Is a private tutor essential for acing the 11+ exam?

If you’re planning ahead for getting your primary school aged child into a top grammar school, it can seem like every other parent is hiring a tutor. But it’s not a step you need to take. It is possible for your child to confidently enter the exam and perform their best to secure a place without having to spend a fortune on a professional tutor.

Grammar school places are hugely competitive. Some grammar schools have as many as 12 pupils sitting the tough 11+ exam for every place they can eventually offer. It means that parents are taking action to prepare their child for the exams well ahead of the them actually sitting the exam, including costly tutors. It’s rare for pupils preparing to sit the 11+ not to have had tuition at some stage. With just an hour-long session with a tutor costing around £35, it’s an extra that’s out of reach for many families. But there are alternatives.

The issue surrounding tutors to coach children preparing to sit the exam has been debated. With many arguing intense tutoring gives children from wealthier backgrounds an unfair advantage and focuses on parroting information rather than the 11+ exam demonstrating a child’s true ability and potential. So, if a private tutor isn’t something that you’re interested in, what are the alternatives?

  • Take control at home – Doing a bit of homework yourself means you’ll be in a great position to act as a tutor while spending time with your child. Speak to their current school first to identify any gaps in their knowledge and work on these together. Tapping into family and friends that are experts in certain areas is an ideal alternative too.
  • Online resources – The internet means you have a huge range of resources right at your fingertips. From professionals offering an insight into solving tricky maths problems to teachers demonstrating exam techniques, it’s possible to have the benefits of a tutor without having to hire one. We’ve got video tutorials available for your child to watch and learn alongside, providing an invaluable resource.
  • Group sessions – If your child’s friends will also be sitting the 11+, group sessions are an excellent idea. The children can help each other work through problems and explaining answers to each other can help the methods stick in their heads. It’ll make revising less of a chore too, and a bit of friendly competition could be just what they need to reach their full potential.
  • Past papers – One of the main areas that pupils struggle with when sitting the 11+ is the exam style and simply getting used to test conditions. It’s an area that past papers can help with. Practice does make perfect, and when combined with online resources identifying where mistakes have been made and how to pick up those extra few marks, practice papers can make a huge difference to how your child performs in the 11+.

If you still feel that your child would benefit from a private tutor but it’s not an expense you can afford on your own, you could complement the alternatives with a few sessions, giving your child a chance to bring up the areas they’re really struggling to get to grips with.

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