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How to Help Your Child Prepare for the 11 Plus: A Practical Guide

The 11 plus can be a daunting and overwhelming prospect for many parents and children, but it doesn’t have to be a scary as it first seems. Many teachers often refer to the 11 plus as an adventure in an effort to alleviate the stress many students find themselves feeling as the test draws ever closer. While that term can help in some ways, having the proper support system in place when they begin the 11+ journey is far more beneficial than finding a way for the test to sound less frightening. 

Throughout our practical guide, we’ll help you navigate the 11 plus world with advice and top tips so that you can better prepare your child for the upcoming examination that will help decide which is the best secondary school to suit your child.


Many parents make the mistake of starting the 11 plus preparations too early by beginning when their child enters Year 1. However, this will only cause your child stress and won’t give them any extra advantage for the 11+; in fact, it is more likely to cause them to develop a hatred for school work which could lead to less participation and lower results. Year 5 is a much better time to begin the preparations for the 11 plus as twelve months is more than enough time for your child to have all the tools they need when they sit the exam. A perfect way to help them during the preparations is to use 11 plus online learning; this will help them to understand where they need improvement as well as making it far less scary when they sit the real thing.


Whether your child is a natural at schoolwork or struggles to engage, tutoring is a fantastic tool to prepare your child for the 11 plus properly. Popular tutors often get booked up well in advance; if you want to secure a good tutor for your child, speak to the company providing the tutors so that your child has a tutor ready for when they need one. Finding the right tutor that works to your child’s schedule and abilities is vital; many people often start with searching their local areas by inputting search parameters online such as ’11 plus Sutton’. However, you can also find excellent services both in-person and online with

Keep the lines of communication open when you hire a tutor; if your child is feeling anxious or is struggling with the work, speak to your tutor as they will be able to adjust their lesson plans accordingly and advise you on how to help from home. Experienced tutors know what your child needs to pass the exam, and you should receive regular updates on their progress through the preparation period. The learning process shouldn’t be a chore for your child, and the best tutors can help them have fun while learning; this can also contribute to better retention of knowledge. 

Whether you opt for online or in-person tutoring, to get the most out of the tutoring, you need to make sure that your child is spending enough time with their tutor. It is recommended that your child begins tutoring when the preparations for the 11 plus begins, which would be one year before they sit the exam. At least one session per week should be plenty for your child, but if they are struggling with comprehending the work, adding a second session a week should be enough to help them catch up without causing undue stress from overworking them. 

Boy in classroom
Photo by Kuanish Reymbaev on Unsplash


While beginning, the 11+ preparation too soon can be counterproductive; it is never too early to foster a love for reading in your child. Encourage them to devour as many fiction and non-fiction books as possible, but be careful not to force them. Having a love for reading will be enough to give them a better chance of finding the preparation for the 11+ less daunting as vocabulary plays a large part in the test, and reading is the best way to learn new words organically. If your child is a reluctant reader, visit your local library or book shop and ask for tips on genres or topics that they may find more enjoyable. Some children have niche interests that you may not have discovered yet; finding what suits them will be the best way to develop a love for reading.


When we talk about schedules for the 11 plus preparations and work, we don’t want you to be rigid with how you plan your child’s time. It is better to work with your child and agree on time slots together at the beginning of each week; this gives your child control of the situation, so they don’t feel stifled or pressured by the preparations. Regular communication and sessions each week will help to keep the routine in place without anyone feeling grumpy, overworked, or stressed out. 


You may be lucky and find that your child breezes through the preparations for the 11+ and the exam itself, but most parents experience some meltdowns from their children due to the stress. Don’t worry if you experience these meltdowns; they are entirely normal and to be expected as it is a stressful time where your child experiences a higher workload than usual. The best course of action for when this happens is to ensure all regular schoolwork is completed before putting the 11 plus work to one side and giving your child a fun day to relax with plenty of encouragement and hugs.


Kids having fun
Image by Christo Anestev from Pixabay

The most important part of preparing your child for the 11 plus is to make time for fun and to keep life as normal as possible. It can be easy to allow the 11+ preparations to consume your household, especially as the exam date draws ever closer, but it is vital that you don’t overwork your child. Piling on the work will only stress out your child and make the whole experience painful for everyone involved; remember to include fun days and milestone rewards so that they have things to look forward to during this daunting time.

Featured Photo by Julia M Cameron : Pexels