The Eleven Plus Exams

Although every child is entitled to the best education, the best education is not available for every child. At least in the UK, supply is less than demand, making it highly competitive to get into the best schools and universities. Apart from the shortage of places though, ignorance continues to rob many parents of the opportunity to give the best education to their children and unfortunately some believe that the best schools are reserved for children from a certain social class. There are a number of reasons for some to draw this conclusion however as will be explored in the rest of this article, this is an erroneous idea which has proven to be untrue time and again, where the right steps have been taken.
  • Academic Attainment Levels – Generally speaking, independent/private secondary schools and state selective schools (also known as grammar schools) tend to yield the best academic results. Although a good number of comprehensive schools also attain high performance levels, in relative terms, the attainment levels are higher in selective schools.
  • Admission Criteria – Quite often, the best comprehensive schools operate very strict admission criteria based on factors such as catchment area or religious organisation membership. As these schools tend to be situated in the more affluent areas, such admission conditions automatically put inner city children who do not live in a “high brow” post code area or have an affiliation with such religious organisations at a disadvantageAll hope is however not lost for the gifted inner city child with a good academic foundation as the main admission criteria of the state selective schools is often based on academic merit typically via a number of testing systems such as 11 Plus or CAT exams.
  • Setting the Right Path – Although not the only determining factor, the impact that a child’s primary education and eleven plus performance has on the secondary school he or she ends up attending cannot be ignored; and in turn, the secondary school attended will to a large extent, determine the GCSE and A level performance and ultimately the quality of the university he or she will attend. It is hence very important for parents to set the priorities of their children’s education right from onset.
  • Key Ingredients for Success – There is the school of thought that sitting an eleven plus exam is too stressful for a child hence some parents are afraid to put their children forward for these exams. However, all it requires is adequate preparation which includes using the right materials. The age-old cliché states that practice makes perfect however I would hasten to add that it is the correct practice that makes perfect.

Correct practice involves using the right materials and working with right tutor. Eleven plus exam preparation is not part of the state primary school curriculum, therefore, it is the responsibility of the parent to prepare the child, not the school. Most would employ the services of a private tutor for this and rightly so too.

Finally it should also be noted that it whilst there are a lot of excellent private tutors out there, not all the private tutors have eleven plus knowledge and experience and some parents are better skilled at teaching their children than some private tutors


  1. RL

    Good article and I would add it requires a lot of commitment, patience and dedication on the part of the parent(s) to ensure their child/ward practices regularly to ensure exam readiness without stress and tears, RL

    1. AdminTSK

      Thanks RL!

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