A Parent’s Perspective on the 11+ examination process
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In this blog post, we interview Sharon Cato. Sharon’s son, Joseph, successfully gained entry to Wilson’s School for 2014 entry. She describes her personal experience and offers some invaluable advice to fellow parents!
Why Did You Decide to Apply to the Grammar Schools?
I decided to apply to the grammar schools because my son Joseph’s attainment was above average, and I felt that they could help him to reach his full potential.
How Did you Prepare for the Exams?
We prepared for the exams starting in September 2012, in Year 5, so that Joseph would have a whole year to get into a routine, initially with a small group of pupils, and then one to one with Faisal Nasim, the Director of Exam Papers Plus, in early April of that year.
How Did you Keep Joseph Motivated?
I kept Joseph motivated by ensuring that he actually wanted to go to our first-choice school: Wilson’s. He loves football and science and the coaches at Wilson’s give each boy an opportunity to improve their existing skill set in an environment that promotes creativity, teamwork, passion and pride. We also went to the Wilson’s open evening, and Joseph found this very motivating as he thoroughly enjoyed the activities available for the boys to try.
How Did you Deal With the Stress?
I kept the stress to a minimum by starting the whole process one year before the exam to avoid last minute anxieties. We built the preparation into our routine so there was still time for playing, relaxing and weekend fun.
What Advice do you Have for Parents Wishing to Apply for 11+ Grammar School Entry?
My advice for parents wishing to apply to grammar schools is to start no later than the first day of term in Year 5 so you have plenty of time to prepare at a realistic pace. If small-group tuition is not suitable, get one-to-one lessons, particularly in the latter stages as your child may benefit from individual attention.
Make sure the tutor offers a bespoke service, tailored precisely to your child and your choice of school, with experience of getting the results you require. Ensure that your child does a few reputable, relevant mock exams, to learn the techniques pertaining to timed testing. Create a Maths checklist for your child with common mistakes to avoid, and a creative writing one listing the kinds of literacy attributes that examiners want to see.
What Were Your Personal Highlights/Lowlights?
The personal lowlight was when Joseph kept making careless mistakes in his Maths practice papers, and the highlight was when he finally learned how to avoid these common errors, with the help of his tutor and the checklists.
How Did Your Child Deal With the Process and How Did he Develop Over Time?
Joseph enjoyed the small group tuition and looked forward to the lessons; over time he preferred the one to one teaching because he received individual attention and had a good relationship with his tutor, Faisal. Over the year of preparation, he learned vital skills that helped him to receive an offer at our first-choice school, and I am convinced that he could not have done this without the excellent tutoring that he received.
Click here to view the practice papers Joseph used to pass the Wilson’s Grammar School 11+ Exam.
A note from Joseph’s tutor, Faisal Nasim, Director of Exam Papers Plus:
Teaching Joseph was a privilege and a pleasure. As a tutor, it is very rewarding to see one’s tutees master new techniques and this was certainly the case with Joe. Sharon also deserves a lot of credit. The whole process can be extremely stressful on parents and I thought she handled it extremely well. I wish them both the best of luck in the future!
The ‘Exam Papers Plus’ team