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How can we prepare for the 11 plus (11+) at home?

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction to preparing for the 11 plus (11+) at home

The following are our top five tips for preparing for the 11 plus (11+) at home.

1. Research 11 plus (11+) exams for your child’s targeted schools

School building

Admissions Process

You can use the following as a guide for researching the key information you need to find out for preparing your child for the 11+ at home:

Key Dates:

  • Registration opens – the date from which you can submit your child’s application, this application may include a submission fee and photographs of personal documents.


  • Registration deadline – the date by which you need to have submitted your child’s application to be considered for entry, there may also be a certain time of day at which registration for that year closes.


  • Scholarship application deadline – the date by which you need to have submitted your child’s scholarship application if the school offers scholarships, the scholarship may perhaps be an academic, art, drama, music, or sport scholarship, there may be follow up interviews/auditions at the school.


  • Bursary application deadline – the date by which you need to have submitted your bursary application if the school offers bursaries, details about your yearly household earnings will be inquired.


  • Exam dates – the date or dates of child’s entrance exams, independent school exam dates may have two stages held on different dates.


  • CAF submission – the CAF or Common Application Form lists your child’s top selected schools they will be applying to and should be submitted to your local home authority.


  • Interviews – the date(s) when your child may sit 15-20 1-on-1 or group interviews with heads of staff like the Head of the School, the Head of the Year, and departmental heads; not all schools have an interview stage.


  • Results – the date when you will receive your child’s results, typically via email, multiple Stage exams may have multiple-rounds of results, the results of the Stage 1 exam can determine whether your child is invited to sit the Stage 2 exam.


  • Offers sent – the date when your child may receive their offer to their targeted school, this could be National Offer Day which this year is the 1 March 2024 or the school may send out offer emails.


  • Accepting offer deadline – the date by which you need to accept your child’s offer, this may include payment of first school term’s fees or some other acceptance fee.

School Type:

  • Grammar – A grammar school is a selective secondary state school in the UK which determines admission based on academic ability.
  • Independent – An independent school, also known as a private school, is a school which is privately administered and funded (fees are directed to parents/guardians of their students) as opposed to being government funded or administered.

Exam Subjects:

  • Maths – based on KS2 national curriculum maths, numerical problem-solving.
  • English – based on KS2 national curriculum English, assessing reading, comprehension, knowledge and understanding of SPAG and vocabulary, potentially including creative writing which could involve continuing a piece of writing or writing based on a stimulus.
  • Verbal reasoning – word-based problem-solving.
  • Non-verbal reasoning – number-based problem-solving and code-breaking, potentially including spatial reasoning – spatial problem-solving.

Exam Format:

  • Standard (written) format – students are asked a question and required to write out an answer.
  • Multiple-choice – students are asked a question and must select one of multiple provided answers.

Exam Types:

  • Paper-based – a paper-based exam is where questions are printed on physical paper, it may include multiple papers and answer booklets.
  • Online – an online exam is where questions appear on a screen, so your child may be taking the test via a computer or iPad, it may also be adaptive, meaning depending on the answers your child gets right or wrong, the test will give them different questions of lower or higher difficulty to try to match their level. 

Exam Boards:

  • ISEB Common Pre-Test
  • GL Assessment
  • CSSE
  • CEM Select

For example:

  • Tiffin Girls’ School – is a grammar school with an exam consisting of two stages. Stage 1 is a multiple-choice test assessing English and maths. Successful candidates of Stage 1 are invited to sit Stage 2 which is a written test assessing English and maths.
  • City of London School – is an independent school with an exam consisting of two parts. Part 1 is an online assessment testing mathsEnglishnon-verbal reasoningverbal reasoningpuzzles & problem solving, and creative comprehension. Part 2 is a written test which will require students to continue a piece of writing based on a stimulus or write a persuasive piece of writing.

2. Create a study schedule

Monthly schedule notebook

Make sure to start preparing in advance to get ahead. A great way to begin this preparation is to plot it out as a study schedule, working it around their school schedule. You can print out a yearly calendar and allocate out time to study sessions, building up more sessions the closer your child gets to their exams; and then replicate this in their planner if they have one.


Stick it up on the fridge so it is in a visible location in your house where you and your child can keep on track of their studying journey. Getting into a habit of studying will help make the revision process run more smoothly instead of cramming revision all into the days before the exam.

3. Create a study space

Study desk

Choose a space that is quiet, with no distractions, for your child to study and sit practice papers. Having a designated study space helps to draw a line between school studying, 11+ studying, and relaxation time. 

It is a good idea to encourage your child to decorate their space. For example, with photos, a plant, postcards, drawings, or stationery organisers. This can give your child a sense of responsibility for their space and helps them to better enjoy to returning to this space to study.

4. Practise in fun ways

Children playing monopoly close-up

Have fun practising! Make some elements of their study sessions games to mix things up. Here, are five of our recommended educational board games for you to try out with your child:

  • Monopoly It boosts your child’s numerical skills for their maths exam(s).
  • Dixit – It boosts your childs story-telling skills for their creative writing exam(s).
  • Bananagrams It boosts your child’s word-based problem-solving skills and widens your vocabulary for their verbal reasoning and English exams.
  • MadLibs It boosts your child’s comprehension and story-telling skills for their verbal reasoning and English exams.
  • Wasij Jigsaw Puzzles It boosts your child’s spatial-reasoning skills for their non-verbal reasoning exam(s).

5. Prepare with practice papers

Girl on iPad at desk smiling

Sitting papers in exam conditions is the best way to practise for the 11+ exams. Try to make the environment as similar as possible by clearing the space of clutter as much as you can, having them sit papers with a timer, without a calculator for maths papers, and with a clear pencil case containing their pencils, a sharpener, and eraser.

Examberry Papers

We offer a range of  11+ revision resources including area & school-specific papers, subject-specific papers, spelling & vocabulary resources, and reading books.

Each of our practice tests:

Key Recommendations for the 11+

Further Recommendations

Examberry Tuition

On our sister site, Examberry Tuition, you can also sign up for in-person or online 11+ tuition courses to give your child the best chance of getting into the top school of their choice.

We offer a variety of course formats and teaching styles to make the 11+ tuition process flexible for your child’s learning needs. 

With a passion for education, Examberry consistently succeeds in helping pupils achieve places at their chosen schools. 

Examberry Mocks

You can also book places for mocks through our sister site, Examberry Mocks. For the most realistic replication of actual exam conditions, we recommend you sign your child up to sit as many mock exams as possible before their entrance exam.  Examberry Mocks are great because they operate on a level system, wherein at each of the three levels, the difficulty of the papers gradually increases to work alongside your child’s progress.

Suppose you are unsure of which mocks to sign-up for. In that case, you can fill out a request form for a Free Exam Preparation Plan, which will include recommended mocks for your child’s targeted schools and provide recommended practice tests and other resources for these schools.

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