Toxic “stuff” and the 11 Plus

My blog this month is about how to prepare for exams such as the 11 Plus and to have an approach which is efficient and successful. It is also about resources which are not helpful – “stuff.”

How to be successful at the 11 Plus

(At West London Tutoring we prepare for all entrance exams from year 2 to year 8 but our busiest year is always the 11 Plus so I will focus on this area.)

The key to success at the 11 Plus relies on these things:

    1. A good tutor who knows the exams well and knows the schools well. Anything less and it will not be good use of your time and money. Ask your tutor their pass rate, their qualifications, their experience and their resources, and how big are the group sizes?
    2. Reading. In order to be able to undertake comprehension (and for vocabulary and ideas in creative writing) your child needs to be able to read and understand a good quality book, preferably a classic. Unsure of which books to read? Don’t worry I have written you a list, and I have read every book on the list. I would say you need to read a classic book every month, and to write a review afterwards. Reluctant reader? Then you co-read with them for 20 minutes every night. It’s great quality time for you both.
    3. Avoid “stuff.”
      If you scroll through amazon, browse your local book-store, visit WH Smith’s or use google to find resources for the 11 Plus – there is a LOT of stuff out there. Does it work? Sadly, I’m really not so sure.

I generally prepare around 30 children for the 11 Plus each year and have done so for many years, I see a lot of different approaches and maybe I see what works and what doesn’t.

Giving your child booklets which are not focused on their specific needs, too easy or too difficult, boring or badly written means that your child becomes resentful of their free time being used in a way which they know doesn’t help them, but because it says “11 Plus” or “Expert” or “Success” they are expected to do them. The child then makes less effort, marks and ability go down.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some excellent products on the market, and I know some fabulous websites, books and booklets which I very much recommend and use successfully every year – but there is a lot of badly written “stuff” and you need to avoid this.

So how do you sift through the market? Again, back to number one and a good quality tutor who knows your child well and can highlight their strengths and weaknesses. They will have tried and tested favourites, they will also know where your child needs to focus.

It’s always good to check in with your tutor and will save you a lot of time and energy if your child is undertaking relevant preparation – and not involved in toxic “stuff!”