Everything you need to know about the 11+


What is the 11+?

The 11+ is a test to decide which secondary school your child will go to. If they take the 11+ and pass, they have the option of applying to the county’s grammar schools.


What is the test like?

Up until 2017, the test was formulated by Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring. Their test comprises two papers, both multiple choice. Each paper is about 45 minutes long and is split into a number of separately timed sections.

From autumn 2018, the test will be provided by GL Assessment, who provided the test prior to 2013. Bucks county switched to CEM in the hope that the test would become “tutor-proof” but it proved a failed experiment. It’s too early to say what their test will look like, except to confirm that “they will continue to assess verbal, non-verbal and mathematical skills and that children will continue to sit a practice test and then two test papers.” Further details are meant to become available this November.

However,one headmaster of a grammar school has been quoted as saying that ”the new test will avoid the current situation, in which many pupils who won places at his school with the help of intensive tutoring struggle to keep up with lessons once they arrive.”


Why is the 11+ controversial?

The controversial test has been criticised for allegedly giving unfair advantage to children from better-off homes, as they are able to afford tutoring.


Why tutor for the 11+?

Despite the assertion that the "new" Buckinghamshire Transfer Test was "tutor-proof" this simply wasn’t the case. The outgoing 11+, devised by the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) at Durham University, was supposed to be 80% comprised of what is being taught at school. However, this didn’t not allow for those who need extra help with the school curriculum, nor that elusive 20% that isn't being taught!

It remains to be seen how the new test will differ.


What's the process for applying for the 11+?

Depending on which school you are applying for, you will either need to apply directly to the grammar school or to the Admission & Transport team. If your child goes to a Buckinghamshire LA primary school, they will automatically be registered to take the Transfer Test. If your child goes to any other school you need to register them for Transfer Testing.

At present, the Schools' admission rules are being considered by the Office of the School's Adjudicator (OSA). Updates to the rules will be available on schools' websites when available. The OSA ruling may also impact on the moving deadline of 1 October 2017 for most grammar schools


What's the process for applying for the 11+ if I'm out of county?

The same process as above applies but there is no guarantee of a place, even if your child passes the test.


When is the 11+ exam this year?

12 September – Preparation Test

14 September – Secondary Transfer Test


When do the results come out this year?

13 October


What if my child doesn't pass and I want to appeal?

If your child scores 121 or more on the Transfer Test they are automatically qualified for grammar school. If they do not score 121 parents can request a Selection Review and/or Independent Admission Appeal. Download the Transfer Testing Process for more information.




What does a tutoring session consist of?

A tutoring session will be a fun mixture of learning using books, computers and games. We will practice some English comprehension, some mental maths, a maths topic, an English topic, some spelling and possibly some nonverbal reasoning. We will have at least six, but usually more, activities in a two-hour lesson and that won’t include the stop for refreshments and the opportunity to try one of the many educational games just waiting to be played on the shelves in the classroom.


How long is a session?

Each session for the11+ Preparation course is two hours.


How often should my child have a session?

There are 36 teaching weeks in the year so your child can have a lesson almost every week of the school term time. We teach 34 lessons in the year.


Are all tutors CRB checked?

Yes all the staff have the DBS clearance that is expected of any person working with children.


Where does the tutoring take place? Can you come to my home?

All sessions take place in our fully equipped bright and airy classroom in Chesham High Street. We don’t come to your house, as we don’t like to clear you off your dining table just as you are trying to prepare the dinner and we can’t bring all our resources with us.


Can I have a trial session?

Yes of course, there is no charge for a  free assessment session before you and your child decide whether they want to join us. A trial lesson will be charged at the normal rate.


How much do I have to pay in advance; is there a contract?

We invoice you monthly over 10 months. This spreads the payment out equally. Payment is expected in advance for those lessons to take place. If you decide to stop we need a month’s notice.


What's the best way to study for the 11+?

It will depend on your child, but we suggest a weekly lesson from us will build their confidence and enable them to progress at a steady pace. We do offer a last minute ‘crash course’ for those children who have not done any preparation before the summer holidays but most children learn better at a more sensible pace, with a mixture of different ways of learning; books, computer programmes, games etc.


What's the maximum size of study group?

The maximum size of the group is five children. That means we get to know every child extremely well and, in particular, their strengths and weaknesses and learning styles, so that we can individualise our teaching for the children.


Can my child have private sessions on their own?

We find children learn better in small groups as they interact and learn from each other as well as the tutor. If a child is having difficulty with a particular subject then we might suggest they have individual sessions as a top up but there are no individual 11+ lessons.


What makes Pen and Ink Tuition different?

We strongly believe that all children need to enjoy their learning so we work hard to make the sessions fun and exciting. We want children to become happy and confident learners. Our small group sizes ensure that we can give children individual attention and they still benefit from the group sessions.


What happens if I miss a session, do I still have to pay?

There are no refunds for non-attendance but we will send you the work your child missed.


Will my child have homework?

Yes – but we don't insist on it, as we recognise that children are likely to already have a heavy burden of homework from school.


How many of your tutees end up passing the 11+?

We accept any child whose parents would like them to do the course. We don’t just pick those who will pass. Fairly early on we will be able to tell you whether your child is likely to pass and we will say that to you. Grammar school will not suit every child and you, as parents, need to visit all the schools and decide for yourself which school will suit your child. The children who do not pass will have improved their English and Maths skills considerably and are more likely to be placed in higher sets when they get to secondary school. Every group of children is different but a rough guide would be that 65% of the children we think will pass do so.


How do you keep track of where my child is in terms of English and Maths in school?

Every piece of information you give us regarding the work they are doing at school will help us move your child on. We try to mirror the national curriculum closely with what they will be doing at school. We do ask the children regularly whether they have covered the topic they are working on with us at school. More often, however, we get comments like ’I was the only one who knew the answer to that at school because you had taught it to me here.’


Will you keep me informed of my child's progress?

Every lesson your child has will include a feedback sheet with comments about their progress on particular aspects of the lesson. We encourage the children to reflect on their own learning and evaluate what they have achieved.


How much does it cost?

A two-hour lesson costs £50. There is a discount for parents who would like to book for the whole year in advance, and also a sibling discount.



25 High Street
Chesham HP5 1BG
T: 01494 773300
E: penny@penandinktuition.co.uk

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