How to use 11 Plus Lifeline resources for Maths, English Comprehension, Writing & Reasoning

Seven suggestions to make your child’s 11-plus preparation stress-free and effective

Too much 11-plus advice!
Robert Lomax
Robert is a teacher and educational author. His books and online materials are popular in the UK and internationally. For a full biography, click here.

T his article explains how to prepare for the 11-plus exam most effectively, using English comprehension, creative writing, maths and reasoning resources from 11 Plus Lifeline.

If you aren’t a member yet but would like to give the service a try, there is a no questions asked, one month money-back guarantee. (If your child’s exam is three weeks away, and you want to use our materials for that time and then claim a refund, we don’t have a problem with that!)

1 – Use each paper’s solution pages properly

Don't cut corners in 11-plus preparation

Every 11 Plus Lifeline paper comes with a full set of solutions. These are more thorough than anything you’ll find elsewhere. Each question has a full example answer showing all the necessary techniques, a step-by-step walk-through and a mark scheme.

Some parents make the mistake of printing only the questions, then coming back to check the solution pages on their computer: just using them as a mark scheme, in other words.

If you do this, you’re missing out on an important learning opportunity.

The best possible approach looks like this:

Working Through A Practice Paper

1) Print the practice paper and the mark scheme. You might like to print two copies of the paper, ready for step 4.

2) Ask your child to complete the paper, working slowly unless there is a time limit (see my comments about this further on), and always carefully.

3) Together, go through your child’s own answers and my solutions.

Don’t just think about how many marks to give an answer: discuss how it is different from the example answer, and how it is similar.

Underline important ideas in the solutions, and compare them to features of your child’s work.

What could your child do differently? Which key skills are they getting the hang of, and which ones need more practice?

4) Ask them to repeat those questions which they could improve – but probably not the same day!

If they feel confident that they know what they’re doing, they can have a go without the solution pages.

If they feel less sure, ask them to work with the example answers next to them.

They should try to copy the approach of the example answer, but putting their own stamp on it.

If they work systematically like this, your child will learn the greatest possible amount from each task.

Repeating answers is FAR more effective than always writing new ones. Otherwise, students spend a large amount of time just practising their mistakes!

This video shows how to use my 11+ resources effectively.

I recommend watching it with the sound on. You can also choose to view it in fullscreen mode.

There’s more information about my resources on the 11 Plus Lifeline page. 

2 – Move slowly

Move through your exam preparation slowly

Rushing from paper to paper is a very bad idea.

This way, children are likely to keep making the same mistakes and become frustrated.

Take time to help your child learn all the important lessons from a paper – even if they can’t quite reproduce everything by themselves yet.

Also, take time to give your child time off! If they feel that 11-plus practice is dominating their life, they’ll resent it, and that’s no good for their happiness, your relationship with them – or their exam performance.

One thing I ought to add here is that you must be very cautious about setting time limits for practice papers – but I’ll discuss that a bit later.


3 – Think about skills, not marks

11-plus is easier than unicycling

11 Plus Lifeline papers come in a wide range of styles, and are set at different levels. That’s why they have labels such as “standard”, “challenging”, “ISEB-style”, “CSSE standard” and so on.

This means that comparing your child’s mark in one paper with their mark in another isn’t always useful.

Instead, it’s much more important to focus on skills.

If they do something right in this week’s paper which they got wrong last week, shower them with praise!

And don’t worry if their overall mark in this paper is worse.

The following video shows how I mark students’ creative writing. It might give you some useful ideas about the sort of skills to highlight.

You can turn on subtitles by clicking the three dots or the subtitles symbol in the bottom-right corner of the video. You can also choose to watch in fullscreen mode.

If you’re interested in sending me your child’s work for marking and detailed advice, have a look at the 11 Plus Lifeline page on this website, or send me an email.

4 – Keep going back to old papers, and old questions

Training hard for 11-plus

It’s tempting always to think about the next paper.

