The first thing one should say about entry exams, from a parent's perspective, is don't panic! It may sound daunting to try and help your child achieve exam success but it really isn't as bad as it sounds.
Why Are Entry Exams Necessary?
If you are sending your child to a mainstream secondary school then as a general rule an entry exam is not required. As long as you follow the general guidelines, as suggested by us, for obtaining a place at a secondary school - and also having a list of alternative choices - the process should go smoothly.
However it's normally when you wish your child to be educated at grammar school level that an entry exam becomes necessary. This entry exam is referred to as the 11+.
The 11+ Exam
The 11+ examination is used by those local education authorities who have grammar schools within their catchment areas, as a means of selection. The results of these examinations are used by the LEA to determine who will be offered places at their chosen grammar schools, should the places be available.
It is worth noting at this point that although your child may score highly on this exam, they are not necessarily guaranteed a place at their chosen school, and this is simply because the number of places that are available may well be outweighed by the number of applicants.The exam itself normally covers four main areas
Verbal Reasoning - problem solving questions with numbers and words
Non-Verbal Reasoning - reasoning with shapes and patterns
This said, it is not guaranteed that all of these will appear within the examination itself, this is at the discretion of the LEA. As a result of time-tabling issues, logistics and budget restrictions, pupils will normally take two or three tests with at least one practice test in most LEA's.
Helping Your Child Achieve
The first thing to remember about these exams is that they are a measure of your child's ability to understand, remember and use the information before them to its best effect. In this way the 11+ is a valuable benchmark when it comes to making decisions as to which children are accepted for a particular school.
With this in mind, it is a good idea to set aside a set amount of time each day to spend with your child, going through what might be required of them in the examination. There are websites operated by LEAs, which allow you to download practice papers from previous years but which will include the style of questioning that is likely to appear in the forthcoming examination.
If you can print these examination papers off then try to go through them with your child in a manner that will make the process fun and evocative and not as much of a chore as sometimes homework can be.
For those people with the finances at their disposal to do so, a private tutor could be incorporated to help your child, and they will also give you some advice as to how to best help your child in their absence. But for the most part, as we know, it is not always possible to be able to pay for outside help. So with this in mind it is important that you and your child understand what may be required of them.
Speak to their current teachers, or head teacher, and ask about how the LEA makes their decisions regarding the exam results. Also, ask them how the curriculum your child is currently undertaking affects the 11+ examination.
It is also important to remember that coaching and practicing are two separate entities. Coaching is simply showing your child the best way to answer the questions on the paper, while practising, although perhaps sounding as though it is the same thing, is actually answering the questions and giving the best and most concise answer.
Don't Overload Your Child
It is also worth remembering the law of diminishing returns. The longer and harder you coach, and have your child practice, the less they will take onboard. Set out a number of scheduled practice sessions with your child lasting a set period of time and try to stay within this regime.
It has to be interesting and fun for your child, otherwise you will find their attention span will diminish considerably. This also has a knock on effect during the examination, because your child will see this as just another boring exercise, and may not apply themselves fully.
In conclusion, keep it fun, keep it informal and keep it to the point. Engage your child's mind and let them see that you are as much interested in them as you are in their ability to answer the questions and most importantly - don't set your goals too high.
My daughteris currently 11years and seven month old. My child is in a school in milton keynes. She very advanced so much, she is 3years above her age at school. I feel that he would benefit from a private education. Unfortunately I am a single mother which means I will not be able to pay her fees. I am very interested in applying for a scholarship and also bursaries. I have looked into the requirements and testing and feel he would pass. Please could you advise me on how and where to contact. Please help!Many thanks
Owo - 14-Jul-16 @ 12:09 PM
My son is currently six years old. My son is in a school in Bedford. He is very advanced for his age. So much so he is in the year above his age at school. I feel that he would benefit from a private education. Unfortunately I do not have the finances to be able to pay for him to go to private school. I am very interested in applying for a scholarship and also bursaries. I have looked into the requirements and testing and feel he would pass.
Please could you advise me on how and where to contact.
I look forward to a speedy response.
Cat - 6-Jul-16 @ 4:06 PM
@Azza - You don't say where you are from, but as her parent, unless you are in the EU, you would have to go through the visa process first and apply to live in the UK, in order to be considered for a school place. Even then, it is a very competitive field and your daughter would have to be exceptionally clever in order to gain a place.
Nina - 1-Jun-15 @ 2:12 PM
My daughter is 15 years old, I was searching for a scholarship in the uk for her but all I always find is collage scholarships and I want a high school scholarships.
My daughter loves art and fine arts she's also very good in English. She loves drawing and reading, She knows some German and she writes poems sometimes. She's always dreamed to study in the UK and I just wanted a chance to make her dream come true. Any help from you will be really appreciated. Thank you for your time.
Azza - 28-May-15 @ 12:16 PM
Hello my son is 10 yeas old and I have been looking at schools but not really done anything like the next step of visiting on open days so my son and I can get a feel of the schools out there. My son Romario is on the gifted and talented group at school in all his subjects and sports, he loves maths and reading is ahead a year or more in all his subjects, he is doing year 6 work and probably could go further but he enjoys helping his teacher and the other children in his class but I really want him to get a scholarship in a grammar school so I am already anxious.I have spoken to his teacher who said I have nothing to worry about and that I can leave everything till next year when he is year 6 but I feel that I need to act now so we can give him the best chance at going to the best schools. I know he is a yea ahead not sure if I should get him assessed and see if he needs more support. I will be getting him the sats exam books to look at and hopefully download exam papers but not sure if they all have different ones. I just feel I am not going about things the right way I will be seeing Romario teacher on Monday for parents meeting so maybe seeing her will help or i will talk to the headmistress, but I just have a feeling that he has been an asset to the school and they have held onto that fact where I know if I got him tested by mensa or asked Tower Hamlets to get him tested he would be out of the school but he is a very sensitive child and I worry he isn't emotionally equipped to cope with things like this I know this because he will not go into the class a yea above him so does the work in his class instead.
NIcknick - 17-Jan-15 @ 5:42 PM
Hi my Grand daughter (Georgina) is attending a Privat school in the UK since September 2015. Her bilogical father would not like her to goto school. She called me and left a very terrible message on my answering machine since I was not at home. Itherefore assumed the parental responsibility of her and have sent her to the UK since September.
I have used all my savings to get her to this school.The second year starts in July 2015. I really do not know where to get the next school fees from. I have been spending sleepless nights since the time to pay the next fees gets closer. I would be much happier and relaxed, if you can offer Georgina a scholarship for the next year. It is Georginas desire to study medicine to help in Africa to eliviate the poor health situation. I am retired and I do not have enough money to cater for her school fees. Any assistance from your side will be much appreciated.