If you’re thinking about whether to send your child to grammar school or an independent school, then you’ve probably already begun searching all things 11 plus (11+). For those unfamiliar with the term, the 11+ exam is a selective entrance exam for secondary schools. Grammar schools and independent schools use it to identify the academic abilities of students. On average, parents and students usually begin preparing for the 11+ one year in advance of the exams. So whether you’ve only just started your 11+ research or your child is already in full swing of their revision, we’ve got you covered with The Best 11 Resources Your Child Can Use To Prepare For The 11+ Exam that’ll help your child ace the 11+ exam.
But before we crack on with sharing the most useful 11+ resources, we’ll be taking a quick look at the two different exam boards and exam formats so that you know which type of exam you’re child will be taking…
The two main exam boards for the 11+ exam are CEM, developed by Durham University, and GL Assessment. The exam board your desired school facilitates is determined by location (see below). Furthermore, some independent schools, like Dulwich College and Sevenoaks School, have created their own tests, as well. So before you begin your 11+ preparation, it’s important to check with the schools you’ve selected which exam board they’ve chosen.
Exam boards by area:
CEM: Berkshire, Bexley, Birmingham, Buckinghamshire, Devon, Gloucestershire, Shropshire, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wirral, Wolverhampton
GL Assessment: Cumbria, Dorset, Kent, Lancashire, Medway, Northern Ireland and Wiltshire
Mixture of CEM and GL Assessment: Devon, Essex, Hertfordshire, Trafford and Yorkshire
Whichever test your child ends up taking, verbal reasoning (analysing text, solving word problems, spotting letter sequences, etc.), non-verbal reasoning (spatial awareness, pattern-spotting and logical skills) and numerical testing are the common subject themes. The exams assess general maths and English knowledge, along with your child’s vocabulary and problem-solving skills. It is important to thoroughly prepare your child for the exam, as primary schools won’t cover the skills that are needed to successfully pass the 11+ exam.
The 11+ exam is timed, lasting between 45 and 60 minutes, and there are two different question formats:
Standard format – where children formulate and write their answer
Multiple-choice format – where answers are made in a separate answer booklet
Since this could be the first formal examination your child has ever taken, then getting the timings right is something that has to be trained and practised for. Taking timed 11+ mock papers is therefore a must when preparing for the 11+ exam, as is working on numerical exercises, comprehension and writing skills. Consistently reading new, age-relevant texts is also another way to help improve in these areas. In this blog post we’ll be looking at the best 11+ resources you can use to support your child throughout the process.
But first, it’s worth mentioning that unless you yourself are proficient and up-to-speed with the current 11+ syllabuses, then the most effective way to prepare your child is to find a specialist 11+ exam tutor. Not only will your tutor understand the latest changes to the 11+ exam, but they will also appreciate the nuances between different syllabuses and specific school requirements.
Experienced private 11+ tutors will have previously helped students get a place at a selective school, perhaps even at your desired school, and be able to consistently keep track of where your child is struggling and where they need to improve. More importantly, they will be able to help your child with exam technique – which at this stage is more psychological than anything else. In addition, private 11+ tutors will have access to past exam papers and other useful material that’s related to the exam your child will be taking. This will inevitably save you money on buying resources like exam papers and model answers, which may well be outdated or irrelevant.
The resources we have laid out below are incredibly useful as a supplement to your child’s 11+ exam preparation, but it is worth noting there is no better substitute than finding a tutor who clearly understands the most relevant content, structure and required exam technique for the school your child is applying to!
Private tutoring is the best way to ensure your child gets a good grade in the 11+ exam.
(There are many other benefits to hiring a private tutor, too, which you can read in more detail here)
Since much of the material for the 11+ exam isn’t covered in the primary school curriculum, private tutors are the best resource you can use to ensure your child does well in the exams. Experienced 11+ tutors will make sure that your child is learning the correct content, and perhaps more importantly that they are developing the right skills needed to succeed in the exam.
Being able to cope with time pressures, reading questions carefully and answering in a way the examiners expect are just as important as understanding the material. Private tutors can create customised lessons that are both specific to the 11+ exam and related to where your child needs support specifically. Moreover, tutoring allows your child to work at their own individual pace, so that they are able to master the content before tackling the questions in timed conditions.