Some children (it’s surprising, but true) look forward to their weekly Lifeline email.

They want to see how they can do in the next paper, and they enjoy the feeling that they are learning.

They’re proud of how quickly their school marks are getting better, and the way that their teachers are asking them how they suddenly learnt so many new skills!

However, there’s a reason why you get your Lifeline papers once a week:

It gives your child the right balance between working on new materials, and having time to consolidate their learning.

Few things are more useful than returning to old papers – perhaps from last week, or perhaps from six months ago. There are two reasons for this:

1) As your child develops their skills, they’ll find that the things they once struggled with will come more naturally to them.

An old piece of work will still be partly present in their memory. As they write a better answer than they did the first time, they will still have a rough memory of what they did before:

“Ah … So where I did that, I now understand that I need to do this!”

This thought process will help fix the most important 11-plus skills in your child’s mind forever.

2) Nothing is better for a child’s confidence than the realisation that they have already improved.

Week by week, they might struggle to identify their progress.

But when they go back to a paper which they once found difficult, and discover that now it’s easy, they will have no doubt that they are doing brilliantly.

5 – Don’t become obsessed with one style of paper

Too many 11-plus maths papers

Parents often get in touch with questions like this:

Can you just send me papers which are relevant to Bogsneth Heath Insanely Competitive Secondary School?

I completely understand where they are coming from: they want their child to have the most focused exam preparation possible.

As far as they’re concerned, all-round education can happen once their son or daughter has got into Bogsneth Heath!

However, I’m absolutely certain that this approach to 11-plus preparation is wrong – and all my experience backs that up.

I usually reply by saying something like this:

Dear Mr Baggins,


Bogsneth Heath is an excellent school, so I can understand why you’re so keen on your child going there.


Their exams are in the Bogsneth 11- Plus Standard Format: there are lots of papers in 11 Plus Lifeline which will teach your child to be comfortable with this type of exam.

(This is almost always true, because 11 Plus Lifeline includes a wide range of paper styles.)

However, I strongly recommend that you don’t just focus on practising one kind of exam – even if there are only three months to go till the tests.


If your child repeatedly works with one paper style, they will lose the flexibility needed to respond to different challenges.


Even if the exam for Bogsneth Heath is similar this year to how it was last time, it’s always quite likely that they will throw a few different things in.


If your child has been working on paper after paper in the same style, even small differences risk confusing them.


Indeed, it’s possible that they won’t even notice when a question is different: they’ll make a complete mess of things by writing an answer to the question which they expect to see, rather than the one that’s in front of them!


If you want your child to think intelligently in the exam, weighing the questions up properly and responding to each one in the very best way, by far the best way to achieve this is to expose them to the widest possible range of question styles.


If a child is preparing for a grammar school 11-plus exam, let them sweat a little as they work on some difficult independent school papers!


If a child is getting ready for a very tough set of tests for a school like St Paul’s Girls’ or Manchester Grammar, challenge them with an easier, more conventional paper, and see whether they can hoover up all the marks without making silly mistakes!


This is such an important 11-plus skill, but it is easily forgotten.


If an exam is going to be multiple-choice, children should learn to think in detail about how to analyse a comprehension text, by working on papers with written answers.


If they will sit a multiple-choice maths exam, it’s especially important to work on written-answer papers which teach them how to structure their working properly.


They will get many, many more marks in their multiple-choice exam if they have this skill.


Working with a mix of styles is FAR more useful than just practising multiple-choice papers.


On the other hand, candidates for written-answer exams gain a huge amount from multiple-choice practice:


By stripping away all the difficulties to do with how to stucture an answer, how to choose evidence, how to avoid spelling mistakes, and so on, multiple-choice practice makes them focus on the text itself: thinking about it in detail, logically weighing up the things it might mean.


Finally – and this might not need saying – creative writing practice is absolutely invaluable, even if it won’t be in your child’s exam.


