Welcome to our guide to Which School? This outlines our School Entrance Tests / Passed Papers ethos and educational values.
Gaining a selective school place has never been more competitive. Adopting the most effective preparation for private and grammar school entrance is the key. Hence, we aim to:
- Give every parent easy access to the right past papers and helpful test-taking tips. That means improved scores and reduced anxiety for you and your child.
- Take the anxiety out of school entrance tests for students and parents. We provide a vast collection of free private and grammar school entrance exams and educational resources.
Our Amazon practice test books
- Plus, our Numeracy Test Practice book, which reached Number One when the publisher Pearson offered it for free (throughout the UK’s first 2020 lockdown).
- Our Numerical Reasoning Test Practice book reached Number One when the publisher Pearson offered it for free (throughout the UK’s first 2020/21 lockdowns) .
How do I motivate my child?
In our opinion, the best attitudes to prepare for prepare your child for their school entrance test are:
- Believing that your children should be able to pass. Also though, to manage their own expectations.
- Treating your target schools as options only. That way if they don’t get in, it Is because the school was not right for them.
- Being open and honest about the high amount of prep school exam prep that will be required. Promote a growth mindset by avoiding the belief that your child has failed somehow.
Top tips for motivating your child to practice
- A system of carefully selected rewards or bribes can often prove effective!
- Don’t make the sessions too arduous. Try to make learning fun and sit with your child whilst they work. Maybe task your other child or children with chores to do at the same time so that he or she doesn’t feel that their siblings are having fun whilst they are having to knuckle down and work.
- Have tuition times that suit your child; when they aren’t tired or over excited about some activity that they might be doing later in the day.
- Too much pressure and not enough encouragement will create what is termed a negative learning environment. This means the child will be miserable and view practice as a chore. In short, they won’t want to learn. Creating a situation whereby the child wants to learn, even if they may not enjoy every second of it, is the aim.
- Employ short diversions and apply different learning methods that will make the work less monotonous and help it all sink in.
How do I reduce my child’s anxiety?
If your child is worried about taking their school entry exam, we advise:
- Reassuring them they will be fine and just to do their best.
- Avoiding ‘burn out’ caused by creating so much stress around one school entrance exam.
How should I choose a tutor?
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. We have many YouTube videos on tutor selection and other school entry topics and school entry exams.
How much tuition is needed?
During term time, most tutors will hold a weekly session of between 60 to 90 minutes with additional homework set each week. During the holidays the tutor may also recommend extra sessions. This is especially important in the summer period leading up to September exams.
The key is that the additional work required 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. 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.
This is necessary 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.
Which tips do you have for reducing exam anxiety?
We understand how stressful entrance exams can be and therefore want to level the playing field for those who can’t afford tutors / private education. Not only do we provide the biggest selection of all types of entrance tests anywhere online (all for FREE), we also create fun and effective 10-minute tests in the form of quizzes. Through these, we aim to get children to practice exam questions within time restraints.
At the same time, they can review the feedback to their answers independently. Not only does this free up parents/tutors, but also give children some responsibility for their own learning. In my opinion, familiarising yourself with the exam format is the best way to prepare.
When is the ‘right time’ to start preparing?
The earlier you start, the better! Leaving preparations until the last minute create a multitude of problems, all of which can be easily avoided by giving you and your child adequate time. Still, it does depend on the individual child’s current skill set. Be mindful of the danger of not being able to cover all the necessary material in time.
Leaving school entry test preparation to the last minute will create an unhelpfully fraught working environment for your child. For some it’s best to get started in the summer between year 4 and 5, giving you a solid year and a half to prepare.
Others may choose to start much later in the academic year. Ultimately, it’s a judgement call between starting early enough to get your child the preparation they need, without starting so early as to risk losing momentum further down the line.
How long to spend tutoring
At such a young age, children should not, in an ideal world, ever feel stressed about things like exams, and as such the more relaxed your child feels about their tutor / time spent on tuition, the better. Nothing will make your child more panicky on the day than a stressful couple of weeks leading up to the test.
We would recommend that you begin light preparations for your child while they are in year 4. In the early days, it must be stressed, this work should indeed be light. No more than a couple of hours a week should be necessary in the early days, and no more than four or five hours each week even as it gets closer to the actual test.
Burdening your child with too much work too soon will simply put them off the process all together. If you are finding that you need to spend huge amounts of time tutoring your child, perhaps it would be wise to question if grammar school is the best environment for them.
