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Guidance for 11+ Entry

All schools have slightly different entry requirements so please contact me with specific queries. However, I have collected below some general pointers about the process along with a few useful website links that may be of use.

Whilst there are many websites offering practice for the computerised element of the 11+ Pre Assessment one particularly widely-used platform is Atom Learning (use promo code xZaoYmKn to get 10% off your first month's subscription).  Another long-established and respected site is Planet Bofa. You may also want to look at Bond Online Premium Plus. A popular "brain training" platform is Lumosity.

There are also large numbers of practice books and papers to choose from, the best known being the books from Bond.  However, if you are going to purchase sample papers I recommend looking at Exam Papers Plus.  You may also find its sister sites useful: Pretest PlusMark Schemes Plus and Daily Quest Plus.

Further information about the ISEB Common Pre-Test can be found here, and a walkthrough/familiarisation test is available here.  For those applying to Harrow, a familiarisation test is available here.

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General information on 11+ pre tests and interviews

An increasing number of public schools pre-assess for conditional places when pupils are in years five and six.  There are usually three parts to this process, each of which is likely to carry broadly equal weight (although each school will have a minimum academic standard that all candidates must attain regardless of their other strengths):

  1. Report from the prep. school Head.

  2. Interview.

  3. Cognitive ability test – often computerised.  These tests vary from school to school but are likely to include verbal, non-verbal and numerical reasoning, and English comprehension questions.  Some may also test mental arithmetic (solid times tables are essential), as well as spatial and perceptual awareness.  Some of these computerised tests are adaptive (i.e. they adapt to the candidate’s ability as the test progresses).  These tests are often predictive assessments of innate ability (i.e. not based on current knowledge) and practice tests are rarely available.

Good practical preparation may include the following:

  • Visit a museum/exhibition/gallery or go to the theatre before the assessment day.  Be prepared to talk about this.

  • Read a good book by a respected children’s author.  Be prepared to talk knowledgeably about this and also about the previous book(s) you have read.

  • Keep abreast of current affairs.  Discuss interesting news stories at home.

  • If the school sends out a pre-interview questionnaire ensure that this is filled in carefully – it is likely to form the basis of the interview so avoid over-embellishment!  If it is to be filled in by the candidate then practise on a rough copy first to ensure that all spelling and grammar is accurate.

In preparation for the interview it may be useful to consider and discuss the following:

1. Hobbies and free time activities both at home and in school

  • How did you get interested in these?  Do you have some unusual hobby that you can talk about?  Do you go on regular family outings to places of interest?  Why do you enjoy your hobbies?

2. Sport

  • What sports do you play?  Teams/positions/tours/unusual sports outside school?  Is sport important?  Why do you enjoy it?

3. Music/Drama/Art

  • Instruments/choirs/orchestras/groups/courses/exams?  Have you performed in public/concerts/ chapel?  What plays have you been in?  Can you summarise the plots?  Has your artwork been displayed around school?  Do you do extra art or keep a sketch book?

4. Reading

  • What kind of books do you enjoy reading (animal/adventure/factual/humorous/etc.)?  Who are your favourite authors?  Can you talk about a couple of books that you have read recently (and get the titles and authors correct)?  Can you summarise with interest what these books were about (themes/characters) and not simply recount the plots?

5. Your present school

  • Favourite/least favourite subjects?  Why?  What will you miss?  What would you change?  How would you like to be remembered?

6. Your next school

  • Why do you want to go to your new school?  What do you know about it?  Be specific – look at the website and prospectus.  Do you enjoy boarding?  What do you want to achieve at your next school?  What questions do you have about your next school?

7. Character

  • Who is your hero?  Why?  Do you have any role models?  Why?  What can you bring to your new school (i.e. why should they take you over and above someone else)?  What qualities do you admire/aspire to?  Are you particularly proud of any specific achievements?  How would your friends describe you?  How would they describe you after an argument?  Who would you invite to a dinner party and what would you talk about?

 On the day

  • Look smart.  Wear clean uniform and remember to brush your hair.

  • Be engaging.  Remember that everyone else is feeling nervous too.

The Interview

  • Remember that an interview is a conversation, not a formal “test”.

  • Greet your interviewer warmly with a firm handshake and say “Good Morning” or “Hello”.  Smile.  Make eye contact.

  • Give full and positive responses, not just one word answers.  Direct these towards the interviewer, not the floor/ceiling.  Be enthusiastic.

  • Don’t be afraid to think before answering a question.

  • Make an effort to answer everything you are asked and try to avoid saying “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure”.

  • Have two or three questions up your sleeve.

  • Say “Thank you” at the end of your interview.

The Computerised Test

  • Read any instructions very, very carefully indeed.

  • Concentrate carefully during the practice questions.

  • Don’t panic if you run out of time (some questions/sections may be timed).

  • Don’t worry if you think you got something wrong.

  • Try to get as many questions correct as you can but don’t worry if you don’t “finish” – some tests don’t have an “end”.

  • Remember that the test is difficult for everyone – you are all in the same boat.

In general, public schools do not want prospective pupils to be “coached” for their interviews as they would prefer to see them relaxed and natural.  However, it is important for candidates to feel confident and unfazed on the day, and a certain amount of sensible preparation and forethought can be immensely beneficial.

Please get in touch if you have any questions, or if you feel that I might be able to help.  If you are considering employing a tutor but do not feel that I am the right person to assist you may want to contact some of the following well-known agencies (NB these links are not endorsements): Keystone TutorsOppidan EducationBonas MacFarlaneBritish Home Tutors and, at the more exclusive end of the spectrum, Tutors International.

11+ Guidance and Websites: About
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