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How to prepare your child for the 11 plus

A step by step guide

Most importantly before starting the selection and preparation process you will need to assess your child:
  • speak with your child’s current teacher and ascertain whether they think your son or daughter has the ability to pass grammar or private school entrance examinations;
  • are there any areas of weakness that could be improved;
  • will the school be helping to prepare the children for the 11 Plus tests;
  • have children from the school gained places at local grammar or private schools?;
  • assess your child yourself by using practice tests and judging the results.
  • 70-75% is a rough guide for a pass mark.

Competition for places at selective private and grammar schools is extremely high.

Naturally parents want to maximise their children’s chances of gaining a place and to provide the best possible educational opportunities for them. All tests and examinations are stressful, not least the eleven plus. Stress can often be made worse by friction between parent and child over the whole process. Therefore find out all that you can about the 11 plus tests in your area and prepare thoroughly. Good preparation will improve your own and your child’s understanding of what is required. Parental support and encouragement is crucial for your child’s self confidence, attitude to their school work and preparing for the tests.

If you believe that your child would enjoy and benefit from attending a grammar school or private school and feel that they should pass their examinations, then enter them in for the exam. If you don’t think that they will pass, then you have the choice not to continue. If you are unsure, go with your gut instinct. If your child sits the exam and fails, this is not the end of the world. The selection process is meant to divide up the school population and perhaps a grammar school is not actually right for your child. Children who just scrape through their examinations may find it difficult to fit in and if they end up at the bottom of their class can develop low self-esteem, which can lead to other problems. There are plenty of opportunities within the school system for your child to succeed in their own way, particularly if you can help them to build up their confidence.

What should you do?

Don’t Panic!

Firstly research, research, research, this will ensure you make the right choices for your child’s education, being well prepared will help you to reduce anxiety for your child and yourself.

  • Find out from your child’s primary school or local Education Authority the grammar schools within your catchment area.
  • Attend Open Days with your child, at all the available schools locally before making your choice. 
  • speak to existing pupils
  • review pupil’s books
  • speak with teachers
  • meet the Head of Year 7
  • Speak to parents whose children have already made the move to the local grammar or private school
  • Visit the LEA’s website to gather information regarding the admission processes, forms etc 
  • Talk to your child’s current teacher or Head Teacher regarding the choices available, admission procedures and preparation needed, for your child. 
  • Review OFSTED reports and attainment tables
  • Find out from the grammar school that you have chosen, what you need to do; the school should be able to give you more precise details of the exams they use, relevant dates and procedures to follow. 
  • Find out where your child will sit their 11+ examinations, via the current primary school, LEA or the grammar school involved

Then review:

  • Sit down with your child and openly discuss what each of you like or dislikes about the schools researched and visited
  • Children perform better when they are happy
  • Be objective; make the decision based on the best interests of your child.