What sortof tuition schedule works best?
Nothing will make your child more panicky on the day than a stressful couple of weeks leading up to the test. We would recommend that you begin light preparations for your child while they are in year 4. In the early days, it must be stressed, this work should indeed be light. No more than a couple of hours a week should be necessary in the early days, and no more than four or five hours each week even as it gets closer to the actual test. Burdening your child with too much work too soon will simply put them off the process all together.
Motivating your child to do past practice papers
At such a young age, most children simply don’t understand fully why attending a selective school could potentially be of huge benefit to them. Make sure your child understands this before preparations start. For some children, going to selective schools’ open days is a good motivator because, if they take a shine to a particular school, it gives them something tangible to aim for. A system of carefully selected rewards or bribes can often prove effective!
Don’t make the sessions too arduous. Try to make learning fun and sit with your child whilst they work. Maybe task your other child or children with chores to do at the same time so that he or she doesn’t feel that their siblings are having fun whilst they are having to knuckle down and work.
When’s the best time for tuition
Have tuition times that suit your child; when they aren’t tired or over excited about some activity that they might be doing later in the day. Too much pressure and not enough encouragement will create what is termed a negative learning environment. This means the child will be miserable and view practice as a chore. In short, they won’t want to learn.
Creating a situation whereby the child wants to learn, even if they may not enjoy every second of it, is the aim. Employ short diversions and apply different learning methods that will make the work less monotonous and help it all sink in. Play word games on the school run, buy your child workbooks that are designed to be entertaining.
Top tips to pass
Focus on accuracy first and foremost, and timekeeping second. Timekeeping and exam technique are important skills to learn throughout your child’s school career. After all, this is just the first of many exams they will be sitting in the next few years. Time management will come with practice, but give your child the following general advice:
- Spending 15 minutes on one question, so that you then don’t have time to finish 20 subsequent questions, is bad practice.
- Never leave any question unanswered. If you leave a question blank, you have automatically got that question incorrect.
- Remember to keep an eye on the clock throughout any full-length tests.
Addressing learning gaps
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.
How to improve reading skills
As part of the long-term strategy, and from a very early age, I would strongly recommend encouraging your child to read. I believe that this advice applies to every child, whether they are hoping to go to grammar school or not, but it becomes especially important with regard to the 11 Plus.
Reading allows your child to expand his or her vocabulary beyond the typical range of topics; as the old adage goes, reading truly does broaden the mind. The 11 Plus has been known to feature words like ‘dormitory’, which are challenging because they are slightly old fashioned.
How to improve Maths skills
With regards to maths, it’s best to ensure that your child is confident with everything on the KS2 maths syllabus. Reports from your child’s school should give an indication of whether your child has any major gaps in his/her knowledge.
Use Key Stage 2 maths revision resources to fill any of these gaps, and be sure to revisit material that your child struggles on regularly. Schools often take a modular approach to maths. This means that, if they cover fractions in September of Year 4, they may not cover them again until September of Year 5. By then they’ve completely forgotten how to do them!
So, try to resist the temptation to ‘overrule’ your child when examining different methods with which to tackle the basic operations in maths; they will have been taught differently in their primary school and it is better to try and understand how they arrive at their answers, rather than try to impose the method that you were taught!
In summary, the most important thing is to ensure that your child is confident with the basics in the following areas and then move up to more complex worded problems in each area.
- These can be divided into two categories: academies and maintained schools, which are maintained by the local authority.
- These schools must follow the national curriculum.
- Some students from state schools sit the 11+ to select top performers for local grammar schools.
- These state-funded, selective schools use the 11-plus entrance exam. This has papers for assessing: English, Maths, Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning.
- There are several grammar school criticisms. In particular the unfairness of richer parents pay to have their children coached to pass the 11 plus exam.
- In fact, over 60% of Oxbridge students are from private schools or grammar schools.
- Across the UK, private schools charge fees to attend – which, according to research reported by the BBC, range from £13,194 to £30,369 on average per year.
- The more expensive private schools tend to be boarding schools, with the fees covering living costs during term time.
- Similarly to grammar schools, private schools can be selective, and often have an admissions test to choose their pupils.
- Well-known examples of exclusive and prestigious schools in the UK include Eton College, Harrow School and Wellington College.
Good luck with your exams!