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Swot Up blog - hints, tips, news and events from the 11 plus swot world
  • When revising, if you get stuck on a question, don’t panic! There are many resources available online that can help you!

    It’s no surprise that E learning is on the rise. Technology is now used in many ways to aid learning, such as online practice exams and video tutorials, both of which can be found on the 11 plus swot website.

    The main aim of video tutorials is to explain processes clearly and concisely without too much effort required from the student. Written tutorials can sometimes be useful, but often the reader must apply a higher degree of time and energy just to understand the directions that they are supposed to follow.

    Videos on the 11 plus swot website have been tailored to suit the age and learning styles of students taking the 11 plus exam. There are more than 50 online video tutorials on the 11 plus swot website covering how to approach different styles of questions from both the verbal reasoning and mathematics section of the test. Below is an example of one of the 11 plus verbal reasoning video tutorials available on the 11PlusSwot site

    Video tutorials give students flexibility, as they are able to watch them at their own pace and replay some of the more difficult concepts. In addition, there is a much higher chance that students will be engaged by a video than a book. On videos with a voice over students may get an unconscious feeling of communication appealing to their social needs and holding their attention. Also most importantly, e learning can be fun! Learning using multi-media is refreshingly different from traditional forms of learning and may provide the motivation students need to achieve their maximum potential.

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  • Although you will have heard countless times ‘practice, practice and practice’ is the key for success in the 11 plus exam, this is not entirely true, knowing how to revise and practice is actually the key. Below are some helpful tips and some simple ways to engage your child and get them revising effectively.

    Overloading is not helpful! Allow children 5 – 10 minute breaks every so often; this will help them retain information more easily. Also, remember a 9-10 year olds typical attention span is only around 30-50 minutes! Working towards increasing this for the test is very important.

    Try changing the place your child revises. Revising in different places around the house or even in a library will make it easier for your child to be in a new environment for the test day.

    Visual Aids! Mind maps and spider diagrams are a good way to summarise and link a large amount of information concisely. They can be displayed around the house, such as on the back of a toilet door, or the on the fridge; your child will be revising without knowing it every time they walk past.

    Use incentives and rewards! If your child meets a target during revision set mini-treats as motivation.

    Make preparation as realistic as possible. Doing mock exams is one of the most effective ways to revise. The 11PlusSwot website has many different practice questions and papers, give them a go! Also in the run up to the exam complete practice papers at the same time of day as the exam, this will help your child mentally adjust to perform at their peak at this time of day. Doing practice papers under exam conditions will help your child to improve their time management.

    Spend more time practicing the topics your child is weakest at. Children will try to avoid topics they are not so good at! Allocating more time to these subjects will make them less daunting.

    Using mnemonics is a good way to remember information. (E.g. Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain, to remember the colours of the rainbow). Make them personal so they are easier for your child to remember.

    Make sure your child gets enough sleep in the run up to the exam so that they are fresh on the day of the exam.

    Arrive early on the day of the exam; this will help you both stay calm!

    Some last minute advice before the exam: If your child is starting to panic, let them know you will be proud of them no matter what the outcome. All they can do is try their best! 

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  • Give yourself the best chance at the 11 plus exam with these simple steps to prepare for any exam. If exam time always seems to creep up on you, remember it’s never too late achieve success!

    Study environment
    Try to put away all distractions, and make sure you are comfortable. Everyone’s ideal study environment will be different, for some people complete silence is needed to focus, but for others background music is preferable. You need to think about what works best for you.

    No last minute cramming
    Although a small minority of people thrive of last minute cramming, it is widely noted that this is not the best way to revise. Try to be organised and give yourself plenty of time to prepare for each exam. A good way to do this is with a revision timetable, plan out how long you have to prepare for each exam. Remember you may want to revise for longer on certain more difficult exams, such as the 11 plus verbal reasoning paper, so find a balance that works for you.

    Practice on past papers
    Past papers are one of the most effective revision tools. They will help you get used to the style and format of the questions, as well as helping you to plan your time effectively. All the past papers you need for the 11 plus exam can be found on the 11plusswot website.

    Explain your answers to others
    This is a really effective way to get answers clear in your head and will also highlight areas which you need to do more work on. Try budding up with a friend who is also taking the 11 plus exam.

    Take regular breaks
    It can be counterproductive to study for long periods without a break.  Many studies have shown taking regular breaks helps to retain knowledge in the long term. Also it can really help with motivation.

    Taking an exam can be stressful for everyone involved, parents included! Being organised is the key to success, especially on the exam day! Remember everyone revises differently, so you must find what works best for you. You can find further tips and revision tools on the 11PlusSwot website.

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  • The term grammar school originates from medieval times, describing a school that taught Latin and classical languages. Today however, they are some of the most outstanding and high achieving, academic schools in the country, which are accessible regardless of income.

