Myths about 11 Plus Preparation

It is sometimes a surprise to parents to find out that children are tutored for the Eleven Plus. The advice given in many areas by schools and Admission Authorities is that preparation for the 11+ tests is unnecessary, and many parents take this advice at face value. This advice tends to be prevalent particularly in areas where the tests consist of only Verbal or Non-Verbal Reasoning, the argument being that these papers test innate ability and therefore they cannot be “taught”.

However a study conducted in Northern Ireland (Bunting and Mooney – 2004) showed that “coaching by tutors can significantly boost attainment in the Eleven Plus exams. Five hundred students were asked to complete a number of tests – with some given tuition beforehand. Just three hours of extra help was shown to have a significant effect on attainment – and this effect became substantial after nine months of tutoring”.

So, while it may be true that Verbal Reasoning and Non-verbal Reasoning tests do assess innate ability, it appears that tutoring does have an effect on the outcome of the test. Tutoring provides increased familiarity with the question types and allows the child to practise the techniques needed to solve them, in much the same way as doing a Sudoku or crossword, it becomes easier the more frequently you complete it.

Where the 11+ tests also comprise English or Maths papers, the case for tutoring depends on the quality of your child’s current school, their current level of attainment and whether they are undertaking tasks in school that are similar to those set in the 11 Plus. For example, a typical 11+ English task is to write an essay in a short period of time, such as 20 – 30 minutes, with 5 minutes allowed for planning the task. Many children of 9 or 10 years old have not yet mastered the process of producing a balanced essay – frequently the work will have a lot of “beginning”, a little bit of “middle” and a brief, hurried “end”. This is an example of where tutoring can be invaluable, not only for the 11+ exams, but for your child’s future success at school.

11 Plus Tutors

Although it is entirely possible to prepare your own child for the 11 Plus, and this site provides ample advice on how to do that, many parents choose to employ a tutor instead for various reasons. Some parents are too busy to commit the time required to tutor their own child, while others feel that they do not have the right skills to undertake coaching. Many parents feel that their child simply won’t respond well to a parent coaching them and the only outcome will be family strife! Regular tutoring sessions or a holiday tuition course can help to motivate a child, provide a clear structure to the process and help to reduce the stresses and strains between parent and child. With a good tutor preparing them for the tests, your child should approach the 11+ with increased confidence.

Only you can assess whether your child needs to be tutored. If you decide to employ a tutor, we aim to guide you through the process of finding and choosing the right tutor for your child, and ensure that you get value for money from what can be a considerable expense for many parents.