What are the 11+ exams?
If you’re in the UK you might have heard of the 11+ exams. In a nutshell these are exams that usually happen in the autumn and they are sat by children in Year 6 (essentially the last year of Primary school), for those trying to gain admission into Grammar or Private school. They aren’t mandatory but elective, and in addition to SATs which happen afterwards in the spring of Year 6.
My daughter will be sitting 11+ exams in a week, and although I’d heard of these exams before, it feels like the past few months (as our preparation for them have intensified), have been like a baptism by fire for both my daughter and I. I had no clue before, and now that we’re right in the middle of it, I still feel like I’ve only gone up an inch in terms of being clued up. For the child, they’re studying to sit an exam that is approximately 2 levels above where their mates not doing the exam are. For the parent, there’s the pressure of getting helping and motivating your child to prepare. It is not easy mehhnnnn!
What does it entail?
There’s no particular order, but just recalling as I remember them):
- The tutoring (hours and hours and hours of it). I really felt for my daughter who didn’t have much of a summer holiday as a result. Motivating oneself to study when others are relaxing and enjoying themselves isn’t easy. Plus, tutoring isn’t cheap either.
- The research into the school selections. From looking at the potential schools in the area, their application procedures, admission criteria and deadlines, school rankings (of which there are many), transportation options and costs if your child gains admission, other associated costs – uniforms, school trips etc. It’s a lot.
- The registration to sit the exam. I had to read this a couple times, then get other friends to talk me through it a few more times. There are different processes and deadlines for different boroughs, and unfortunately it’s not a one form fits all process.
- The mock exams. Any exam is tough so imagine what the kids are going through. How many people manage stress and pressure with breeze? I’ve worked through a couple of these mocks and there were some questions I just had to put my hand up and admit defeat. I was clueless.
- The motivation, coaching and encouragement of the child through the process. Even if you’ve got the best tutor, some parental input is required to compliment and boost your child’s preparation. Be prepared to work almost as hard, if not as hard as your child.
- The exam itself, then the ultimate nervous wait. Lord help me!
I’ll keep you posted
Look out for my “Tips on how to survive 11+” maybe in a few months, after I’ve gone through a full round. It’s still too full on and fresh right now.
“Why do we go through all this stress?” I hear you ask. Wanting to give our children the best exposure and opportunities we think there is. Wanting to challenge and teach them the importance and benefits of hardwork. At least these were my reasons.
So if you’re an 11+ mum, I salute and applaud you. It is not easy. I hope you’re coming to the end of this year’s round without any additional grey hairs, and I’m wishing your child confidence, retentive memory, health and ultimately success and admission into the right school for them.