7+, 11+ and 13+ tutoring in London and online
Whatever school entrance exams your child will be sitting, we can help find the perfect tutor to help.
Toby — our featured 7+, 11+ and 13+ tutor in London
Toby graduated from Oxford in 2012 with a degree in English Language and Literature. He then completed a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at New York University.
Toby has over 1000 hours' tutoring experience in English and Maths, which includes a lot of teaching for 11+ and 13+ exams.
He has also taught English Language and English Literature in schools.
Breaking down the 7+, 11+ and 13+
What is the 11+?
As the name suggests, 11+ is not really a subject but rather the age at which you sit a particular set of exams. “11+” refers to exams taken in Year 6 for entry into secondary school starting in Year 7. Some schools also offer entry into Year 9 (for which you take the 13+) and others into Year 3 (for which you take the 7+). Those other entry points will be addressed in more detail lower down.
Common Entrance vs. In-house Exams
Some schools require applicants to sit standardised nationwide tests known as Common Entrance Exams as part of the admission process. The Common Entrance Exams are administered by ISEB (Independent Schools Examination Board), whose website is informative and well worth checking out. Check out the ISEB website for detailed information about the different Common Entrance syllabuses, exam dates, and FAQs.
Other schools set their own specially designed exams. Although these will vary from school to school, the format of exams is often similar to Common Entrance. Information about whether the schools have their own exams or use the Common Entrance should be available on the websites of the schools in question.
What are the different parts?
Students who sit the 11+ Common Entrance are required to take papers in English, Mathematics and Science. Schools that do not use the Common Entrance will have their own procedure but are very likely to set English and Mathematics papers that resemble the Common Entrance. Some schools also make use of Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning papers, although these are less common.
What are the different papers actually like?
The Common Entrance English Exam (and most other 11+ English Exams) consist of two discrete papers. For the Common Entrance, you are given 45 minutes for each paper, so the whole exam is 1.5 hours. The first paper is a Reading Comprehension. In this section, candidates must read through an excerpt of prose, normally between one and two pages in length, and answer a series of questions about it. The questions range in difficulty. At the simpler end, candidates are asked to find factual information in the passage, and at the more difficult end they have to write analytically about how the writer achieves his or her effects. Candidates are being tested on their ability to understand and respond intelligently to a written text.
The second paper consists of a Writing Task. There are usually a few options for candidates to choose between, which might include story writing and non-fiction writing. Common tasks include continuing stories that are begun in the Reading Comprehension, describing an imagined setting, and responding to a visual stimulus such as a painting. Students are tested on the accuracy of their written expression, including grammar and spelling, as well as their creativity and mastery of different forms.
The Common Entrance Mathematics paper is 60 minutes long. It is designed to test students on the material that they are required to have studied as part of the Key Stage 2 National Curriculum – in other words, there is no special content that they need to learn for the exam. Once again, schools that set their own exams often follow a similar format, but it is worth looking on their websites for more information. Like the English Reading Comprehension, the questions get progressively harder as the exam goes on. The early questions often involve multiple choice answers and simple calculations, while the later ones tend to make candidates think on their feet to solve problems that they may not have seen before.
As with the English and Mathematics, the Common Entrance Science paper does not test anything outside the scope of the National Curriculum. The paper lasts 60 minutes and is made up of different types of question, ranging from multiple choice answers, to written answers, to mathematical calculations and graph drawing.
Verbal Reasoning tests candidates’ ability to think logically about language and patterns. The tests differ from English Papers in that the students are not required to respond to stories or poems, but instead are solving language puzzles. In this way, Verbal Reasoning papers are almost more like Mathematics papers. The best way to get a sense of what these tests are really like is simply to look at some example papers, which can be purchased online and in bookshops. There are sometimes tests that are visible for free online, but these can be difficult to find!
These tests are similar to Verbal Reasoning tests, except they use pictures and abstract patterns rather than words to construct puzzles. Like IQ tests, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning papers do not test knowledge, but cognitive skills. For this reason, there is no specific syllabus that needs to be learned prior to taking the tests.
How to Prepare
Careful readers will have noticed that in many of the above sections it mentions that there is no special knowledge required for 11+ entry exams. This is deliberate — the schools don’t want anyone to have an advantage over anyone else based on what they happen to have been taught in their particular primary school.
So how do you help your child prepare for a set of exams where there is little or nothing to revise in advance? The answer is simple: practice. The most useful thing for students preparing for schools entrance is to be taught what the papers look like, so that they feel confident and comfortable on the day, and to practise working through them. For all the different areas, good exam technique can boost marks, as can a familiarity with the format and design of the different papers.
13+ / 7+
In many ways, 13+ Exams are very similar to 11+, only a little harder! One key difference is that along with the core subjects (English, Mathematics and Science) students can take examinations on a range of chosen subjects, including various modern and ancient languages and fields of the humanities. At some schools there is also the option for candidates to sit Common Academic Scholarship Examinations in the following subjects: English, Mathematics, Science, History, Religious Studies Geography, French and Latin.
Unlike 11+ and 13+, there is no 7+ Common Entrance Exam. If schools admit students into Year 3, they will set their own specially designed exams. There is likely to be an English Paper and Maths Paper.
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