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  • The 11 plus exam is made up for four subject headings, Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning, Maths and English. In this blog we are going to be looking at the 11 Plus Verbal Reasoning exam. 

    Verbal reasoning is defined as “understanding and reasoning using concepts framed in words.” This commonly used definition does not explain, in simple terms, what verbal reasoning actually is. So, with this in mind, we shall look into the verbal reasoning exam in more detail.

    The 11 plus verbal reasoning exam is commonly made up of 21 different question types and these can be grouped into 5 main topics; Codes, Creating Words, The Meanings of Words, Basic Maths and Reading Information. From this list we can start to see the types of things covered in the 11 plus verbal reasoning exam. They comprise of processing verbal information, logical thinking and problem-solving skills, identifying patterns and rules, determining word meaning, spelling of words accurately and applying basic math skills. 

    Even if your child has not encountered verbal reasoning style questions before, they could still possess the natural ability to excel in this area. Those who enjoy different types of puzzles namely – crosswords, word searches, word games and Sudoku seem to grasp the Verbal Reasoning section a lot quicker and more easily. Without doubt, encouraging your child to engage in these kinds of activities provides them with a good foundation for the 11 plus verbal reasoning exams. 

    At first the verbal reasoning exam may seem daunting but the only way to prepare for the 11 plus verbal reasoning exam is to do as many practise questions as possible. Your child will then start to notice the patterns in the questions and arriving at a solution will become a lot quicker. Here at the 11PlusSwot HQ we have compiled a range of practice papers designed to give your child the best possible exposure to all types of questions. Our papers contain 100’s of questions which will ensure they get to do as many verbal reasoning questions as they require.  

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  •  11+ exam results

    You may remember a blog that I wrote a month or so ago, Can a 26 Year Old Pass The 11+ Exam? I certainly do. Having passed with flying colours, I now saw myself as the "don" of the grammar school entry test. Filled with this euphoric feeling, I'm sure you can understand my confidence when I stumbled across an article on the BBC news website asking - "Could you pass the 11-plus?"

    The article was similar to the 11+ sample exam I took. With 10 minutes to answer 15 questions, I started the timer. A combination of verbal & non verbal reasoning questions with a little maths thrown in for good measure.

    On completing the test, I checked my score. 10/15. That's 67%! I immediately began to doubt my 11+ credentials & thought it might be time to invest in some revision resources from the 11+ Swot shop.

    Perhaps the BBC's version of the test picked some of the harder questions, or maybe I was simply having an off day? Have you tried the tests? I'd love to hear your feedback.
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  • williams-sisters-pushy-parents

    Pushy parents are often lambasted by both traditional and social media channels. This post will offer kudos to those parents who will stop at nothing to get the best for their children.

    The majority of people who oppose pushy parents would agree that it is the notion of making a child do something that they don't like doing that they disagree with. It's the belief that if a child is unhappy doing something, then they shouldn't be doing it. I disagree, below I list 5 reasons why a pushy parent is a good parent.

    • "I don't want to...". In life we all have to do things that we oppose. Whether it's taking out the bins or worse, going to work every day. I don't believe that not wanting to, is good enough reason not to do something. The benefits of taking the bins out are that your house will stay clean & odour free. The plus side to not enjoying work is at least being in employment and it's financial compensation.
    • Give it a try. I don't do heights, but I will always try my hardest to conquer this fear in the name of being able to say, I did it. Whether I enjoyed the experience or not, I can say take pride in saying, "I gave it a try and I did/ didn't like it."
    • A sense of achievement. Although naysayers will argue that children will simply rebel, being introduced to a subject and guided through how it works, eventually leaves a child feeling a sense of fulfilment. Often in life the biggest hurdle is making a start. Breaking down a task into bite-sized chunks will make a task more manageable and easier to achieve.
    • Become a success. Look at the Williams sisters. Their father installed a tough work ethic into them, with many citing that they were "bred to play tennis". Whether you agree or disagree with their fathers tactics, it is certainly reaping it's reward now.
    • Nature needs to be nurtured. Ok, so raw talent is something that can't be bought, but it needs to be nurtured. In my opinion, it's worse to waste talent than to have never had it in the first place. Without desire to succeed, even the most gifted child will end up lost amongst the crowd.

    In conclusion, it is imperative that our children are encouraged to succeed. Whether your child needs a little more help with their verbal reasoning skills or numeracy ability, it must be noted that we are not being pushy parents, we are simply guiding them towards a grammar school education and a ultimately better life.

    Do you agree with this post? Or do you take a more laissez faire approach to parenting, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

    Photo courtesy of

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  • Don't Use Said!We found a great Flash video over at the National Grid for Learning Cymru that explores great ways to express yourself when writing up conversation. Rather than using "said" it makes a strong case for using a more descriptive term to indicate that someone has spoken.

    It's a great tip for pupils sitting the English exam, but great advice for anyone! It makes the text more colourful and expressive.

