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When to Start Tutoring For The 11+

When to Start Tutoring For The 11+

If your child is hoping to get into a grammar or selective independent school, there’s likely just one thing standing in their way: the 11 Plus – or 11+ – exams. Luckily, tutoring can help your child to prepare and win a spot at their top-choice school. But when should you start tutoring for the 11+?

Here’s all you need to know.

When to start tutoring for the 11+

As a rough guide, you should aim to start tutoring for the 11+ at least a year before the exam.

Most children take the exam in Year 6 of primary school. So, it's usually recommended to start tutoring from Year 4, and no later than the beginning of Year 5.

However, it’s never too early to start preparing for the 11+ and ultimately, the longer you leave it the better.

Why?

Well, the 11+ exams are extensive and designed to be challenging. Your child will need to become familiar with a whole new exam format, new topics and ways of thinking. And many schools won’t do much – if anything – to prepare your child for these exams.

With that in mind, starting tuition early is the best way to ensure your child is fully prepared and confident by the time the exams roll around.

“Definitely start early - I recommend 12 months which gives plenty of time for missing weeks re. holidays, illness etc.

“Just because the student may be good at English and Maths at school doesn’t mean they will find the exam easy. The questions can be written in a particular way that can take practice to understand.”

- Lynne H, experienced 11+ and entrance exam tutor

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When to start 11 Plus tuition: key considerations

Although we can give you a rough guide for when to start tutoring for the 11+, it’s important to remember that every child is different. So, there’s no ‘one size fits all.’

An 11+ tutor will be able to assess your child and give you guidance on how much tutoring they’ll need before the exam. However, here are a few factors to consider if you’re still umming and ahhing about when to start.

Competition in your area

Some areas of the UK are more competitive than others, especially where there is a high population and fewer grammar schools. For instance, in some areas of London, there are more than 30 pupils competing for one place. If you live in one of these areas, your child may need more tuition to stand out from the other pupils taking the exams.

Confidence

11 Plus tuition isn’t just about giving your child the knowledge and skills needed to succeed. The right tutor will also act as a mentor and cheerleader for your child, helping to build their confidence so that they can feel positive and motivated heading into that exam room. 

Your child’s ability

The 11 Plus exams are designed to identify children who are performing at the top of their age group. But some children need to work harder than others to achieve those results. A tutor will help to familiarise your child with the kinds of questions they could encounter, and give them the practice needed to make sure they’re capable of performing to the best of their ability.

Known subject weaknesses

As well as verbal and non-verbal reasoning, the 11 Plus covers curriculum topics such as English and maths. If your child has a known weakness in one of these subjects, it could be worth getting the help of a subject tutor from as early as Year 3, to give your child a headstart.

Consistency

Consistent tutoring is arguably even more important than starting early. One to two hours per week will give your child the consistency they need to get familiar with new concepts, practise them and improve.

11 Plus preparation

Many families will do some 11 Plus preparation independently at home, alongside 11 Plus tuition. How extensively you prepare independently may affect how much tuition your child needs. But it’s always useful to get a tutor onboard to fill any gaps where you may struggle to support your child – whether that’s non-verbal reasoning or marking those practice papers!

Last-minute changes

Bear in mind that schools might make changes to the exam board they use without giving more than a year’s notice. So, although it’s never too early to start 11 Plus tutoring, be sure to review your 11 Plus preparation from time to time – especially if you decide to start more than a year in advance.

Girl starting 11 Plus tuition

What age to start 11 Plus tutoring

Most children start 11 Plus tutoring in September or January of Year 5. This ensures that they have plenty of time to get familiar with the format before the exams, which are usually sat in Year 6.

With that in mind, most children are between 9 and 10 years old when they start tutoring for the 11+.

That said, starting even earlier can give your child a real advantage in the 11 Plus exams – especially if you live in a competitive area or your child has known weaknesses in aspects of the core curriculum, such as English or maths.

Hiring a tutor in Year 3 or 4 might seem early. However, children who start at this age are able to spend the extra time gaining a solid understanding of the core curriculum. 

This will give them a strong foundation so that, as they move into Year 5, they can start to focus on exam technique and more targeted 11 Plus prep such as verbal and non-verbal reasoning skills and time management.

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Can a child pass 11 plus without tutoring?

Some children find that they’re able to pass the 11 Plus without tutoring – especially if they live in a less competitive area.

That said, hiring a tutor will give your child the best possible chance of passing the 11 Plus.

A tutor will help your child to:

  • Understand and practise specialist skills, such as verbal and non-verbal reasoning

  • Cover the topics in Key Stage 2 in greater depth for the exams

  • Build confidence and resilience under pressure

  • Practise the exact questions, formats and skills required for the exam

  • Stay motivated and focused on learning

  • Understand their strengths and weaknesses and tailor their learning plan accordingly

  • Take regular mock tests

  • Learn the specific test strategies that will help them stand out

  • Access the right resources to support them when they’re not being tutored

Although there will be things you can do yourself to prepare your child for the 11 Plus, you likely have some areas of weakness where you may struggle to support your child. For instance, many parents find non-verbal reasoning difficult, as well as marking the verbal reasoning tests.

On the other hand, an 11 Plus tutor is a dedicated professional who has experience getting pupils into their top-choice schools and will use proven methods to make sure your child is fully prepared for the exams.

“I’ve been tutoring 11+ students for 7 years now, and every student I’ve worked with has achieved an offer from their chosen school/s.

“I work with your child on their strengths and their weaknesses using a variety of past papers, self-made materials, quizzes, and games.

“When you choose the right 11+ tutor, your child will benefit from a mentor as much as an educator.”

- Rachel B, qualified tutor and examiner

Have I left it too late to start 11+ tutoring?

If your child’s 11 Plus exams are creeping up, you might be worried that you’ve left it too late to start 11+ tutoring.

But don’t panic. It’s better to start late than never!

A tutor will be able to assess your child to identify areas for improvement. They’ll then be able to create a tailored learning plan for your child that prioritises areas your child needs to work on, to have the biggest impact possible before the exams roll around.

Remember, although the best time to start 11 Plus tuition is early, the second best time is now! 

Girl starting 11+ tutoring

Start tutoring for the 11+

Whether you have a child who is approaching Year 5, you’re keen to get an early start or you’re hoping to get some last-minute help, we can help you find a tutor your child will click with.

From week-by-week plans, to practice exams, our handpicked tutors will support your child every step of the way, with a personalised teaching plan to help them get into the school they want.

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FAQs

When should I start 11 plus tutoring?

It’s best to start 11 Plus tutoring at least a year before the exam – so, at the beginning of Year 5 at the latest.

When to start 11 Plus preparation?

It’s never too early to start 11 Plus preparation. 

However, a good approach is to start helping your child to build the skills needed for the 11 Plus before the start of Year 4, by encouraging them to read lots and strengthen their core basics.

They can then move onto more formal 11 Plus preparation from Year 4 or at the latest, the beginning of Year 5.

What age should you start tutoring for 11+?

Most children start tutoring for the 11+ in September or January of Year 5, making them 9 to 10 years old.

How to tutor your child for the 11 Plus?

You can help to tutor your child for the 11 Plus by going through the syllabus strategically with them; building their skills through reading, discussion and games; and giving them regular practice papers to get them used to answering questions in exam conditions.

However, there’s no replacement for professional 11 Plus tuition.

An experienced 11 Plus tutor will be able to create a tailored learning plan that takes into account their strengths, weaknesses and learning style to help them pass.

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Imogen Beech

Imogen Beech

18th Jun 2024