About 11 Plus (11+) Interviews
Many secondary schools will invite students during their Year 7 admissions process to interviews and these interviews can be the vital distinguishing difference between two children who received the same entrance exam results looking to be accepted into their school. These interviews are usually short, about 15-20 minutes, but can be longer, in which case the questions may fall into the ‘additional interview questions’ section.
Schools want to know what your child will bring to their school community, what subjects or extracurricular activities they are enthusiastic about, are they gifted in a particular field like drama, sports, or music, and are they someone who will act as a team player and be able to collaborate with other students, for example. This blog post will provide some questions to practise with your child to help them hone their interview-taking skills.
Tips on 11 Plus (11+) Interview etiquette
- Keep it positive
Interview etiquette is about knowing what to say as well as how to say it (i.e. their tone of voice and body language). Guide your child to use a positive tone of voice; avoid using lots of extreme negatives (e.g. ‘I hate English’/‘Science is the worst’) because this may come across as harsh, aggressive, or whiny. Instead, if asked about their least favourite subjects, replicate similar phrasing to that of question asked by the interviewer:
Question: What is your least favourite subject?
Answer: I hate English/Science is the worst —> My least favourite subject is English / Science because…
- Answer with full sentences
In general, it is good to help your child practice answering questions using full sentences. Have them start their sentences using the wording of the interviewer’s questions much like how you would do in a written exam to get them in the habit of articulating their answers in this way. Make sure these answers include explanations as opposed to being short Yes/No answers which come off as blunt and do not provide much information about your child to the interviewer; the following structure could be useful for answering questions with detail:
e.g. Question: Do you like reading?
Point: Make your point. Yes, I love reading. Evidence: Provide evidence. I particularly like adventure books.
Explain: Explain your answer. At the moment, I am reading a book called ‘The 1,000-year-old boy’ about an immortal teenage boy with vivid memories of the past. I would be happy to talk to you about it in more detail.
- Avoid rambling
However, as shown above, it is good to leave some space for the interviewer to ask your child to expand even further. Using a phrase like ‘I would be happy to talk to you about X in more detail’ is useful after your child has already provided some explanation and evidence because it allows them to keep their answer leading up to that point clear. Then, if the interviewer wants even more detail from them they can ask; this helps to stop, on the other side of the coin, your child from rambling which can be overwhelming.
A good tip to help limit rambling, which is common when we are nervous, is to try to avoid using too many connectives:
e.g. ‘Yes, I like to read and I particularly like adventure books and mystery books and right now I’m reading a book called ‘The 1,000-year-old-boy and it’s really good and I also like a book called ‘Tanglewreck’ and the main character in it is really cool, oh and there’s this other book I really like, what’s it called again, sorry it’s just on the tip of my tongue…’.
This does not sound as succinct, has a limited range of vocabulary, comes across as too informal, and is more difficult for the reader to follow. Plus, it will probably make you feel out of breath and no one wants to be flustered taking an interview.
- Open body language
As for body language, when your child meets their interviewer make sure they know to shake their hand, smile, introduce who they are, and look them in the eye while they speak or are spoken to. Their interviewer will most likely ask them to take a seat, help your child understand what good posture is: avoiding slouching, sitting with their back straight, swinging their legs under a chair, and holding their hands together in their lap to avoid fidgeting.
- Look smart
Moreover, make sure your child looks smart and neat: tidy hair, clean shoes, and wearing a tucked-in pressed shirt. Before the interview, have your child practice answering interview questions like the examples provided below.
11 Plus (11+) Interview question examples
The following list is divided into key and additional questions. Key questions will most definitely come up in your child’s interview whilst additional questions may/may not be asked in a short interview but could appear in a longer interview. Ask your child a mixture of all these questions to help prepare them for their actual interview.
- KEY: Current School: How are you currently involved in your school/Are you participating in a school play/sports teams/clubs? What subject do you enjoy the most/like the least?
- KEY: Extracurricular activities: What sports do you enjoy/do you enjoy sports? Are you reading a book right now – tell me about it? What kinds of books do you like reading? Do you read any newspapers/magazines?
- KEY: Personal Life: What do you like to do with your family/friends after/during school/on weekends? What are you interested in? What do you like to do to relax/for fun on weekends? Do you have any hobbies – what are they?
- ADDITIONAL: Transfer School: Why do you want to join our school/what do you like about our school? How would you contribute to our school?
- ADDITIONAL: Awards & Achievements: What have you done that you are proud of? (e.g. winning a competition, getting into a club, helping out in the community)
- ADDITIONAL: Future Plan: What would you like to be when you grow up?
- ADDITIONAL: Tests: Your child may be given small tests, for example, discussing a philosophical/moral question (e.g. What do you think about climate change/homelessness? Is being smart or kind more important to you?), mental maths questions (e.g. Can you multiply 3 by 6 in your head, and then subtract that answer from 20?), or analysing a writing excerpt (e.g. What do you think the main character is feeling in this passage? What are the key themes of this poem?).
- ADDITIONAL: Show & Tell: Your child may be asked to bring an object of value to the interview (e.g. something they have created or something of personal significance). Their interviewer may ask them questions about this object such as: Why did you choose to bring in this object? Why is this important to you?
How to prepare your child for the 11 Plus (11+) exam
The most useful way to prepare for the 11+ entrance exams is to use practice papers to familiarise your child with the exam content and format.
Our website offers a range of practice papers that focus on the essential skills your child needs to prepare for the 11+ entrance exam including English, maths, verbal reasoning, and non-verbal reasoning. These practice tests can help your child to build their confidence and improve their performance on the exam.
Verbal Reasoning: https://examberrypapers.co.uk/papers/11-plus/verbal-reasoning
Non-Verbal Reasoning: https://examberrypapers.co.uk/papers/11-plus/non-verbal-reasoning
Examberry Tuition: https://www.examberry.com