How to Prepare for the 11+ Maths

Eleven-Plus Preparation Specialists

Preparing for the 11+ Maths exam is a process that will be heavily dependent on the level that you are at already, and the level that you’re aiming for in the exam. However, all students – no matter their level – should aim for a solid preparation block of at least 4 weeks, and ideally a 6 week preparation period. Longer than this is likely to lead to fatigue and boredom, whilst shorter could lead to some topic areas being neglected and one’s full potential not being realised. Here, let’s consider some of the most important aspects of preparation.

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Recognise the Exam Board (or lack thereof) and its Requirements

Remember that there are different exam boards for the 11+, and that different schools will therefore have different paper types. The two most common boards are CEM and GL assessment. Of course, the proficiencies being assessed are largely the same – but you should focus on the correct board if you are applying to one local grammar school. A number of well-known schools will use their own exam format, with varying degrees of difficulty. Some of the most selective schools in the country – like Winchester or St Paul’s, for example – are known to use GCSE level questions in their papers.

Recognise the Concepts that You Need to Know

The 11+ will largely follow the national curriculum, and being at National Curriculum Level 5 is thought to be a high enough level to succeed. As such, you need to be aware of the following concepts: adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing, decimals, fractions, time, distance and speed, length, areas, volumes, and perimeters, prime numbers and factors, averages and the different types of averages, graphs and charts, angles, reflecting and rotating shapes, probabilities and ratios, patterns and sequences, and nets.

You must be aware of which of these concepts are considered ‘core’ or ‘simple’ and which are more complex. The most basic functions that you must be confident on are addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. When you are confident with these functions then you will be able to build upon them. Often multiplication and division can still be problematic for children at 11+ level, especially when the numbers involved are more complex, or when the rationale for dividing or multiplying is less clear.

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Vary the Revision Style; Have a Consistent Plan

You need a revision plan that works for you. As mentioned earlier, we would advise that you spend around six weeks in total on revision specifically for the 11+. At the outset, you ought to set a clear plan. Start with basic work, that may even seem slightly too basic – if you’ve given yourself adequate time then suring up some of these simple skills will be time well-spent. Knowing 11*12 might be a lot easier at home than it is in the pressure of an exam hall. Make sure that you review your work as you go and consistently learn where you’re going wrong, and how to handle these questions correctly. Increase the difficulty level of questions as you go. Don’t start doing timed papers for the first two or three weeks at least. As you practise more and more, what you need to practise and how to do it should become second-nature. You’ll be more aware of the areas that you need to work on, and be becoming more and more confident across the board – even with harder topics. In the final three weeks (or the second half of your revision block) you should begin introducing more complex and challenging topics – the kind that will set you apart from other students. Try to do one past paper every two or three days (as you’ll need to be balancing this work with the other sections of the 11+ too). Try to do the past paper the exact same way as you would in the exam – e.g. if it is presented as one 60 minute paper and then a subsequent shorter 30 minute paper, with a 15 minute break, then sit down and do the papers in this exact way.

To keep the revision fun, make sure to dip into maths games and maths websites that offer interactive exercises. You can even try maths puzzles (concepts like sudokus are often used in the papers) or learning about the history of various aspects of maths – like fractions, or looking into interesting topics – like how palindromes work.
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