How to prepare for private school 11+ exams

The exams for private schools in Manchester happen throughout January each year. They are competitive exams that help your child gain admission to some of the best schools in the country. They normally include a Maths and English paper, of which Creative Writing is a part, and Verbal Reasoning. Some also include a Non Verbal Reasoning paper too. Here are our five top tips on how to prepare for these 11+ exams in a stress-free way.


1. Start early

The sooner you start preparing for these exams the better. Having longer to prepare takes the pressure off, as your child can build up their confidence across the papers slowly – rather than having to rush at the end. Starting now, gives your child a year to prepare themselves for the exam: getting used to both the new content that is covered and the speed of the paper.


2. Make sure you’re familiar with the new content

The exam papers cover content that many primary schools will not have looked at in detail. The idea is to challenge students to see how they approach new challenges, especially logical reasoning challenges. As with anything, the more they practice, the more familiar and comfortable they become with the styles of questions asked. The maths and English papers often include questions that would come up at the start of a child’s high school education; whilst the (Non) Verbal papers are entirely new.


3. Practise using past papers

It’s crucial to spend time working through past exam papers; this gives students a chance to get used to the timings of the paper and the way questions are phrased. Even learning how to answer on the exam sheet, simple as that may sounds, may be a new skill that requires practice.


4. Get your head around exam technique

For many students, this will be the first exam that they sit, so it’s important that exam technique is itself taught explicitly. For example, the exam paper does not necessarily need to be answered in the order that it is set. It’s often more effective to answer the questions they’re confident with first of all, before going back through the paper for the others. Our team of 11+ tutors will work one to one with your child to ensure they’re comfortable with the exam techniques required for tackling private school papers.


5. Work alongside a specialist tutor

The content that’s covered in the 11+ exam is significantly different to what’s covered at school. One of our specialist tutors can ease the pressure of preparing for the exam by guiding your child through the course – including bespoke online tuition while we remain in lockdown. We’re able to tailor sessions to where your child most needs support – and also to where they can be challenged. For more information on how we can help, pop in your details below.