When to start your child’s 11 plus tuition?

Welcome to our feature, when to start your child’s 11 plus tuition?

When to start revising for the 11+

Most parents start 11+ tuition from Year 4 or Year 5. Initially, a specialist 11+ tutor will assess the child’s current levels before then going on to ensure a rich and rigorous foundation across all core skills. Then go on to prepare pupils for the actual 11+ exam demands. As well as building confidence and exam techniques.

When to start your 11+ Tuition

  • The best time to start preparing your child for the 11+ depends entirely on their current attainment levels and experience.
  • Your son or daughter may only need a few weeks or months of preparation as the 11+ exam approaches, focusing on practising exam papers and developing the exam technique and confidence.
  • Most children benefit from several months of support, often regular weekly tuition, building rigour and polish across core skills, being fully stretched and challenged academically and then shaping their performance towards the demands of the exam.
  • Any support or tuition focused on preparing for the 11+ exam also brings a significant and broader benefit to your child’s in terms of their general school work and confidence.


Do we need a tutor for the 11+ exam?

  • Some parents will choose to prepare their child using resources available.
  • For example, the series of Bond 11+ books or GL and CEM past papers.
  • Other parents will choose to send their child to 11+ group tuition with classes outside of school.


Gauge your child’s abilities

  • Primarily you need to know fro the outset of your 11 plus preparation, how likely your child is to pass their 11 plus.
  • Then, assuming all is well, you need to identify specific learning needs.
  • The 11-plus tests many skills: reading comprehension, composition, and basic analytical mathematics, among others.
  • Many children are coached one – if not two – years in advance of sitting their 11 plus exam.
  • It is perfectly natural that some children will take to some areas with more confidence and ability than others.
  • Your child may be great at reading and writing, but he or she may have a hard time with maths.
  • Conversely, he or she may be good at maths but may need to polish up their literacy skills.


Start your 11+ preparation at the right time

When is the ‘right time’ to start preparation? This is a pretty loaded question. Again, it really depends on the individual child.
For some it’s best to get started in the summer between year 4 and 5, giving you a solid year and a half to prepare.

Others may choose to start much later in the academic year. Still, other children will have sat 7+ tests to join middle schools, so will be better attuned to this type of testing and may need far less preparation still.

Ultimately, it’s a judgement call between starting early enough to get your child the preparation they need, without starting so early as to risk losing momentum further down the line.

The right 11-plus resources alongside an experienced tutor may be able to reduce this period, or simply increase the value of the time spent on preparation.

The 11-plus for grammar school entrance takes place nationwide in October each year, while private school entrance exams are usually in January. Whenever you choose to start preparation, it’s important to keep this timeline in mind.

If you plan to hire a tutor, be aware that their availability will drop off rapidly as the exam date approaches. Timing your prep correctly will keep the pressure off of your child and make the exam experience far more enjoyable.


Generally speaking, we advise no more than 12 months of tuition for the Eleven Plus. So, starting at the beginning of Year 5 is probably a good time. At the very latest January of year 5 for exams taking place in September of year 6.


Percentage Pass mark for 11 Plus. Happy children faces.
  • In addition, different schools within the same LEA may have different minimum pass marks.
  • Also, 11 plus pass marks are standardised using a complex statistical process.
  • Put simply, this means a child’s score is adjusted to reflect their age and the difficulty of the paper. Standardisation ensures fairness because older children would otherwise have an advantage.
  • Some grammar schools select candidates by ranked order. Places are given to the children who performed best on the test.
  • Other schools have a minimum pass mark and use other criteria, such as distance, faith, siblings, to select candidates. In conclusion, it is impossible to say exactly what percentage you need to pass the 11-plus.
  • However, as an approximate figure, a child will need to score about 80—85% to pass. Obviously, in more competitive areas this figure may be higher.


What 11 plus score will my child need to get into a local Grammar School?

For the schools that publish the standardised test score requirement, children normally need to score more than 110 in all their papers. Other schools do not have fixed standardised thresholds, instead ranking the students by their test scores and accepting as many of the top students for which they have places. A score of 80-85% in mock exam papers is a good starting point that should set your child up for success when applying to competitive grammar schools (provided they continue to study and improve!).


Private schools pros and cons (compared to grammar schools)

Breadth of opportunity is what comes to mind when summing up what a good independent school offers. While applicants must pass the entrance examination as part of the selection process, the current headteacher’s report and the interview also carry significant weight, particularly if the child offers talents beyond the classroom.

In academic terms, independent schools provide a very high quality of education and may offer subjects that grammar schools are unable to.

If your child is creatively minded, therefore, or would relish being able to branch away from the more academic subjects, independent schools can usually provide for most leanings.

Independent schools also place great emphasis on providing a wide range of extra-curricular opportunities, regularly excelling in certain fields including sport, music, and performing arts. Continual investment in the infrastructure often results in state-of the art facilities to allow for this excellence becoming almost the norm across many schools within the sector.

Binding this breadth of opportunity together are the strong cultures that independent schools can foster. Many parents value independent schools for their sense of community and the life skills they can inculcate in each student. This, together with a strong moral compass, provide the magnet that many parents find irresistible to ignore, despite the significant financial burden an independent school is likely to entail. However, generous fees remission can be found in scholarship awards and bursaries for those sufficiently talented in a particular field, or for those whose financial means would otherwise put independent schools beyond their reach.