Your child will be expected to have a good knowledge in all the topics within KS2, despite being only a third of the way through Year 6 by the time the 11+ exams are sat. It is therefore essential that your child has a secure understanding of the Maths being taught at school as there is huge variance in the difficulty of 11+ papers, ranging from a Level 4 to a Level 5. In the more competitive schools, it is not uncommon for there to be questions pitched at a level beyond the Year 6 curriculum.
Most Maths papers will be non-calculated based and the test itself will usually last an hour. Some schools may also feature a mental arithmetic section. During the test, children will be required to show their working for some questions and it’s important that these instructions are followed as marks may be given even if the answer provided is incorrect.
Most parents already know that the test will be based on the Maths syllabus within the National Curriculum and that all topics within this will be assessed. However, what they often want to know is at what level and depth these questions will be pitched at. After all, there is a great difference between “23 + 44 =___” and ” __+ 16 = __ + 30″ despite both being addition questions. This is a very difficult area to give advice on as clearly all schools are different and will pitch their tests at different levels. A good starting point is to look at the Maths syllabus provided by the ISEB.
Some schools will not use the ISEB papers, preferring to write their own tests instead. This is usually the case in the more competitive schools and for some, their test questions will be pitched at a level beyond the Key Stage 2 curriculum. To find out what assessment tool your chosen school uses, do go on their admissions website as some schools will publish this information. For schools that set their own papers, there will usually be a sample 11+ Maths test available to download and/or a Maths syllabus. Look at these papers carefully as they will give you an idea of the level their tests will be pitched at as well as the type and style of questions.
It is almost certain there will be some form of problem solving in the Maths paper, although the term ‘problem solving’ is very broad in the sense that any mathematical topic can be turned into a problem solving question in some shape or form. These questions are usually found towards the end of the paper and from experience, nearly all children find this the trickiest section of the test, even the more able students. This is because these questions do not rely purely on the application of mathematical knowledge. As qualified teachers ourselves, we speak from experience when we say that problem solving at this level is an area that does not get a huge amount of coverage in the primary classroom (both private and state). Furthermore, these questions are designed to be complex so that schools can assess the level of your child’s independent reasoning and logical thinking. By default, they are therefore difficult for students due to their unfamiliarity. What we find is that once a child is taught how to organise the given information in a way that is easier to process, they soon realise that these questions aren’t as impossible as initially thought.
The last few questions in 11 Plus papers are often written to deliberately stump students, and extra care should be taken with these.
Although they aren’t exactly the same, parents wishing to give their child extra exam practice papers have two main routes: the past Maths papers written by the ISEB (purchasable from Galore Park’s website), and the free Maths papers that we provide on our website.
Once you understand the syllabus for the 11+ Maths exam, it is equally important to get your head around the English syllabus as well. You can do so by reading the next article in the series:
If you’re not sure on the fundamentals of the 11+, we recommend reading our beginners guide. This can be found here:
If you are still deciding which school to put your child forward for at 11+, we recommend using our school admissions guide to better understand the admissions process for a number of schools offering 11+ entry.
Although we don’t provide sample papers for the ISEB pre-test, we do provide our own set of Eleven Plus exam papers. These are completely free to use, and cover the main subjects assessed at 11+. You can view these using the link below.
If you are looking for a tutor, we can certainly help. We offer home tutors in London, online tutors internationally, and both short- and long-term residential tuition placements. All of our tutors are qualified school teachers, with classroom teaching experience in the subjects they tutor.