Welcome to our 11 plus grammar school guide.

Top passing 11 plus tips

Rob Williams


Ask ROB, our resident Progress Test 11 plus rest design expert .

An Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, Rob Williams is a Chartered Psychologist with over 25 years of experience working and designing tests.

Rob has worked for all three of the main school entrance test publishers: GL Assessment grammar school entry exams; ISEB independent school entry papers and CEM Select private school entrance papers.

Address 11 plus learning gaps a.s.a.p.

  • Obviously deciding when to start tutoring depends largely on the abilities of the individual child. He or she may only need a few hours of exam practice. In this case, a few months may be adequate. However, if there are much greater gaps in their learning, then you may require several months of regular weekly tuition.
  • In regions where the 11 plus covers curriculum subjects, such as English and Maths, it is sometimes necessary to use a subject-specific tutor from an earlier age. This is to address known weaknesses in these subjects.
  • For example, many 10-year old boys struggle with English papers where they have to write their own composition ‘from the heart’. So getting a tutor who can help stimulate your child’s creative writing is probably a good idea. Conversely, some children struggle with core areas of mathematics, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, so a dedicated Maths tutor may be needed.

Get familiar with the 11 plus test papers

  • The good news is that all 11 Plus Preparation to get into grammar school will also help your child’s schoolwork. In particular, core subjects such as Maths and English.
  • 11 plus pupils need to familiarise themselves with the types of questions in these papers to do well. This is particularly true of test papers from GL Assessment which still remains the biggest supplier to local authorities and schools. There are

When should you start your 11+ prep?

While the beginning of Year 5 is usually a good time for your child to start tuition, it goes without saying you should begin the groundwork much earlier. Why? For two reasons:

  • Firstly, so you can fully identify the weaknesses your child may have when it comes to taking the 11 Plus.
  • Secondly, you will need a bit of time in order to find the right tutor.
  • Inevitably, the best tutors can be booked up many years in advance, so the earlier you start to look for one the better your options will be.
  • When choosing a tutor, you need to ask about their qualifications and their success rate in getting children into Grammar schools.
  • You also need to see how they get on with your child and how much they charge for their time.

How much 11+ tutoring is needed?

There is no precise answer about how much is the right amount. During:

  • term time, most tutors will hold a weekly session of between 60 to 90 minutes with additional homework set each week.
  • the holidays the tutor may also recommend extra sessions. This is especially important in the summer period leading up to September’s 11 Plus exams.

The key is that the additional work required for the 11 Plus needs to be manageable for your child. Because if it’s not, then this will simply add to their stress levels before the examinations which are counter-productive. If your child is receiving homework from school then it is more difficult to complete a tutor’s homework too.

Top 11 Plus Tips for Busy Parents

Keep calm during your 11 Plus Preparation

  • Undoubtedly, preparing for the 11 Plus is a stressful time for everyone concerned – parents included. The key is to stay calm and not let children sitting the exams see you are stressed too!
  • If the tuition isn’t going well then reassure them they will be fine and just to do their best.
  • One thing to avoid is ‘burn out’ where the child can’t focus on the task at hand because of too much stress.
  • At every stage, you have to evaluate your child’s tolerance for coaching. You also need to make sure your child takes frequent rest breaks. This takes the child’s mind off things.
  • Finally, you need to prepare children for their 11 Plus preparation. This means staging at least one mock exam in close to full examination conditions.
  • Obviously, it’s not possible to replicate the experience of hundreds of children in an exam hall. However, it’s important to carry out the mock in silence, for the exact length of time and with all the necessary materials to hand. Only then will they start to feel fully prepared for their forthcoming 11 Plus examinations. Good luck!

Practice with 11+ mock exams

  • Many children tend to panic under pressure when faced with the need to answer so many questions in a relatively short amount of time.
  • This is quite understandable. Yet you can easily train your child for the scenario by practising it beforehand.
  • Find full-length 11-plus tests or ask your child’s tutor to prepare them for practice. Have your child attempt these mock tests multiple times.
  • Keep the setting of such mock tests formal. Once the test is over, seek professional guidance or a tutor’s help to grade it accurately.
  • After the test is completed, it’s really important to ask how your child felt about the whole experience.
  • Give them a chance to break down their psychological experience as much as their academic performance.
  • Did they feel confident? If so, great, but why? If they felt stressed, unfocused or even upset, try to help them work through why this was. Identify incremental steps together for how they can avoid or better control these feelings next time.
  • This type of performance analysis is vital in enabling your child to perform consistently under pressure.

Use creative 11 plus prep approaches

  • Even if you’re not the main educator in your child’s 11-plus preparation, parents can play a vital role in helping ready them for the exam.
  • Many children are intimidated by the sheer pressure of the exams, or simply lose interest due to too pedagogical an approach.
  • These are precisely the areas where you can help your child. Ask him or her about their progress in 11-plus preparation.
  • Provide moral support.
  • See if they are distressed by the pressure.
  • Help cheer them up. Better still, find the right creative techniques to help them grasp the requisite basics.
  • Use spelling and punctuation games, storytelling scenarios and real-world mathematical problems to engage their interest.

How do I find the best 11 plus tutor?

  • Every student has unique abilities and unique learning needs.
  • It’s no secret that the help of a teacher or tutor who knows their stuff can be invaluable and give your child the boost they need.
  • But if you are going to invest time and money in finding an 11-plus tutor it’s vital that you find the right fit.
  • The right tutor makes the preparation process an exciting experience and encourages a focus on the process as much as the result.
  • This enables your child to develop a strong and flexible approach to the exam and to their learning.
  • Again, the exact approach will vary from child to child. Thus it’s important to find a tutor that works for you. Whilst taking recommendations from other parents can be useful, it’s important to look at all of the available options.

Is a specialist 11 plus tutor necessary?

  • Yes. We recommend that you look for specialist 11 plus tutors who’ve gained positive reviews from parents and successfully prepped students for the 11-plus.
  • Don’t take recommendations as gospel.
  • Many tutoring services will be happy to offer trial sessions at a lower rate so do get a feel for the tutor first.