11 plus preparation - when to start

11 plus

If your child is in Year 5 then as Pseudonymous Bosch (or Drake for the rap fans among you) would say "if you're reading this it is too late". It's not actually too late for your Year 5 child to start preparing for the 11 plus, but I would recommend you to start today!

Ideally, for most children I would recommend starting a year before the 11 plus exam, this gives long enough to prepare thoroughly, but is not too long that your child will be totally sick of 11 plus preparation by the time the exam comes round. I would also recommend gradually increasing the amount of work given, to reach a peak in the summer holidays (sorry kids!) as there will be only a few weeks to go before the exam and children will not be getting the regular input they would get from school. I would also recommend that you ease off on the work in the last couple of weeks before the exams. If a child has been working towards the 11 plus for a year then they are not going to gain much more in the last couple of weeks and they need to be as relaxed as possible when they go into the exam. As a cross-country runner during my school days I would never dream of doing a hard training session the day before (or even two days before) an important race and I used the same principle before important exams, although I admit I have friends who have obtained first class honours degrees by staying up all night cramming, the night before their exams!

If you start eleven plus preparation earlier than a year before the exam, I would suggest concentrating on basic English and maths rather than worrying about the verbal and non-verbal reasoning at this stage. The format of the 11 plus is not fixed and has a habit of changing every few years, although any areas using the CEM exam at the moment are likely to continue for at least the next two or three years, but whatever format the eleven plus in your area takes, it will certainly involve English and maths. In addition to this I find the verbal and non-verbal reasoning books for 8-9, 7-8 and (would you believe it?), 6-7 year olds rather pointless. The standard of the questions is obviously far below that of the actual 11 plus and if it is going to take a child five years to grasp the basic concepts of verbal and non-verbal reasoning then they should not be taking the test.

If you plan to use a tutor you need to find one and reserve a place several months (or even in some cases a year or two) before the tuition starts. Good tutors get booked up well in advance.