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Swot Up blog - hints, tips, news and events from the 11 plus swot world Show all posts
  • When revising, if you get stuck on a question, don’t panic! There are many resources available online that can help you!

    It’s no surprise that E learning is on the rise. Technology is now used in many ways to aid learning, such as online practice exams and video tutorials, both of which can be found on the 11 plus swot website.

    The main aim of video tutorials is to explain processes clearly and concisely without too much effort required from the student. Written tutorials can sometimes be useful, but often the reader must apply a higher degree of time and energy just to understand the directions that they are supposed to follow.

    Videos on the 11 plus swot website have been tailored to suit the age and learning styles of students taking the 11 plus exam. There are more than 50 online video tutorials on the 11 plus swot website covering how to approach different styles of questions from both the verbal reasoning and mathematics section of the test. Below is an example of one of the 11 plus verbal reasoning video tutorials available on the 11PlusSwot site

    Video tutorials give students flexibility, as they are able to watch them at their own pace and replay some of the more difficult concepts. In addition, there is a much higher chance that students will be engaged by a video than a book. On videos with a voice over students may get an unconscious feeling of communication appealing to their social needs and holding their attention. Also most importantly, e learning can be fun! Learning using multi-media is refreshingly different from traditional forms of learning and may provide the motivation students need to achieve their maximum potential.

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  • Although you will have heard countless times ‘practice, practice and practice’ is the key for success in the 11 plus exam, this is not entirely true, knowing how to revise and practice is actually the key. Below are some helpful tips and some simple ways to engage your child and get them revising effectively.

    Overloading is not helpful! Allow children 5 – 10 minute breaks every so often; this will help them retain information more easily. Also, remember a 9-10 year olds typical attention span is only around 30-50 minutes! Working towards increasing this for the test is very important.

    Try changing the place your child revises. Revising in different places around the house or even in a library will make it easier for your child to be in a new environment for the test day.

    Visual Aids! Mind maps and spider diagrams are a good way to summarise and link a large amount of information concisely. They can be displayed around the house, such as on the back of a toilet door, or the on the fridge; your child will be revising without knowing it every time they walk past.

    Use incentives and rewards! If your child meets a target during revision set mini-treats as motivation.

    Make preparation as realistic as possible. Doing mock exams is one of the most effective ways to revise. The 11PlusSwot website has many different practice questions and papers, give them a go! Also in the run up to the exam complete practice papers at the same time of day as the exam, this will help your child mentally adjust to perform at their peak at this time of day. Doing practice papers under exam conditions will help your child to improve their time management.

    Spend more time practicing the topics your child is weakest at. Children will try to avoid topics they are not so good at! Allocating more time to these subjects will make them less daunting.

    Using mnemonics is a good way to remember information. (E.g. Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain, to remember the colours of the rainbow). Make them personal so they are easier for your child to remember.

    Make sure your child gets enough sleep in the run up to the exam so that they are fresh on the day of the exam.

    Arrive early on the day of the exam; this will help you both stay calm!

    Some last minute advice before the exam: If your child is starting to panic, let them know you will be proud of them no matter what the outcome. All they can do is try their best! 

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  • Children and parents alike were left shocked and confused when a recent change to the exam period was announced. Many parents start to prepare their child months in advance before sitting an eleven plus exam. To be told that they will potentially lose 3 months preparation time was not welcomed across the board.

    But is it all doom and gloom I hear you ask? Well no actually, there is method to their madness.

    Currently the 11 plus exam is held towards the end of November. By this time parents must choose which secondary schools to apply for. This may not seem like a problem but what if your child doesn’t pass the 11 plus exam? Frantic applications to the best state schools in the area will follow... Followed by a swift rejection letter saying they are already oversubscribed. Every parent’s worst nightmare!

    Let’s re-wind the clock and take the 11 plus exam in September. Your child passes and it’s all smiles and cheers. Your child fails and... No problem. You haven’t had to choose which schools to apply for yet! Now you can apply for the best state schools in the area safe in the knowledge that your child has a good a chance as any into getting into a good school.

    Here at 11plus swot we are behind the proposed changes and hope you, as parents, can see the benefits too.  For help with revising check out our easy to use online testing service. 

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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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  •  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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