Preparing for 11+ entrance exams without breaking the bank

We are lucky enough to live in an area that has great schools, both state and independent. But that doesn’t make the competition for places at the schools any less fierce.

Over the past few years, my kids’ peers have been going through the 11+ preparation process and I’ve learnt a thing or two, and who am I to deny you my knowledge? 😉

Here are some ways to get your child ready for entrance exams without breaking the bank.

1. DIY

I know, I know, you work full time and don’t have the spare time to help your darlings. But, I also know parents who work full time and have got their kids to go through preparation books (more on them later) and then gone through the answers with them. One set of working parents did one hour each night with their son for four nights a week in the year before the exams. He got into a very good grammar school. It’s a case of make time if you can.

2. Tutor

This can be a super expensive approach, BUT your child gets one-to-one tuition. Tutors range from £25+ per hour in these parts. The good ones are booked up pretty sharpish, but if you are on a budget, why not reserve one session a month with the tutor and DIY the rest of the time? You could try online tutors who will be much cheaper, from £11 ish an hour, and on-demand so when you need them.

3. Online courses

These are a defo great idea. There are timed questions set every night on different topics – maths, non-verbal reasoning, English and verbal reasoning – for example. The questions are marked right there and then and you can get your child to go through them alone, or better, go through them with your little love. I would recommend KSOL. They offer a Graduate Course of online only tuition for £45 per month. That includes five timed tests per week, marked and with explanations for the questions your darling got wrong.

4. Tuition schools

There are lots of these around, but beware of the ones that have high ratios of staff to children, and don’t give a realistic assessment of your child’s ability. Often the tuition schools offer 1 – 2 hours a week of group work. Look out for schools with good teacher to kids ratios, for example 1:5. Also, ask the school if it offers a traffic light system or some sort of progress report to show whether your child is on track. All that money would be wasted if your child was never suitable in the first place for a selective school. The tuition school cost varies, but tends to be less than an individual tutor for obvious reasons.

5. Revison books

Bond books seem to be a staple. Look out for 3 for 2 deals at WH Smith, or second hand books on eBay. Also look out for revision cards on eBay, as basically once a child has got their secondary place, the books aren’t needed unless another sibling is following behind.

6. Ask the schools

Ask the schools that you are looking to apply to for sample papers and then ask some more schools for theirs and you’ll get quite a stockpile.

7. Mock exams

If competition is super tough where you are, it’s worth doing at least one of these exams as basically your little bunny could be the brighest around, but if s/he crumbles under pressure and wasn’t expecting 200 kids in the same room, then these are worth doing. You can pay and do mocks from the January before exams – these are around £35 – £40 usually. And/or you can also enter exams for schools that you are unsure of or have no intention to send your child to – these serve as free mocks if they are before your child’s actual exams.

Anyway, these are just a few ideas. Please share others with us all below.

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