Are you ready? The 11+ Countdown: 5 months to go

The Summer Holidays


What should I be doing over the summer break? How much time should my child be spending on English? On maths? On verbal reasoning?


Understandably, parents are worried about the big break in formal education between now and the start of September. Once September arrives, those 11+ exams are not far away at all!


But, first of all, please take a break.


That’s right! I will be offering you some study guidance below, but do not feel that a break is a waste of time. You and your children could certainly do with some relaxation, after a term of summer parties, tuition, school plays and the dreaded end-of-year-five-tests.


Everyone needs a couple of weeks to recharge and that’s what I recommend: two weeks of relaxation and four weeks of regular study.


Four weeks of regular study does not mean seven hours of work a day, but it does mean getting into a rhythm that will make the transition into year six less of a shock.


In terms of English preparation, I would recommend the following:


1) Daily homophone practise (two homophone pairs per day)

  • Write out the definitions of each pair of homophones

  • Write a grammatically correct sentence, using each homophone


A great sheet can be found here:


2) Twice weekly timed comprehension tests

  • CGP, Letts and Bond all have great comprehension practice books (just be careful to pick up a book for the correct age-group)


3) Daily vocabulary practise (two new words per day)

  • I recommend the vocabulary list found here:

  • Highlight all of the words you know the meanings of in green

  • HIghlight all the words you don’t know in orange

  • Whenever there is a x2 mark, it means that the word has two meanings. Write out both of the meanings

  • Each day learn the meanings of two new words. Write out each word with its definition and then use the word correctly in a sentence

  • At the end of the week, have someone test you on your fourteen new words


4) School entrance papers

  • Take a look for past papers on the websites of the schools you are applying to. Many provide sample papers. Alongside timed comprehension tests, I recommend one past paper per week


5) A weekly timed writing tests

  • Many sample questions are available online (simply search for ‘11+ writing questions’)

  • Make sure that you practise persuasive writing, writing discussion texts and writing about books, as well as writing stories!

  • You may be asked questions such as:

  1. Do you think the summer holidays are too short? Write a discussion piece, that shows both sides of the argument

  2. Write a letter to your teacher, persuading them to ban school uniform

  3. Write a short story about a jungle

  4. Describe a place you have visited

  5. Write about a book that taught you something important


  • The list is a long one, but the point is that *just* writing stories will not be enough!


6) Reading

  • Children should be reading for a minimum of thirty minutes each day


This long list can be broken down into a very simple formula:


One timed task per day (writing, comprehension or past-paper) + five mins homophones + five mins spellings + thirty mins reading


Ninety minutes of English per day, if those minutes cover the topics listed above, WILL be sufficient study.


A further sixty minutes of maths, and thirty minutes of verbal or non-verbal work will see all of the exam topics covered.


This schedule is by no means exclusive and is simply intended as a guide. Please adapt this as necessary and as suits the particular strengths and weaknesses of your child. There is a lot of support and advice online, and bookstores are filled with 11+ practice books, so feel free to use any or all of these resources over the break.


I look forward to hearing all about your summer holidays and I hope you have a wonderful time.


Aisha x