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The Tuition Arena - January 2021
11+ exams are a series of exams that are used by secondary schools for identifying academically performing students. If you want your child to enter a good independent or a grammar school, preparing them for the 11+ entrance exam is essential.
Most of the topics required for these examinations might be generally covered in previous years of schooling of your children. However, the specific knowledge and need for further study/practice would be different for each student. These exams would generally be conducted between December and March in the case of Independent Schools while grammar schools mostly conduct them in September.
In the process of preparing for these examinations, not only children but their parents have a lot to do. Here in this article, let us see how you can make sure that your child passes the 11+ entrance examination. Let us start with an understanding of these exams itself.
Structure and syllabus are one of the first things you need to know about 11+ exams. While the syllabus for all the schools generally follow the national curriculum and do not diverge greatly, the structure of the exam might diverge considerably.
There are two main boards for these examinations: The CEM (Durham University) and the GL Assessment. What board’s exam your child writes will depend on the location and school.
Now, let us first discuss the syllabus. As said already, there is almost a very little difference between the boards for the syllabus of the exam. The Syllabus typically contains the following: English, Maths, Verbal and non-verbal reasoning.
In English, the following topics could be tested: Spellings, Punctuation, Sentence Structure, Comprehension, Grammar, Vocabulary and Literacy.
In verbal reasoning, a lot of kinds of questions could be asked. In essence, vocabulary skill and memory would be tested.
Within the non-verbal reasoning, questions would be asked regarding spatial awareness and shapes.
Coming to the structure, generally, English and Maths are tested separately on separate papers. Some tests could be written longhand kind while some others could be entire computer-based. There are OMR based papers too. On an average, most of the 11+ entrance exams last between 40 to 50 minutes. GL papers generally would be a mixture of standard format and multiple choice questions. CEM papers could include both math and non verbal reasoning questions in a single paper, so they would be present in different sections.
There is no specific pass mark for clearing the 11+ examinations. So how is the pass percentage decided? Let us see.
For grammar schools, the responsibility of setting the pass mark is in the hands of Local Educational authorities. These local educational authorities have their influence over a set of areas and decide the pass marks related to the grammar schools in them.
In general, if an area has more number of grammar schools, the pass mark would be less than the area that has less number of grammar schools.
In the case of independent schools, however, the situation is completely different. They will not have a default pass mark set for them and they may…
However, many people will advise getting a mark higher than 75% to will up your child’s chances of clearing the exam.
Now that you know important information about the exam, let us consider some of the steps that help your child for clearing the 11+ exam:
Though your child may already be taught some of the concepts, practising them well is important. That is why they need to start the preparation for these exams early.
The exact time when you need to start depends on your children. A minimum of 2 weeks is recommended.
As you have seen from the syllabus, a lot of topics are there in the examination. While scoring 75% might be enough in general, it is highly advisable to cover all the topics in the syllabus.
As of vocabulary, learning new words every day and letting them watch television would help. This would apply in general English too.
As for mathematics, it is highly recommended to teach them the base concepts and let them practise a few bits. However, there is also a need for exposure to the actual questions, which brings us to the next topic:
There are a lot of places where you can get papers for study. Those could be previous papers or sample papers. In many cases, the schools themselves would give past papers for our reference. By practising those papers, your children would have an idea as to how exactly the exam is going to be and can develop the intuition and skills for solving them.
Not only practising to solve the questions, it is also important to manage time efficiently. Make sure that you adequately measure time and correct any shortcomings in time management.
While self teaching your children is great, sometimes it could be a better idea to enroll your children in tuitions. A prime reason why this is helpful is that the faculty over there would be experienced in this and thus would have more knowledge to guide your children and have a very high chance of making sure that your child passes the examination.
11+ exams are important for our child to have a good secondary education. The Structure and syllabus might be different for each school, but there are some general patterns that can help you understand the exams better.
Your child must be good at English, Verbal and Non verbal reasoning and mathematics to have a hope of passing the exams with good grades.
Remember that you should not make your child feel that this exam solely decides their future. Tell them to give their best and you accept any result.
All the best!