    In the 1940s grammar schools became the selective part of the tripartite system, for state funded secondary education in England and Wales. This is the system whereby pupils were allocated to a grammar school, secondary technical school, or secondary modern school, depending upon their performance in the 11 plus exam. In the 1960s and 1970s the system moved towards comprehensive, non-selective, schools, and during this time most grammar schools became independent and began charging fees, whilst others closed or became comprehensive. However grammar schools are still found in many areas of the country, retaining their well established reputation as top performing schools.

    The merits and demerits of grammar schools have long been debated, with opinions dividing both the public and politicians alike. Traditionally the conservative party has backed the selective system, arguing that grammar schools produce some of the top results demonstrated in the league tables. In addition, grammar schools provide an alternative for students from low income families unable to go to a fee paying school, to gain a high standard of education. This opens doors for students, aiding them to go to universities such as Oxford and Cambridge where the main intake is predominantly from independent schools. Other advantages include improvements in a pupil’s social mobility, and a safer environment for children to excel academically without fear of being bullied, as in certain comprehensive schools.

    By preparing for the 11 plus exam, you give your child the best possible chance at gaining a place at one of these top schools. You can find further information, resources and past papers on the 11PlusSwot website, to aid your child’s revision and achieve success.


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  • 11PlusSwot created practice online testing for the 11 plus exam over 10 years ago and in that time we have gone from strength to strength. Hundreds of people take one of our tests every day and we are proud to have helped thousands of people gain a place into their chosen grammar school. 

    There are many tools available at 11PlusSwot to help your child succeed at the 11 plus exam. We feel the biggest advantage is the ability to practice the 11 plus test online. This has many benefits such as; 

    Instant feedback

    As soon as the test is complete the results are displayed. No more time wasted with manual marking. This also increases pupils motivation.

    Automatically Updated Progress Graphs

    After each test your child’s result is saved to your progress chart. This enables you to see how your child is progressing after each test. This is an important tool as it highlights subject areas where more practice is needed.

    Many More Question Papers

    Our tests are online which enables us to randomise the questions, ensuring the no two 11 plus practice exams are the same. This gives your child more chance to practice and hone their skills.

    Digital Experience

    Pupils often find digital testing less daunting than paper tests. Some may even find them a fun experience which motivates them to continue practicing.

    Fair Marking

    All our tests are marked digitally, which therefore eliminates human error, and gives an accurate result every time.

    Environmentally Friendly

    Completing online tests reduces the amount of paper used therefore reducing the effects on the environment.

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  • The 11 plus examination consists of a mathematics test based on topics taught at key stage 2. Key Stage 2 is the term used in England and Wales’ education system for the four years of schooling before children enter secondary school. These years are known as Year 3, Year 4, Year 5, and Year 6 where students are between 7 to 11 years old. The 11 plus examination is then taken at the end of year 6 to determine a place in grammar school.

    The mathematics test involves all basic concepts in maths for key stage 2, and also touches upon some further advanced topics such as algebra. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your child is familiar with a wide range of concepts. Surprisingly a common weakness for children under the age of 11 is competency with the four basic math operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Although these concepts are introduced to children early, there is little focus on learning times tables ‘by rote’ within the national curriculum which leads to difficulty during questions involving multiplication and division. Practice is crucial for success in the 11 plus exam and regularly reciting times tables will help children to master these skills before undertaking the 11 plus exam.

    Although the maths exam is based around addition, subtraction, multiplication and division it is focused on applying these skills in practical applications. These can include monetary problems, rounding decimals, calculating the properties of shapes (perimeter and area etc), transforming words into numbers, time calculations.... the list goes on. A great way in which to gain experience in all these areas is to get exposure to many different problems. This is done by going through practice papers time and time again. A great starting point is to master the 4 basic skills at key stage 2 level and then apply them to the practical applications. All the practical example questions can be found on the 11plus swot website.

    Here at the 11PlusSwot HQ we have found that the BBC key stage 2 site offers a great starting point to master the 4 topics. From here children can then start to tackle the 11plusswot maths papers to apply their knowledge and develop their skills. 

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  • The 11 plus English exam is primarily structured to focus on reading and writing skills. This includes examining basic components of the English language such as grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure and punctuation. These skills are measured on the 11 plus English exam through reading comprehension tests and essay writing.

    Typically students find the essay writing component the most challenging part of the exam. This task may take as little as 20 minutes but may take as long as 50 minutes. The topics for the essays are pre set and include factual or fictional titles, students are then able to choose which topic to write about.

    Due to the limited time for the exam, students must be able to manage their time efficiently in order to complete the exam in the allotted time. The students are advised to create a plan before beginning the essay component of the exam. Good planning is essential in essay writing as it helps the children organise their thoughts to create a structured essay.

