Have you left 11 plus prep too late? 6 top tips to help

Profile photo for Abigail, a tutor with Owl Tutors
AbigailOwl Tutor

7 Plus, 8 Plus & 11 Plus

June 8th, 2022Last updated: April 25th, 2023

In this article, Abigail, an experienced teacher and school entrance specialist, provides advice and guidance on what to do if you think you've left the 11 plus preparation until the last minute.

11 plus prep – When should you start?

It can be daunting for those who have not been through the 11 plus process before. Which schools to choose? How does the assessment process work? When should I start tuition? are all questions I have been asked by parents. 

In an ideal world I recommend starting tuition in Year 4. By avoiding the last minute cramming, early preparation reduces any unnecessary stress on both parent and child. Furthermore, it allows enough time for your tutor to bolster the maths and English objectives taught at school, as well as develop your child’s problem solving skills for maths and vocabulary building in English (which can take time for a child to apply to their work). 

However, for those who have missed the Year 4 start date and who are now hurtling towards the 11 plus at an uncomfortable pace, below outlines a few ways you can effectively use the months leading up to the 11 plus:

1) Get a tutor (preferably with experience of your target schools)

Granted, you may have already done this, but if you have not… find a tutor. And more importantly, find the right tutor. 

It seems obvious, but when you have limited time it is really important to find an experienced tutor, one who knows what to prioritise and who is familiar with the entrance exams to the schools you are applying to. 

For example, it is important to know whether the schools you are applying to use the ISEB multiple choice pretest, or if they write their own assessment (or both), as it takes slightly different preparation for each type of exam. 

Therefore, find a tutor who is really familiar with the 11 plus process for your particular schools, especially if you’re short on time.  You can search for tutors with specific school experience below:

2) Be realistic 

I have known a lot of parents, who at the time of choosing schools, set their sights on St Paul’s, Westminster, Latymer Upper for their child and of course I can see why: these are impressive schools, with even more impressive reputation. 

However, this also means the competition is fierce. Although I have never, and would never, advise a client not to aim for the top school, it is important that you apply for other schools as well. 

Try to consider the right school for your child, instead of trying to mould you child for a school that may not be the best fit for them. Remember, once you’re in, the academic expectations are only going to increase and the pressure heighten. 

If you are unsure of your secondary school options, a good tutor should be able to advice you on all the schools that meet your criteria and are a good fit for your child. 

3) Get online

There is now a huge amount of online resouces available for school entrance preparation. 

Owl Tutors provides a number free school entrance resources, including practice papers. Each paper has been written by a qualified teacher with specific school entrance experience. You can even ask to work with the tutor-author if you like!

You may want to supplement this by registering with an online website that issues 11 plus style practice questions in maths, English, NVR and VR. 

Not only does this help your child become familiar with computer-based testing, you will never run out of resources. 

Paid for services I would recommend are:

Atom Learning

Pre Test Plus


You will have to pay a monthly subscription, but again, if you are short on time, it is money well spent for the convenience and excellent database of test offered. 

4) Organise a study timetable for home 

One of the best ways to help your child is to get them to do practice papers. I would suggest purchasing a selection of 11 plus books, some publications I recommend are Bond Books for NVR and VR, Schofield and Simms for Maths and RLS for English. 

Ideally, at home study would include a maths, English, NVR and VR paper a week. I would recommend writing a study timetable, so there is allocated time during the week to get these done. 

For example, you could schedule a maths and English paper Saturday and Sunday, leaving NVR and VR for two evenings during the week.

Importantly, this should leave enough time for any extra curricula activities, after school clubs and/or homework to be done without you or your child’s stress levels going through the roof. 

5) Practice with mock exams

Mock exams are an important part of 11 plus preparation. 

Normally, I would advise mock exams to be done around the end of June, or beginning of July. However, if you are short on time, the end of August would be your best option. Not only do mock exams give your child an idea of what they will be expected to do in the real tests in terms of content and time, it will also indicate the likelihood of achieving success in those tougher 11 plus exams.

6) If one to one tuition isn’t an option, find an 11 plus camp 

I often get asked about 11 plus camps and whether they are worth it. 

The short answer is yes, and the long answer is do your research and find a good one. A way to do this is to talk to other parents who have already gone through the 11 plus, or if this is not a possibility ask your tutor. 

There are lots of camps out there and like with everything there are some that are better than others. 

One that I would recommend is Exceptional Academics 11 + Booster Course.

Final Thoughts

Finally, I always feel that the 11 plus is very much a group effort, so it is important to communicate with your child and your tutor. 

I believe a good tutor should give you updates on your child’s progress along the way, so there are no surprises come exam time. 

If you liked this article, subscribe to our newsletter

By subscribing to our newsletter you agree to receive email from us and agree to our Terms and Conditions*


    gil.ganyon@gmail.com said on 3rd Dec 2023
    'I believe a good tutor should give you updates on your child’s progress along the way, so there are no surprises come exam time.' I absolutely agree with this statement. As a tutor, I find your article very useful.
      Ed Barnett replied on 4th Dec 2023
      Thanks for your comment Gil, really glad you agree!

Join the discussion!

Related Posts