It will improve their writing skills, and therefore lift their marks in any kind of English test. What’s more, it will teach them to analyse other texts better, because they will understand the sorts of decisions that authors have to make: it’s only possible to discuss a piece of writing well if you know what it feels like to write.


In other words: for every practice paper you work on which is very close to the Bogsneth Heath style, work on two which are different!


If you do this, your child will have the best possible chance of getting a place there.


With best wishes,



Once I make these points to parents, more often than not they agree with me.

Indeed, they’re often grateful to discover that they won’t have to put their child through weeks of mind-crushing exam cramming in one school’s style.

6 – Set medium-term goals

11-plus goals

It’s important to have goals.

Without something to work towards, what motivates us to get up each morning?

However, there are two big goal-setting mistakes which parents make when it comes to 11-plus.

Mistake Number 1: Focusing on the exam

It might seem natural to say this to your child:

“You must work harder this week if you want to pass the exam.”

However, it’s rarely a good idea.

The main problem is that for a 9 or 10-year-old child, an exam six months away probably seems as distant as something in five years’ time would to you.

Six months is a substantial proportion of their life so far!

Something which seems so far away is unlikely to motivate them.

In fact, the more you mention the exam, the more likely they are to think something like this:

“You mean, I’m going to be doing practice like this for all that time?”

Another problem with focusing on the exam is that it builds up pressure.

If children are going to work effectively – and even more importantly, if they are going to be happy people – they have to know that their life will be fine, whether they pass or fail.

Talking often about the exam doesn’t help with this.

Mistake Number 2: Setting short-term goals

On the other hand, it isn’t very useful to say things like this:

“I just want you to do 5% better in this week’s paper than last week.”

This sounds very reasonable … but as I explained in point 3, 11 Plus Lifeline papers have a wide variety of difficulty levels.

What if this week’s paper is harder than last week’s?

Besides, learning isn’t linear. We all want a child’s improvement to look like this:

Linear learning

… but in reality, it will almost certainly look more like this:

11+ exam preparation: the reality

There’s no point making a child feel bad, just because right now they happen to be in one of the dips in the graph.

So what should I do, then?

Actually, this is fairly simple:

Set medium-term goals.

In other words, agree with your child which skills they should be focusing on, and set them a goal (for example, a month’s time) for showing clear progress – but not perfection – in these areas.

Set a more measurable target from time to time, by all means: for instance, if they are shortly going to do a Lifeline paper in the same style as another they did a couple of months ago, challenge them to get a higher score. 

In this way, you’re still focusing on medium-term achievement: the improvement from one paper in a particular style to another, with a few weeks in between. 

7 – Be cautious about setting time limits

Don't time 11-plus papers too often.

A sadly common pattern of 11 plus preparation looks like this:

1) The exam is a few months away, so a child’s parents start setting them timed past papers.

2) The child’s marks are alarming: they don’t finish the paper, there are lots of silly mistakes, their working-out is inadequate, and so on.

3) Their parents panic, so they start setting more and more timed papers. “There’s no time for messing around now,” they think. “We obviously started with timed practice far too late. Now she/he needs all the exam practice we can provide, and we’ll keep going till their marks are good enough.”

4) Instead of getting better, the child’s marks get worse.

5) They don’t pass the exam, and because of the amount of work, stress and criticism they have had to suffer during their preparation, this is a horrible blow to their confidence which stays with them for years.

This story plays itself out in families all over the country.

If some elements of what I’ve described sound a little too familiar, it isn’t something to feel guilty about. These things usually happen when everybody is acting with the best of intentions.

Above all else: once you understand what’s going wrong, it isn’t difficult to put things right.

The greatest problem is usually the timed practice itself.

– It’s possible to practise answering a question really well, by spending time analysing the question, carefully structuring your answer, and reviewing it after it has been written.

– It’s possible to practise answering a question quickly, by moving through the steps at an accelerated pace, trusting the instincts you’ve picked up through your work in the past.

