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Swot Up blog - hints, tips, news and events from the 11 plus swot world
  • Since launching the page on May 5th 2011 we have used facebook as a tool to promote our blogs & create a number of discussions around the eleven plus exam. The growth of the page has been largely organic and our hearts have been warmed by many of the kind words that our fans have blessed us with.

    To celebrate this milestone we have created a timeline:

    May 5th: Our fan page was born


     May 9th: We reached 25 fans & received our vanity url

     11+ vanity

    June 13th: Our 11+ revision mascot is unveiled for the first time

    11+ worm unveiled 

    July 18th: Photos from the 52 mile bike ride in aid of Farleigh Hospice were published

    bike ride hell

    July 26th: The worm is named "Zoltan" after a facebook poll

    zoltan named

    August 1st: We reached 50 fans!!

    August 11th: We share 5 amazing things to do this summer holiday

    things to do summer blog

    September 15th: We reach 100 fans!!

    facebook button 

    Follow us on facebook & twitter & join the conversation.

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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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  • literacy 

    Although the literacy rates in the UK make good reading, figures for other parts of the world are a far less rosy. In contrast to the UK's 99% of over 15 year olds attaining at least a basic level of literacy, countries including Afghanistan & Sierra Leone are far less fortunate with rates of 28% & 37% respectively. Figures courtesy of UNESCO.

    September 8th celebrates International Literacy Day 2011 and we thought there's no better way to celebrate than with an English test of our own, courtesy of the team at 11+ Swot.

    In each question below, find the two words that are different from the others.

    Example: (blue, mountaincat, yellow, purple)

    Question 1

    a) panic

    b) fear

    c) ghost

    d) horror

    e) snake


    Question 2

    a) taunt

    b) compliment

    c) ridicule

    d) mock

    e) unwrap


    Question 3

    a) Paris

    b) Sydney

    c) Japan

    d) Canada

    e) Birmingham


    Question 4

    a) turnip

    b) kiwi

    c) parsnip

    d) mango

    e) carrot


    Question 5

    a) ant

    b) lug

    c) carry

    d) suitcase

    e) bear



    1. C, E 2. B, E 3. C, D 4. B, D 5. A, D

    Did you score 100%. For more eleven plus questions, take a sample test.

    To find out more about International Literacy Day 2011, visit their website.

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  • literacy

    In celebration of International Literacy Day 2011 (September 8th), I have written a series of blogs to raise awareness of the event. There are huge inadequacies across the world in terms of literacy levels. We are fortunate in the UK to be at the favourable end of the league table. This blog will attempt to outline the importance of literacy over numeracy and vice versa.

    The Literacy Argument

    Literacy features in the vast majority of day to day activities, from reading the newspaper to holding a conversation with a friend. It is almost impossible to lead a normal life without being literate.

    The ability to express one's self through words and symbols has been considered by many as the purest form of art. From cavemen etching stories on the walls to the modern day novelist expressing their deepest emotions onto electronic devices.

    Put simply, literacy opens doors. A poorly worded CV is as likely to get a person employed as a mute performance in an interview. On the contrary, a well written letter or blog will encourage conversation and respect. That's the beauty of written and spoken English. It oozes seniority & commands respect, providing it is applied correctly.

    The Numeracy Argument

    I think most will agree that the world revolves around money. The amount of wealth a person possesses correlates positively with an individual's quality of life.

    It would be all to obvious to point out that money is counted in numbers, but to put it bluntly, it is. From childhood concerns, do I have enough money to buy all of those sweets? Into adulthood, can I afford the mortgage repayments on that house?

    It is without doubt that the UK, along with the remainder of the EU & United States are in a fairly poor state economically. Repossessions, debt & disillusionment with our leaders has ensued, but could this have been avoided if people were more number savvy?

    In Conclusion, Numeracy Wins

    Being literate is a gift, for sure. However, numeracy is vastly overlooked, simply because it's not every day that we are faced with Pythagoras' Theorum. The ability to figure out whether a particular mortgage is sustainable or whether you should upgrade your car to the latest model revolves around the skill of being numerate and will have a direct effect on your quality of life.

    Do you agree?  Or do you think the world would be a better place without numbers?

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  • baby-passes-11+-exam

    This morning, whilst sifting through my Google Reader, I stumbled across a story about a 6 year old girl from Chadwell Heath achieving a GCSE in Mathematics. Though she only received an E grade, I wondered whether this was the start of things to come? The  article went on to tell of a 9 year old boy passing, with an A grade in the same exam, better than the vast majority of  Year 10/11 pupils. [Read the article here]

    I was amazed that a minority of children are outperforming peers, almost 10 years their senior. A quick search of the internet threw up reports of a Macedonian boy passing his Microsoft Certified Examination for IT Professionals [Further reading here]& a 16 year old becoming the youngest ever to pass their accountancy exam [Further reading here]. This was madness, not only are children scoring higher than children old enough to be their brothers & sisters, but now they are closing in on their parents.

    The debates will rage about exams getting easier, with GCSE pass rates rising [Read more], likewise with A Level & University students. But are our children simply getting brighter? With the continued developments in technology, communication and accessibility to information, I prophesise that it won't be long until we read of the first newborn baby becoming the youngest ever to pass the 11+ exam.

    Are your children ready for the to take the eleven plus test? Try a sample paper here & share your results in the comments section below.

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  • library

    20 years ago, researching the finer details of the eleven plus exam would have been restricted to sifting through literature in your dads bookcase before waiting for the library to open on a Monday morning. Nowadays, thanks to the internet & Google in particular, a wealth of information is at our children's fingertips.

