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When is the best time to start with 11 plus tutoring?


Dec 8, 2022, 10:23 AM

When is the best time to start with 11 plus tutoring?

If your child is applying for a grammar school or selective independent school, they will likely need to pass the 11 plus, or the school’s own entrance exam, to secure a place. Many parents look to private tutoring to help increase their child’s chances.

Every child is different and learns at a different pace. Beginning 11 plus tutoring too early may cause burnout and loss of momentum. On the other hand, starting too late – such as in the weeks leading up to the exam – may cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. It will not give your child an appropriate amount of time to internalise the content and develop exam technique.

What age should I get a tutor for my child?

If your child is performing well at school in their core subjects (i.e. maths and English) you may wish to start tutoring early in Year 5 – approximately one year before the 11 plus.

At this point, your child should have built the necessary core skills from completing Lower Key Stage 2 (Years 3–4), but they will need to start developing advanced skills and subject knowledge to complete the 11 plus. If your chosen secondary school’s entrance exam includes verbal and non-verbal reasoning (neither of which are taught at primary school), this will allow sufficient time for your child to finesse their reasoning skills with a tutor.

On the other hand, if your child’s school reports suggest that they are finding their core subjects challenging, you may wish to begin 11 plus tutoring earlier (i.e. in Year 4). Most schools will test prospective pupils on their maths and English skills, so it’s important that your child is confident with the curriculum material before moving on to learn verbal and non-verbal reasoning.

How much 11 plus practice should you do each week?

Grammar school and independent school admissions can be particularly competitive. Your child will have the best chance for success if they have built their English and maths subject mastery and reasoning ability over a longer period of time. ‘Little and often’ is the most effective way to build most skills, and 11 plus exam preparation is no different.

Practice papers (also known as mock tests) are a great way to see how your child performs under test conditions, but bear in mind that practice papers will not help your child build subject mastery. It’s important that your child develops their knowledge of English, maths and reasoning first to ensure they can cope with the ability level of the questions. Once they have grasped the curriculum content, they should then incorporate practice papers to improve their speed and exam technique.

Year 4

  • Set regular practice of 20–30 minutes a few times a week

  • Tackle different English and maths topics throughout the week to keep practice balanced

  • Begin studying verbal and non-verbal reasoning at the end of Year 4

  • Beyond formal practice, encourage your child to read regularly and widely

Year 5

  • Increase 11 plus practice time to 20–30 minutes on school days, with one longer session (e.g. up to one hour) at the weekend

  • If your child’s target school tests verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning, make sure they are practising these questions every week

  • Ensure your child is balancing learning new content with revising topics previously covered

  • Introduce practice papers in the summer term (one per month)

Year 6

  • Maintain the momentum, but balance activities between testing and revision

  • Complete one practice paper per week

  • Make sure to prioritise time for self-care!

For more detail on how to approach the timing of your child’s exam preparation, watch this free parent webinar:

When to begin 11 plus preparation: parent webinar

Boost your child’s 11 plus performance with Atom Tuition

Atom Tuition can help you find the perfect private tutor for your child. Our team of dedicated client managers will talk to you about your child and their specific goals. We’ll then carefully select the right tutor to help your child prepare for the 11 plus and build academic confidence.

You’ll get:

  • A uniquely personalised and data-driven online tuition service

  • An experienced tutor who has a proven track record for 11 plus success with GL Assessment, CEM, ISEB and more

  • Weekly reporting and termly assessments, with 24/7 access to your child’s progress data

  • Discounted access to our award-winning online learning platform Atom Nucleus for continuous learning between sessions

  • 100% satisfaction guaranteed; if you feel that your introductory lesson isn’t a positive experience, we’ll give you a free replacement with another tutor or a full refund

Find out more about Atom Tuition

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