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Gah! I just can't decide whether or not to put DD in for the 11+!

(23 Posts)
AwfulMaureen Wed 05-Feb-14 10:56:17

She's very able in literacy but had to have help in year four for maths...she's now out of that extra help group and seems to be scoring well on class tests.

In September I asked her teacher if she thought DD would be ok for the 11+ and she said "There's no reason why not."

I can't even remember what level she was in maths! I think she was coming up for a 5 in literacy at the end of year 4....she has some holes in her maths ability though...struggles a bit with homework.

Is it worth it? Shall I get her a tutor? I've been offered a share of a lesson once a week from a very good tutor...but it will be hard to get there and cash is not freely available at the moment...I just don't know whether to put her through it all iyswim.

Adikia Wed 05-Feb-14 11:17:05

Does she want to do it?

I'm going with doing some work with DS myself as he really wants to try and his teacher says he should pass fairly easily but I hate the amount of pressure on him, I still remember feeling almost sick with nerves waiting for my 11+ results.

AwfulMaureen Wed 05-Feb-14 11:20:28

Adika she was vaguely interested but now she's just talking about the local comps..discussing her 1st and 2nd choices...she's a young 9 though and hasn't really got much knowledge of what it all entails.

Adikia Wed 05-Feb-14 11:36:39

Damn, makes the decision much easier if they have a strong opinion. could you get some practice papers and see how she gets on? that'd give her some idea what's involved too.

AwfulMaureen Wed 05-Feb-14 11:41:16

I could....I'm just having a bit of a panic about it now....we've got a lot on...I've called the admissions and they told me that I will need to register after Easter...I have also messaged the tutor...hope I'm not to late to bag her though! She texted me last week and offered a spot and I was a bit meh about it then. Speaking to DD last night and she told me she was getting 100% in her maths tests lately made me panic!

trader21c Wed 05-Feb-14 12:41:17

Why not go for it? Then you will both have the choicesmile

sanam2010 Wed 05-Feb-14 12:54:01

Go for it. If cash is an issue, print out lots of past papers and use free online resources for maths.

richmal Wed 05-Feb-14 13:37:18

If she does not go in for the test she will definitely not pass. Will she regret not trying when she gets older?

If she does want to go in for the 11+, firstly find what test she will be sitting, (usually a selection from NVR, NR maths or English)

There is lots of advice on the eleven plus forum.

As for maths, it is a case of the more she practises the better she will get. (Same with NVR and VR). Letts, CGP etc do revision guides and workbooks. I believe the maths papers can cover anything from year 6, but there are quite a few months to plod through it, including holidays.

AwfulMaureen Wed 05-Feb-14 15:10:29

Rich I don't know what NVR and NR is...I did ask the admissions today which tests and they just said "Two verbal reasoning" confused

richmal Wed 05-Feb-14 20:48:47

VR is verbal reasoning, NVR is non verbal reasoning.

I'll try a link to the eleven plus website

There's lots of information on there, including what exams each school sets for the 11+.

Good luck to your dd if she decides to have a go.

AwfulMaureen Wed 05-Feb-14 20:54:44

Oh thanks a lot Richmal seems obvious now you've said it! grin

rainraingoAWAYNEVERCOMEBACK Wed 05-Feb-14 23:16:15

Awful at 9 it hard to comprehend what all these things mean...

is it possible to just tell her she needs extra coaching, and not have the build up if she fails?

rainraingoAWAYNEVERCOMEBACK Wed 05-Feb-14 23:16:37

I think you should let her have a crack at it, but in a relaxed way

marmitecat Wed 05-Feb-14 23:20:28

There is the risk, if you decide not to bother with tuition now, that 3 weeks before the test she'll clock that a bunch of the clever kids in her class are doing it and ask "why aren't I". Your best bet is to put her in but in a low key way, and be genuinely neutral on the issue with her.