    We live in a world where everything is available at the click of a button, whether we are looking for that piece of information or not. Ok, so there are issues with internet safety. Parents are becoming increasingly concerned that their child is being corrupted, when they are probably happily researching away. If this is you, don't worry the internet is here to help.

    How can I change the security settings on my computer?

    Internet browsing can easily be made more secure by changing a few settings on your browser. Although browsers vary from Explorer, to Google Chrome & Safari, the settings in essence are the same for all providers. For the commonly used Internet Explorer, click settings > internet options > security & increase the sensitivity level to your taste. For other browsers, help about changing settings can be found, well, under the help option.

    What does a high sensitivity level mean?

    A high sensitivity level will block sites;

    • That "may contain" harmful content (that's pretty much everything you need worry about blocked)
    • Maximum safeguards (that's the obvious stuff blocked, plus a little more)
    • Less secure features (If your browser suspects anything at all, whether it's a pop up or a site with invalid credentials, these will not appear, just to be safe)

    On top of this, it is easy to block specific sites (for example, games sites if the computer is only to be used for homework). We also recommend blocking pop up's as these are the source of most offence.

    What happens if these settings still fail?

    Click CEOP, a site designed to report the abuse of children, are spot on when it comes to reporting suspect activity on the internet. Their safety button can be downloaded here. Now, if your child stumbles across a lucrative site during their 11+ revision, or if they are the subject of cyber bullying, this can easily be reported and stopped.

    What has this got to do with libraries?

    The internet is a big place, as is the world. Children can get lost along the way and need a little guidance, whether it's telling them not to walk down a certain alley way en route to the library or ensuring that they don't visit certain sites on the internet. Your child will likely make the decision which route to take by themselves, the main advantage of the internet being that you can guide them whichever way you like with a clever use of settings.

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  • Today I decided to take a leap from the backseat and attempt the 11+ exam. As a 26 year old, a lot was riding on the results. Sure, if I had failed miserably, I would have undoubtedly been blogging about something else right now.

    I opted to take the medium length practice test. 20 questions, 20 minutes to answer them. I could have chosen a 10 or 30 question test, but felt that former gave less margin for error. Getting two questions wrong would mean a score of 80%. On the contrary, 30 questions could have proved even more embarrassing, with the odds against me to get every question correct.

    To my surprise, I battled through a combination of Maths, English, Verbal & Non Verbal Reasoning questions, scoring a respectable 19/20 (with over 9 minutes to spare). Ok, so at 26 I should really have performed well in this test in comparison to a child 15 years my junior, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little proud.

    My toughest challenge was the verbal reasoning questions. Here's an example of the kind of question your child will face;

    If the code for UNKNOWN is VPNRTCU What does OCWYWGS mean?

    In conclusion, I was a little fortunate to score so highly & I'm sure that my life experiences including a sound education had a large part to play.

    Can your child outperform my result? I'd love to hear your feedback, even if I am a little worried...

    Take a sample test here.


    11 Plus Test Result

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  •  learner

    "Chalk and Talk" is the concept whereby a teacher stands at the front of the class and recites information for the pupils to take a carbon copy. This style of teaching is fast going the way of the dodo, thanks to the introduction of modern technologies.

    The classroom has reversed the institution of teachers teaching, putting emphasis on learners learning. Here are 4 reasons as to why this new style is more effective;

    1. It gives the pupil ownership of the learning outcome - It's simple. If Mr Jones chalks the question through to the answer, essentially pupils are nothing but human photocopiers. Discovering the answer through research will ensure that the pupils feels valued and reassure them that they "can do it".
    2. Preparation for adulthood - The world is digital, using the internet to research a topic is part of everyday life for adults. If we go back to basics, school is essentially a feed for the employment market.
    3. It encourages imagination - With the exception of Maths, there are 101 ways to get that A grade, especially for creative subjects such as English, Art & Technology. An active mind is all part of a healthy lifestyle.
    4. It's more interesting - Anyone who has come home with hand cramps will fight this corner, interaction rocks!

    Ok, so there are some instances when teachers do need to recite information for the pupil to absorb, however, only through application of that knowledge, will a child actually learn & understand the subject.

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  •  too-many-graduates

    With record numbers of graduates failing to secure employment upon leaving university, the education system surely needs to be reviewed. Recent reports according to the BBC suggest that as many as 83 graduates are applying for each vacancy. Although the 11+ test is seen as elitist by the minority, it's selectiveness could save students thousands of pounds.

    Let's compare the two systems;

    To pass the 11+ exam & secure grammar school placement, there is no percentage pass mark per se. Pass marks are weighted in accordance with overall results, allowing only the allocated number of grammar school places to be filled. To obtain a 1st degree at university, you simply need an average of >70% for all of your modules.

    Ok, so it's not easy to average over 70%, but in theory everyone could get a first, thus devaluing the quality the grade. Likewise, with the 11+ exam it is possible to achieve a score of 99% and still not obtain grammar school entry.

    What would happen if universities employed this system?

    The percentage pass rate system would see some changes in the way degree accreditations were valued. With say only 5% of students receiving first class accreditation many would see a benefit;

    • The best candidates would be more visible to employers.
    • Competition for grades would be heightened & in turn increase learning.
    • Potential achievers of lower graded degrees may opt for a more vocational path to employment, saving thousands in tuition fees and time. This route could also see a fast track to success.

    Who would lose out?

    As with most winning formulas, there are always a couple of losers;

    • The government have the potential to lose millions in tuition fees.
    • Underperforming universities are likely to see a decline in registration & potential closure.

    The conclusion

    In the tough economic climate, the vast majority university-goers would be better suited to finding employment & getting qualified whilst working. Aside from saving thousands of pounds on tuition fees and loans, students would be earning money and gaining a head start on their peers. For the top students, a university degree would regain its value as less people would be classed as graduates.

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