    Besides this, the site is a great resource of learning strategies and advice for pupils of any area.

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  • Empty plate finished dinnerYou've got them doing times-tables backwards, their spelling is perfect and they see non-verbal reasoning patterns in their sleep! But is your child nutritionally prepared for the exam?

    Feeding the tummy with the right foods is almost as important as feeding the mind with the right revision for effective study. Someone who hasn't eaten enough or is dehydrated will not concentrate as well as someone who's packed with nutritious and sustaining food and liquids. 

    Brain food

    Although research is always shifting in this area as we uncover more about the cognitive functions, everybody agrees that breakfast is the best way to get the kids on the right path for the day. Studies show that breakfast helps attention, nutrition and weight control, so there's no reason not to give them a great start. Also try to eat breakfast with them. Not only are you setting an example but it's an important social activity.


    The suggested intake for a child between 7 - 10 years old is:

    Calories Protein Calcium Iron Fat Saturates Salt
    Boys 1970 28.3g 550 mg 8.7 mg 76.6g 24.1g 5g
    Girls 1740 28.3g 550 mg 8.7 mg 67.6g 21.3g 5g

    Source: Government's Committee on the Medical Aspects of Food Policy (COMA) Report 41

    You should try and balance your meals around these numbers, and take care when reading labels in the supermarket. Check back soon for guidance on how you can serve up winning meals and snacks every time.

    Image copyright Leo Saumure Jr. Original image is on Flickr here.

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  • Fountain pen italic handwritingWe get a lot of questions asking us about the importance of handwriting in the eleven plus exam. Should they be trained in formal joined-up writing? Are marks lost through scrappy script?

    As you may have found from teaching your child to write, forcing them into a certain style can slow them down as they re-train their hand. The 11+ exams are of course against very strict time limits. Your child is faced with a dilemma; write fast and possibly untidy, or italics and slower.

    How is it marked?

    Fortunately, there seems to be no accepted style for gaining marks in the exam. As a comparison, the KS2 mark scheme for English has the following paragraph:

    All pupils need to develop a serviceable handwriting style which is legible, clear and encourages the reader to engage with what has been written. This assessment of handwriting is based on pupils’ ability to write legibly and fluently in a sustained piece of writing. Judgements will be made on the basis of the legibility and clarity of the handwriting throughout the longer task, supported by a closer look at the size and position of words and letters. This assessment of handwriting is based on pupils’ ability to write legibly and fluently in a sustained piece of writing.

    And the top marks "for handwriting" are gained by:

    The handwriting is consistent and fluent with letters and words appropriately placed. The handwriting maintains a personal style to engage the reader.

    Clear is best

    Which essentially means as long as the handwriting is clear, consistent and structured there should be no barrier for any particular style of handwriting. So rather than ensuring they write in full italics all the time, ensure your child strikes a balance between legible and swift.

    Image copyright Bill Bradford. Original image is here on Flickr.

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  • 11 Plus Online Tests

    Comments: 0

    Time is marching on. If you have not already started, now is a good time to start studying for the 11+ entrance exam. Most pupils will be taking the test in November or early next year.

    Its a long haul and child should be preparing now for the entrance exam. It's very competitive and places are few and far between when you look at the big picture.

    At we have all the materials you need to give you that head start, online 11plus tests, papers, downloads, cd's, cards etc

    Good luck!

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  • Where to Start

    Getting Started 11 Plus SignpostDon’t panic! Although the whole process can seem like a test for the parents it can be straightforward. It's an unfortunate fact of life that there are more children hoping to get into a grammar school than there are places available. Firstly, do your homework!

    Parents Homework
    Your local educational authority will be able to give you a list of selective schools in your area. We have links from our site to your LEA. Request prospectuses, make visits (schools hold impressive open days but personal visits can sometimes give you a better insight to the true day to day running), talk to both teachers, pupils and other parents and you should get a ‘gut’ feeling for a school that might suit the individual needs of your child.
    Areas to focus on are: support and guidance for pupils' welfare, quality of teaching, attitudes and behaviour, leadership, staffing and resources, attainment and progress, links with the wider community, activities beyond the school day, etc.

    For the exam, most schools will also tell you what subjects to focus on, whether they are multiple choice or standard type questions. They may even have past papers you can get familiar with. Do not rely on the school your child is currently at for answers to your questions, primary schools tend to keep a very low profile when it comes to grammar schools and in our experience scant information is available. YOU have to put the legwork in and do the research.

    Ensure you start early, it's no good leaving this essential research until a few weeks before the exam, start early, stay focused and have your child start preparing for the different subjects relevant to your school of choice. Not all schools do all subjects, some only do Verbal Reasoning, some do Maths & Verbal Reasoning others different combinations. If you have spoken to the school you will know which areas to focus on.

    Information can be found about league table positions on BBC and the Times websites and standards from OFSTED reports.

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