MrsMot Wed 05-Feb-14 23:21:17

Tbh my view would be if you get her there with lots of support/coaching how is she going to find everyday lessons?
My older two are at Bucks grammars, they're right for them. I look at #3 and actually I really don't know that he'd be happy in that environment. We're vaguely coaching but if he doesn't get the transfer test we'd be perfectly happy for him to go to an upper school.

AwfulMaureen Thu 06-Feb-14 09:27:21

marmite she's going next week for a session with a lovely woman who was reccomended to me by a friend whose DD did get into our Grammar a couple of years ago. She will go once a week...

MrsMot I don't think she needs coaching as such....because having looked at the sort of papers they do, DD is already very good at that kind of thing....I want her to gain confidence though and to have some guidance re. practicing....her maths I've been told this morning has improved tremendously and all we need to do is to go over the basics regularly to ensure she keeps them in place.

MillyMollyMama Thu 06-Feb-14 10:16:42

AwfulMaureen. Please remember that they key to passing any test to get a place at a selective school is being able to complete the questions, accurately, in the time available. Therefore practice timed tests and do not rely on pure ability alone. There will be lots of children who are working at a similar level to your daughter, but this is in a fairly unpressurised environment and any 11+ exam is far removed from that. She should have a go though, but do prepare with exam technique so she is not disadvantaged.

PastSellByDate Thu 06-Feb-14 10:38:49

Hi Awful Maureen:

DD1 (Y6) sat the 11+ earlier this year here and didn't quite make the grade (we think she'll be 10 points from the cut off). Now here, grammars are state funded, the test is free and frankly you have very little to lose by going for it. I felt it was worth doing because DD1 was keen to do it (I suspect because many of her friends were and she wanted to go on to grammar school with them). My view was definitely NOT: pass the 11+ or else! - but was doing this extra work, reading better quality fiction, etc... was a huge improvement to what her school was doing and would help greatly to get DD1 to where I would notionally expect a reasonably bright primary pupil to be at the end of 7 years.

My first piece of advice is invest in the Bond's Parent's Guide to the 11+ (link: This will explain what the 11+ involves and includes an assessment test that let's you gauge whether you child has a reasonable chance or not. (DD1 was borderline for passing on this - and indeed that seems to be what happened in the end).

You can 'dip your toe' into this whole 11+ thing with Bond 10 minute practice books. See how your child does. If they're freaking out, saying it's way to hard and they're using a book for 8 - 9 year olds when they're nearly 10 - that doesn't bode well. If on the other hand if your 9 year old is sailing through books for 10 - 11 year olds - they really should go for it.

In reality - the issue with maths is sound calculation skills sure - but primarily good comprehension. Most of the 'tricky' problems are about understanding what the question is asking and answering it appropriately (so getting a paragraph with information about the number of toys different children might have and then being asked to work out what a new child has in relation to this data: i.e. Sally has 8 more bears than Sam, Sam has 4 more bears than Tony and Tony has 5 bears. How many bears does Sam have? You may have lengths in Km and m but they want the answer in cm or prices in pence and in pounds and they want the answer in £ - so knowing how to convert that).

Finally - you know your area. What are the alternatives. Here the comprehensives are uniformly dire - around 40% attaining 5 A-C GCSEs and one secondary in special measures. If you're facing that - you do have to consider the impact being educated in such a poorly performing environment is going to have on your child. Sure it can be poorly performing for all sorts of reasons, other than poor quality of teaching, but nonetheless on the face of it the odds looked stacked against your DD getting 5 As at GCSE. (1% of pupils at our local comprehensive).

Genuinely - go to an open day - let your DD see what they have to offer at both the grammar and the comprehensive. Start simple - insist of good quality fiction (e.g. - which certainly won't hurt and if you use school/ public library won't cost much. Have your DD read to you - ask her what she thinks more challenging words mean (my DD1 often fudged this - so it was a real eye opener to the fact she was skipping difficult words in her reading - and too lazy to look them up). But also discuss the books. How the other uses certain 'tricks' of writing to make it more interesting, how characters feel, etc... Again - all low budget - and certainly good for preparing for 11+ - but generally good no matter what.