So, whether you have six months or two weeks till the exam, your tutor can adjust lesson plans accordingly. Check out Tutorean’s 11+ tutors that can help prepare your child during the 11+ exam process.
Parents can download free papers for verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, Maths and English elements of the test, simply by entering your email address. The downloads include practice papers, answer sheets and mark schemes. Bonus – websites like these also usually include downloads for other exams, such as the KS1, KS2 and KS3 SATs.
Learning Together has a great range of books that cover all four topics of the 11+ exam. Each book contains test questions, glossaries, and answers. Moreover, it’s got online practice tests and quizzes, which allows students to go back through incorrect answers and learn how to find the correct answer.
11PlusEHelp is one of the resources your child can use to prepare for the 11+ exam; it’s got it all! The site has a variety of timed online tests, both long and short formats, complete with mock exams. Each question’s correct answer is thoroughly explained. Moreover, the site creates weakness reports at the end of each test. These reports highlight areas your child is struggling in and offers tips for improvement. In addition to the many downloads available – videos, flashcards, vocabulary and spelling tests, the site has a handy schedule that tracks all guidelines for independent and grammar schools and their application deadlines.
The question format is what sets A Testing Time apart from other the other sites. They provide unlimited online verbal and non-verbal reasoning tests. Original, unique questions are generated immediately, so you’re never taking the same test twice (unless you want to review and compare your progress). Furthermore, there are 34 different question types, each with 11 levels of difficulty, which allows you to create customisable tests that are scored immediately.
On Sevenoaks School website, parents can download samples of past papers for independent 11+ entrance exams . While the site does not provide the answers, the maths and English papers are high quality and give students and parents an idea of what the test will look like. Answers to these practice papers can be purchased from another website that is used for 11+ preparation. Sevenoaks School also provides links to age-appropriate reading lists recommendations for pupils.
Another independent school that has excellent past 11+ entrance exams is Dulwich College. Parents can download three past English papers and six maths papers. Mark schemes are provided for all maths papers, which comes in handy for parents who aren’t confident in their maths skills.
8. The Tutoress
The Tutoress is a great website that has many helpful links for parents, such as blogs and video tutorials, with excellent advice and tips on how to navigate successfully through exam preparation. The most useful resource is an extensive list of past English and maths papers to download from many independent and grammar schools in the UK.
9. Bond 11+
For 50 years, Bond 11+ is the gold standard when it comes to 11+ and entrance exam prep. The company not only sells a variety of books to help you pass your test, but their online platform also provides great exam help. From mock exams, to instant marking and feedback, to unlimited access to 11+ practice questions, Bond 11+ is one site that shouldn’t be missed. If you register for free, Bond gives you access to a decent range of downloadable resources.
10. 11 Plus Lifeline
Another benchmark of quality resources your child can use to prepare for the 11+ is 11 Plus Lifeline. Parents can find useful exam advice and school guides, along with books for independent and grammar school 11+ preparation. 11 Plus Lifeline also offers challenging practice papers, in a wide variety of styles, easy to download and print. If you prefer to test out the material before you purchase anything, families can receive 145 pages of 11+ practice resources and solutions for free, just by entering their email address.
11. 11 Plus Guide
This useful site is a one-stop shop when it comes to grammar and independent school entry assistance. The many resources you and your child can use to prepare for the 11+ exam includes free past papers and exam forums, guidance on which resources to use, independent and grammar school entry information and detailed advice on all aspects of the 11+ entry tests. The best part, it’s all free!
We hope these resources come in useful and give you and your little genius the confidence to succeed on testing day. If you are still debating whether grammar school is right for you, or if you’ve already started practising with past papers, we’re on hand to help. You can give us a call and talk to our education advisors should you have any questions about the process or would like our personal recommendations for experienced 11+ tutors.
Of course, feel free to check out Tutorean’s 11+ tutors yourself – it’s free to get in touch with them directly and they can help thoroughly prepare your child for the 11+ exam. Also, if you’re a little confused about the UK school system in general, and you’re not sure what’s best for you and your child, you can take a quick look at our guide to understanding the UK school system.
We wish your child the best of luck and hope that they find a school they love 🙂