain.
Ensure that your child has a sensible bedtime, and consider opting out of any out-of-school activities that you know will leave your child tired and grumpy the next day.
If your child is the sort who thrives on routine and responds badly to change, ensure that everything possible continues as normal in the household, from meal times to bath times.
Make sure that your child has an analogue watch, or if they have a digital watch make sure they turn off any alarms on it before they go in to the test.
Make sure that your child can calculate the finish time for the test themselves, based on any start time – five past, ten past, etc. Tests do not always start on the hour.
Check whether pencils and erasers will be provided for the test. Pencils must be HB hardness because most test papers are read by an optical reader, and only an HB pencil will make a clear enough mark for the machine to read. Pencils with a rubber on top can be useful so the child doesn’t have to put their pencil down completely if they need to rub something out.
On the day of the testLeave plenty of time for the journey to school or to the test venue. If you are travelling a long distance, check the traffic reports before you set out.
Make sure that your child has a good breakfast. On the way to school give them a banana or other healthy snack to eat. This will keep their blood sugar up and aid concentration.
Make sure that your child has their watch on – your child might not be able to see the clock in the exam room from where they are sitting. Schools vary in how they tell the children how many minutes are left. Some will announce “half-time”, some will announce five minutes, two minutes or one minute left. Invigilators can and do forget to make any announcements about time at all, so your child must take responsibility for timing the test as well.
Make sure that your child has anything they usually rely upon, such as glasses or an inhaler. Give them a handkerchief in case of tears or sniffles.
Prepare your child for the fact that some children may cry. Help them to understand that they must distance themselves from the emotions of other children, even those of their friends. If necessary they can put up their hand to draw the invigilator’s attention to the fact that the other child is upset, but they must then continue with their own test.
Tell your child that they must not allow themselves to be distracted by anything that happens in the exam room. Things do go wrong during the test – fire alarms and car alarms go off by mistake, children are taken ill, invigilators come and go, etc. Unless and until they are told to stop working they must continue as if nothing is happening around them.
If your child is taken ill during the test, ensure that the invigilator has made a note of it. Try to get written confirmation after the test from the school or admission authority that they have a record of what happened.
What if my child is ill on the day of the test?Do not allow your child to take the test if they are unwell. You wouldn’t normally send your child in to school with symptoms of sickness, do not do so on such an important day.
Appeal panels do not accept: “He wanted to take the test with all his friends, so even though he wasn’t 100 percent we let him go in to school.
Do get a letter from your GP stating that your child was unwell and therefore not able to take the test.
Ensure that you know who to notify beforehand your child is unable to take the test, and take that information with you. Areas have reserve dates or arrangements for missing tests.
Do liaise with the school or Admission Authority over the arrangements for the new test. When will it take place? Where will your child sit the test? In areas where the tests are taken in primary schools it is not unknown for children to have the test sprung upon them quite unexpectedly, or to have to take the test in the Head Teacher’s office, the school office or the dining room while lunch is being prepared.
After the testCheck with your child to see if anything significant went wrong, either for them personally or more generally in the exam room. The information could be crucial at an appeal.
If there was disruption in the exam room, verify your child’s report with other parents if you can and call the school or Admissions department to discuss it. In most areas the invigilator is required to submit a report that shows any problems that occurred, and the report is then filed with the Admissions authority.
Reassure your child that, however the test went, you are still proud of them and that you know they will do well at whichever school they attend. Take them out for a small celebration if you can!
11 Plus Verbal ReasoningVerbal Reasoning is believed to be an effective way of testing potential, not just learned ability.
Learned ability does enter into the equation. There are question that simply test a child’s logical deduction or ability to decipher codes, and will require a good vocabulary and also strong basic maths.
Some children naturally get through Verbal Reasoning. They are keen on puzzles, crosswords, word searches, word games, jigsaws, Sudoku, etc. Do encourage your child to enjoy these activities prepare for Verbal Reasoning tests.
Children can be adept at Verbal Reasoning by learning techniques to solve the problems. Preparation will not enable innately intelligent children to qualify for the 11+, but it does assist the children to succeed. If you do the crossword every day you become familiar with how the compilers think and you can see the solutions more quickly. However, if you do not possess a good vocabulary in the first instance, you will not know the answers to the clues.