How Do You Know If Your Child Should Sit the 11 Plus Exam?

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The greatest thing a parent can do is secure their children a bright future. One of the best ways to do this, is to ensure the best possible education for your child. It is for this reason that many parents across the UK pine for their children’s admission to grammar schools. For many years, grammar schools have been criticised and praised due to one large aspect of their admissions and this is the 11 Plus exam. Therefore, it is common for many parents to be hesitant before registering their children for the test.

The 11 Plus exam is no simple task and requires lots of dedication from both parent and child. You may be wondering whether it is right for your child to sit the exam. In theory, the only students who should take the 11 Plus exam are those interested in going to grammar school. Having said this, it is usually only those who are exceptionally gifted academically who take the test. Therefore, a good indicator of whether your child should take the exam, is whether or not they excel at school.

It should be noted that some topics tested on the 11 Plus exam are not regularly taught in most primary schools. This means that even if your child is not exceptionally gifted at school subjects, there is still a good chance at passing the exam. Read on to find out whether sitting the test is the right thing for your child.

Should your child sit the 11 Plus exam?

Before deciding whether or not your child should sit the 11 Plus exam, it is important to understand why you would sit the exam and the potential drawbacks. The 11 Plus exam is generally for the more academically gifted students. If your child falls into this category, then taking this exam should be a serious consideration. Unfortunately, there is no right or wrong answer, every child is different. I suggest reading the rest of this article to help you make your decision.

The 11 Plus exam is an incredibly selective academic examination used by grammar schools across the country, it is used to identify the students who are expected to achieve more academic success. The selectiveness of the exam is what gives grammar schools a prestigious reputation. Therefore, hundreds of thousands of parents are encouraged to register their children to take the 11 Plus exam.

The exam consists of 4 main topics. These test both a student’s ability to absorb knowledge and their ability to think critically. These topics include English, mathematics, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning. Check out this article from Think Student for a more detailed explanation of the contents of the test.

Is tutoring necessary to pass the 11 Plus exam?

The critical thinking aspect of the exam is tested through the verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning papers. However, this is not taught as part of the school syllabus in primary school. This is part of the reason why many parents choose the option of private tutors to prepare their children for the test.

However, it should be noted that preparing for the test can be quite expensive if you go down this route. The average price of tutoring in London is approximately £40 per hour. These prices tend to increase, due to the increase in number of applicants every year.

Check out this article by Think Student which discussed how hard the 11 Plus exam is. This should help you decide whether investing in a tutor is right for your child.

It is important to note that your child should be able to handle the academic rigour of grammar schools once they receive admission even without the help of tutors. Therefore, some bright students will pass through self-teaching or gifted academic ability. Check out this article from Think Student for ways to revise for the exam.

Understanding your child’s academic ability is a good way to identify whether or not they are ready to take the test before spending money on a tutor.

When does your child sit the 11 Plus exam?

The name 11 Plus comes from the age at which students enter secondary school. Thus, students generally take the exam near the beginning of Year 6, at the ages 10 to 11. Tutoring for the exam generally happens at the beginning of Year 5 but can start much earlier. Check out this article from Think Student to find out exactly when the 11 plus exam is. This article details how old your child will likely be when taking the 11 Plus exam.

The day the test happens is entirely dependent on the school you are applying for and the area it is in. The exam is typically conducted in the grammar school itself. However, this also depends on availability and the number of applicants. It is possible that central locations, like test centres, may be chosen as the venue.

What are 11 Plus mock exams?

Most students who take the test will not have been exposed to traditional examinations, in assessment halls, surrounded by invigilators. This can be an extremely stressful situation for young people.

In order to ease the stress and support their child further, some parents may choose to enrol their children for mock 11 Plus exams. These mock exams are taken under standard test conditions in strict time limits. Whilst they can be costly, these tests can help your child familiarise themselves with the format of the exam and highlight key areas for improvement.

Many mock exam centres are run by private companies and will have varying exam dates for different parts of the UK. However, many mock exams will usually take place in July and August, leaving lots of time for your child to receive constructive feedback before their real 11 Plus exam. Similarly, to the real exam, the mock exam venue will most likely also be in a school. This will also increase your child’s confidence for when they take the exam.

An example of a popular 11 Plus exam company is Chuckra. Check out this list of exam dates from Chuckra to find out more about the structure of the mock exams and to find the nearest one to you.

What are the advantages of sitting the 11 Plus exam?

Overall, the prestige that is associated with the 11 Plus exam and grammar schools are the main driving force for applications from aspiring students and their parents.

There are lots of advantages to sitting the exam and the biggest one is the possibility of entrance to a grammar school. In comparison to non-selective secondary schools, grammar schools boast a greater academic achievement, due to greater expectations pushed on students. Thus, most grammar students are accepted into high-ranking universities. Check out  this article from Think Student for a more in- depth explanation of the benefits of grammar schools.

The range of topics covered in the 11 Plus exam assesses a student’s knowledge in different areas. This gives them a greater chance of passing the exam because they do not have to perform perfectly in all of the topics to pass the exam.

A significant advantage of tests in general is that they are a method of growth. Competing against others at an early age raises your determination to learn more and acquire more knowledge. Even if your child does not pass the exam, it will help to give them an idea of where they are in comparison to other students their age and what areas they need to improve upon.

Preparing for the 11 Plus exam will also prepare them for later exams like the Key Stage 2 SATS and GCSEs and more. Your child will have a greater drive to succeed and will work harder for these future exams due to the work ethic they will have formed in preparation for the exam.

What are the disadvantages of sitting the 11 Plus exam?

The 11 Plus exam is frequently discussed by both politicians and the general public. Many believe that the exam does not actually assess a student’s potential to succeed but rather the learning conditions that they have been exposed to.  

Preparing for the 11 Plus exam includes two aspects which are: a student’s ability to consume knowledge, and a parent’s ability to provide the best resources for their child. Therefore, many students of working-class families will be disadvantaged, even if they have the potential to succeed, due to the high prices of revision material. Check out this article  to hear the thoughts of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on the topic of classism associated with the exam.

Many academics agree that exams can induce large amounts of unnecessary stress in people. Therefore, there is reason for you to be hesitant before registering your child for the 11 Plus exam. The average admission rate to grammar schools is 1 in 6 which means that many students will feel like ‘failures’ when they do not get accepted.

Another potential issue is that the 11 Plus test format is very different to formatting of SATs, which are taken less than a year apart. SATs include a combination of multiple-choice questions and written questions whilst the 11 Plus exam focuses solely on multiple choice questions. This shift in questioning technique could be confusing for young students who have prepared heavily for a different test and could cause some anxiety.

Ultimately the choice to register your child for the 11 Plus exam is your choice and your child’s choice. If you choose not to, do not worry because your child will not be disadvantaged in their future. If you do choose to, make sure you start preparing your child for the exam well in advance. Hopefully, this article has helped you to make a more informed decision about whether or not your child should sit the 11 Plus exam.

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