Parents all come to Pen and Ink Tuition for the same reason – they want their child to have the best chance of passing the 11+ test.
For the uninitiated, this is the so-called Transfer Test that helps to decide whether a child can go to grammar school or not. There are two papers, each around 45 minutes’ long.
They are supposed to be tutor-proof, but research has shown that this simply isn’t the case.
So tutoring is, rightly or wrongly, one of the best ways to help children have the best chance of passing.
But that’s just the beginning.
Perhaps one of the questions I get asked the most by parents is: What do we need to do now to have the best chance of passing?
Being clever is one thing, but not everything
How do you decide if your child is right for grammar school? Clearly, if they are already in top sets at school then that’s a good start, but even then, it all depends on what levels other children in the school are at. The top set in one school may not equal the top set in another.
It’s also well worth speaking to teachers around the end of year 4 or early in year 5. They will have a pretty good idea of whether your child could pass the exam by then. In addition, good tutors offer free assessments.
Even if your child is top of the class, there are not many very clever ones who will sail straight through the exam without even trying. It requires hard work.
But hard work isn’t everything either
But hard work alone won’t be enough to pass the test. Whilst its true that the more vocabulary a child can learn, the better they are at times tables and other maths basics, the quicker they will be able to answer questions, this alone will not be enough to see them through.
Attitude also plays a huge part. When children get to grammar school they will be expected to be self-motivated and self-starters. In secondary schools in general children are expected to take much more responsibility for themselves. In grammars the academic demands will be even more rigorous than what they have thus far been used to. Your child has to want to be in that kind of environment.
It’s the same with the test. Children have to have a certain determination to want to pass and be prepared to put in the necessary time to do so. Some are only doing it because they are being told to, and they will have less of a chance of passing.
Practice, practice, practice
Practising does always improve their chances. No time learning vocabulary, or practising papers, will ever be wasted. The trick is to find a balance between that and other schoolwork and extra curricular activity.
It’s a team effort
The best combination is a child’s determination to succeed, and parental support helping them to work.
A year spent preparing is much better than a solid month of cramming, at least for most children. That’s because it takes time to build up the vocabulary and maths knowledge needed. That said, I offer courses in August as both refreshers for, and preparation for, the looming test in September.
Starting early also pays dividends. I was delighted when one child, who came to me with weak maths skills, went on to pass the 11+ two years later. Their sheer determination and perseverance paid off.