I agree 100% with you. I recall my cousins passing the eleven plus in the eighties, there was no talk of tutors and I wouldn't say any of them were academically brilliant, just average at that time. We didn't have the eleven plus where I lived, but I went to an all girls ex convent school in Manchester which had been a grammar school and it was as good as any grammar.
Its ridiculous that children have to sit multiple exams. We did two and that was stressful enough, thankfully all over now, pass or fail.
I feel it is hugely detrimental for the children to have to spend two months constantly sitting exams, but I completely understand that parents are doing it with their best intentions at heart.
I am horrified that you saw children crying and worse. I must say I saw some pale and harrassed looking kids in the queue at Altrincham and it wasn't nice to see. Its easy to say now, but if my son has shown even the slightest distress I would have not put in him for the exams. He was a little upset the night of the Alty exam afterwards but he was absolutely shattered which I think was the main reason.
We are lucky in that our catchment comps are pretty good, some parents move into the area for this reason, but I know thats not the case everywhere.