# Why you should start 11+ work in Year 4

To many parents in Buckinghamshire, the grammar school system represents the best chance of a great education for their children. Indeed, some even move to the county to take advantage of the few remaining areas that continue with the grammar school system.

Whilst there is much debate about whether the test should be tutored for (because it disadvantages lower income families), the fact is that the test is not tutor-proof. The other fact is that schools are not allowed to teach the 11+ directly. That leaves a yawning gap that needs to be filled.

The Transfer Test, otherwise known as the 11+ test, takes place early in September for the incoming Year 6. That means that much of Year 5 is spent preparing for the test.

However, a lot of parents choose to start tuition even earlier than that, in year 4, and here’s why.

**Why start tuition in year 4? **

Eighty per cent of the 11+ is supposed to be based on the national curriculum, in other words, taught at school. However, this doesn’t allow for those that fail to grasp certain topics comprehensively and the 20% of the test that isn’t part of the curriculum.

The Year 5 11+ revision is spent honing in on the three aspects of the test: Verbal reasoning, Non-verbal reasoning and Maths.

Year 4 is a great time to start laying the *foundations* for this work. These are the areas that we cover in Year 4.

**The importance of spelling and vocabulary.**

50% of the 11+ test in Bucks is made up of what they call Verbal Reasoning. It’s crucial to get spelling, vocabulary – including synonyms and antonyms – and comprehension skills well under way.

We spend a lot of time in 11+ tuition learning new words and frankly, there is no end to the amount of words a child can add to their vocabulary. Therefore, the earlier they start, the better! Comprehension practice, understanding the meanings of different words in different contexts, all of this can begin to be built up gently from Year 4.

**The importance of maths**

There are two other parts to the test, “non-verbal reasoning” and maths.

Non-verbal reasoning takes up around 20% of the test. Here examiners are looking at a child’s ability to pick up patterns and codes. What they want the children to do is to show that they can solve problems.

Skills such as maths, spatial awareness and the ability to spot patterns is crucial to these types of questions. While some children have a natural ability in this area, others need to be taught how to do it.

In addition, plugging any gaps in maths is very helpful – it allows them hit the Year 5 11+ tuition running.

Maths is 30% of the exam. First thing’s first, times tables are key. If a child knows the answer to a times table they can work out the answer to a maths problem that much more quickly. The 11+ test is very much about answering accurately – at speed!

Maths, in common with Verbal Reasoning, is a skill that can be built up gradually. It is not just about numbers. Shapes, time, angles and even coordinates come under the Maths umbrella. Then there are measures, fractions and place value.

Above all, tuition helps a child’s confidence in their ability. The more confident they are when they start 11+ tuition in Year 5, the better they will do!

Please contact me on 01494 773300 or email penny@penandinktuition.co.uk to discuss your child’s particular needs.