With maths - look into things like Kahn Academy - which has now set up US curriculum & is entirely free. US grades are -1 year behind UK Years - so US Grade 5 = Year 6. link here: - click learn on black menu bar, then math, then click the grade number 1 more than your DC's year.

Encourage maths video games/ apps - there's tons out there - to improve speed of calculation skills.

There are tons of on-line maths tutorials - many cheaper than a tutor: mathsfactor, maths whizz, mathletics & komodo maths have all been praised here.

Going for the 11+ can be seen as a snobby choice - but in reality it's an academic one where you're consciously choosing to aim high and to send your child to a school where it's likely they'll be working at a fast pace and pushing your child to perform. In effect your choosing a school which is designed to prepare your child for entrance to a Russell Group type University degree programme. This isn't for everybody, it does require children who can persevere & who aren't afraid of hard work - but the reasons grammar's are popular is that they do get some rather exceptional results with the pupils they teach.


PastSellByDate Thu 06-Feb-14 10:43:13

Awful Maureen:

NVR = Non-verbal reasoning - so pictures of different shapes often shaded slightly differently in a pattern and you have to predict what the next shape would look like

VR - Verbal reasoning - so understanding vocabulary - being able to guess what a word is when only a few letters are present by the context of a sentence: Sam walked s_e__ down the corridor so as not to wake his angry father (silently) - this is called CLOZE. But understanding synonyms and antonyms, being able to understand a wide range of vocabulary.

again bond 10 minute books will have practice for this.

to find out more about what you need to do for your area start here: - they have a forum which has regional boards - so find your area and then look at what people suggest you need to do. They always have a 'sticky' about the contents of past tests - to help give you an idea of the range & type of things your child would be expected to deal with.


Teddingtonmum1 Thu 06-Feb-14 11:32:36

Just to give a bit of hope , I tutored my son for 3 months and he passed for an Indy and has an offer ds is reasonably bright but not a genius makes a lot of silly mistakes but at L5 stats hoping to sit L6 maths but it was tough as he had never done VR / non VR but if they are good at maths apparently its easier.

Didn't have £40 ph for a tutor used bond / GL assessment and the first past the post I pad apps.

Think its more practice and technique and repetition than knowledge but its a killer as I work full time but we were doing 90 mins a day split in 30 mins before school and an hour after school just to get up to speed so we filled the gaps as some kids have been studying for 12-18 months beforehand.
Also check what exams your target school does went into an VR non VR exam for Wandsworth test and there was a parent who asked me was it just maths & English being sat they nearly had a cardiac when i enlighten them.

AwfulMaureen Thu 06-Feb-14 15:40:49

Thank you all so much. Your advice is so welcome...Past thank you for all that info I will definitely get the book you mentioned and am looking at papers this weekend.

8teddington* I don't quite get the comment about the mum in Wandsworth....did she not realise what the 11+ entails.?

lalasmum17 Thu 06-Feb-14 16:52:06

We've just done 7+ (a lot easier, I know) and passed. I got hold of the Bond Papers for her age and I think we did a couple of test papers for each subject plus a couple of school entrance ones we found online. I think the question styles are/were very different to what she gets at school so, with a bit of help with paper 1 she tackled other questions with far less "eh?….I don't understand!…I can't do it!".

I also liked the Doodlemaths app (that goes up to 11, but teaches and tests your child in bite-size chunks).

For me it wasn't such a deal-breaker if we didn't pass the exam. I was very keen not to have tutored her so that she'd pass the test but then find she was miserable in class because the other kids were brighter.

Yes, we passed

AwfulMaureen Thu 06-Feb-14 17:02:21

It's not such a massive deal to me either lala as we have good secondary schools here.....I just want her to have the choice and the chance.

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