    Priorities vary for each examiner with some placing high regard on accurate grammar, spelling, and punctuation rather than on the content; however all examiners find it is important to have well structured essay with a clearly defined “beginning, middle, and end”.  One way to develop this structure with children is by dividing their writing page into three sections with a ruler, with a short beginning section, a longer middle section and a third short section. The child must then complete their essay with the beginning, middle and ending fitted into each respective section.

    Another helpful technique for essay writing is for students to prepare an emergency ending, for use if they find they are running out of time. The ending is the last thing the examiner will read and therefore it is important that it makes an impact; if time management is an issue, this technique can be extremely useful.

    The more your child is exposed to English writing and questions the easier they will find the English section of the 11 plus exam. Head over to the English section of the 11plus swot site to get access to hundreds of sample questions to guide your child in the right direction.  



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  • With the technology growing so fast, a prediction has been made by a private school leader that the pen and paper exams will be replaced by an online tests within a decade.

    David Hanson of the Independent Association of Prep Schools believes that by 2023, technology will have been completely embraced by the education system making the pen and paper exams a thing of the past and a part of the education history.

    Maths, English, and Science will remain to be the core subjects in schools but Mr. Hanson believes that technology will soon permeate the education. Traditional exams like the 11 Plus exams for example, which are currently  taken by students as written exams, will be soon replaced by online exams where students take the tests on computers that analyze their ability and adjust the difficulty of the questions based on their skills.

    Aside from the fact that online tests will make the process faster, one of the benefits of online assessment that Mr. Hanson sees was that online assessment is more secure than written exams as mistakes made by individual markers will then be eliminated. He also believes that the implementation of online assessments can solve some of the logistical problems written exams are encountering such as the delivery and collections of papers.

    Although online tests are still on the process as so many things need to be considered first before pursuing this, it has already received good and positive feedback from some students and teachers. However, a lot of comments and reactions must also be expected when the online assessment has finally been implemented.


    Original Article featured in the BBC

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  • The comparison between state schools and independent schools has long been debated; more recently this issue has been highlighted in the media, with independent schools achieving academy status. Former labour education minister, Andrew Adonis, referred to the education system as having a persistent imbalance between state and private systems leading to  a class-based barrier.

    The independent, or fee-paying, school is often criticized as being elitist and outside of the spirit of the state system. Parents of children who go to independent schools are often regarded as part of a wealthy elite who buy the privilege for their children going to top schools.

    Consequently, Andrew Adonis wanted to put an end to the fees and exclusivity of the old class system seeing the conversion of independent schools to state-run academies as the solution just like what happened years ago when grammar schools have been converted to comprehensive schools.

    This however, was not seen by many as the best solution to solve the imbalance between the state and the independent system. When the 11 Plus program was abolished 50 years ago to allow fair education between students, many people think that it was the best decision. However, as years passed and with several schools still adopting the 11 Plus program, it has been proven that the selective education is still working.

    What really needs to be done at this point in time is to end the continuous misrepresentation of the independent schools because while the UK leaders look for solutions abroad to end the educational woes, others look enviously to UK’s own independent schools because they know it is capable of providing the children the best education they deserved.

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  • The 11 plus exam is made up for four subject headings, Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning, Maths and English. In this blog we are going to be looking at the 11 Plus Verbal Reasoning exam. 

    Verbal reasoning is defined as “understanding and reasoning using concepts framed in words.” This commonly used definition does not explain, in simple terms, what verbal reasoning actually is. So, with this in mind, we shall look into the verbal reasoning exam in more detail.

    The 11 plus verbal reasoning exam is commonly made up of 21 different question types and these can be grouped into 5 main topics; Codes, Creating Words, The Meanings of Words, Basic Maths and Reading Information. From this list we can start to see the types of things covered in the 11 plus verbal reasoning exam. They comprise of processing verbal information, logical thinking and problem-solving skills, identifying patterns and rules, determining word meaning, spelling of words accurately and applying basic math skills. 

    Even if your child has not encountered verbal reasoning style questions before, they could still possess the natural ability to excel in this area. Those who enjoy different types of puzzles namely – crosswords, word searches, word games and Sudoku seem to grasp the Verbal Reasoning section a lot quicker and more easily. Without doubt, encouraging your child to engage in these kinds of activities provides them with a good foundation for the 11 plus verbal reasoning exams. 

    At first the verbal reasoning exam may seem daunting but the only way to prepare for the 11 plus verbal reasoning exam is to do as many practise questions as possible. Your child will then start to notice the patterns in the questions and arriving at a solution will become a lot quicker. Here at the 11PlusSwot HQ we have compiled a range of practice papers designed to give your child the best possible exposure to all types of questions. Our papers contain 100’s of questions which will ensure they get to do as many verbal reasoning questions as they require.  

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