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The 11+ and how to survive it...


The 11+ and how to survive it...

It may be true that no short phrase has ever struck such terror in grown men and women as ‘The 11+’. To many parents, it feels like all their child’s chances of success or failure and future happiness depend on ‘passing’ this test. So what is it and how can you prepare your child?

By Susan Hamlyn - Director
The Good Schools Guide Advice Service

What is the 11+?

It’s the test that deter-mines whether your child has a place at the local grammar school. If you are interested in independent schools, the 11+ might be one of the competitive entrance tests your child also has to take. In both cases places are limited and are awarded entirely on test results.

What is tested?

Increasingly, local authorities rely on reasoning tests. Packs and books of Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning papers are to be found in newsagents and online. The best preparation is to familiarise your child with the ways these work and gradually build up speed.

Some grammar schools and virtually all independent schools also test English and maths. If your child is competent in all his Key Stage 2 maths, he should be fine with the 11+ tests – though speed is important. English will be a comprehension and an essay. Practice is helpful - a competent and experienced tutor is probably a wise investment if coming from a state primary school. Getting their pupils into good senior schools is, after all, the raison d’etre of the appropriately named ‘preparatory’ schools.

What is important?

The key thing with English comprehension tests is to read the passage with care and not rush. The ques-tions, likewise, need to be read carefully - and in their entirety. Most points are lost by children who read what they think is there rather than what is. Essays should be simple and not over-ambitious. Character is more important than handwriting.

The 2012 edition of the unique and outspoken Good Schools Guide features over 1000 of the UK's very best state and independent schools. Schools can't pay to go in though some have tried! The newest edition covers some new schools, including academies, and offers plenty of advice on choosing a school.

Available as a book or online at www.goodschoolsguide.co.uk.

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