As we settle into the new school year, many primary school parents will be thinking ahead to secondary school. Will your child take the 11 with the hope of attending a grammar school? And if you decide to opt for the 11 , should you hire a tutor to help them?
In 2013, one in four families used a private tutor, with this figure rising to two in four within the London area. The percentage for those studying for the 11 is thought to be considerably higher - but do you need a tutor in order to pass the exam?
The 11 exam varies depending on the county you live in, but as a general rule the exam tests four key areas: English; Maths; Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning. Traditionally the 11 was a test to identify those children with high learning potential who may benefit from a grammar school environment - a test of ability rather than of knowledge or things already learned.
The tests themselves are designed to be "tutor-proof” - so is there any point in investing in a tutor? Well, yes and no. If your child is struggling with English or Maths, a tutor could help them to pass this aspect of the exam - but excessive tutoring before the exam could mean that your child then struggles to keep up with their peers once they begin at their new school. This could damage their confidence and is definitely something to bear in mind.
When it comes to verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning, although the exams are designed to be "tutor-proof” there could be some benefit in hiring a tutor to help in this area. Whilst English and Maths are core subjects in school, many schools may not focus on verbal reasoning or non-verbal reasoning in normal lessons, and so children may be completely unfamiliar with these types of questions. Here a tutor can be useful because they can show a child how to go about answering this sort of question.
Children can find verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning questions hard to understand if they’ve never seen them before. A little practice can be beneficial to help them get into the habit of thinking in a different way in order to "reason” the answers.
Ultimately the decision as to whether to hire a tutor to help your child through the 11 depends upon your child. Whether your hire a tutor or not, your child will most likely benefit from trying out practice papers beforehand. This may be something you want to work on yourself with your child, or you may feel that they will respond better with a tutor. A good tutor will be able to get the best from your child without their feeling overwhelmed or burnt out.