– But it’s hardly ever possible to practise both at the same time, because the whole point of practising speed is that you cut out elements of the question-answering thought process

In other words, you rely on a whole range of shortcuts which are only safe if they have been acquired through meticulous preparation.

If children learn to work quickly while there are basic gaps in their skills, they are likely to become better and better – more and more efficient – at making their favourite mistakes.

The shortcuts they develop will be shortcuts over the edge of a cliff.

Beware of exam preparation shortcuts

To cut a long story short: problems with finishing an exam in time are almost always caused by basic gaps in knowledge (times tables?), or by skills which need more work (using quotations in a comprehension answer?).

They right way to deal with these things is to slow    right    down    :

If a timed paper goes wrong:

1) Identify the problems.

2) Devote all necessary time to putting them right.

3) Try the paper again, not timed.

4) Do a different but similar paper, not timed.

5) When they feel more confident, try another timed paper.

… And if this paper goes wrong, start again from number 1!

If you take this approach, timed exam performance should develop solidly and also quite quickly.

More importantly, everyone will be happier!

If you found this post useful or if you have a question about 11 Plus Lifeline, please leave a comment below! I’d love to have your feedback. (Tick the “Receive email updates” box to get an email when I reply.)

According to Tutorful, 11 Plus Lifeline is “the gold standard for independent and grammar school 11-plus preparation”.


  1. Robert

    If you have any questions, I’ll be delighted to answer them. Just leave a comment here: I’ll reply very soon.

    • Rachel Pattenden

      Hi Robert,

      My youngest daughter is 7 and is about to go into year 3 in September. Is that too early to start tutoring, prepping her for 11+ (and overall support generally)? If not, how is it best to start?


      Rachel Pattenden

      • Robert

        It’s a good question. To cut a long answer short: Yes.

        That’s the age for encouraging a love of story writing, for teaching excellent times tables, and so on. If you want to think of these things as 11-plus preparation, of course they are – alongside all the other, more important benefits which they bring.

        However, I wouldn’t go near anything that looks like exam preparation to a child until they are within 18 months (more or less) of their exams. Otherwise, the likely effects are burnout, and a sense that the purpose of learning is to pass exams – which would be a terrible lesson to instil in somebody of that age.

        • Rachel Pattenden

          So Carol Vorderman, Bond books etc. for 6-7, 7-8 yr olds are a waste of time?

          • Robert

            Hi Rachel,

            I think between us we might be mixing two things up.

            Your initial question asked about prepping for 11+, which I would stay well away from at that age.

            However, your follow-up question looks more like “Should I help to work on my child’s core skills at home?” to me, which is another matter. The books you mention are likely to be focused on basic maths knowledge, etc. (rather than having anything specifically to do with exam prep), and that can be a constructive thing to help with.

            However, only do it if it’s fun and productive. Otherwise it’s probably worse than pointless. I would also strongly encourage working together and comparing answers sometimes, especially when a child is young.

            I’d also add that books like this are a useful supplement to the good old miseries of times tables and spelling lists – but they aren’t a substitute.

            I hope that’s a bit clearer!

            • Rachel Pattenden

              Thanks ever so much for your feedback Robert. That’s really helpful. We have a number of maths/times tables games and I’ve got a book to go over her KS1 tables before she starts KS2 for the holidays so she can be confident in those before she moves forward. I’ll definitely be using your 11+ resources when he time comes but in the meantime, aim to give her a good all round strong base before that time comes.

              • Robert

                Let me know how it goes! Good luck to both of you.

      • PP

        I’m a 11 plus tutor for Year 4s and 5s and would like to be sent some English Comprehension papers every week with answers. Am I at the right place ? How do I go about it?

        • Robert

          Hello! You are in the right place, and you can sign up here.

          Please bear in mind that one subscription is licensed for use with one child. However, I will be delighted to offer you a substantial discount code to share with your students (and indeed for your own use as a teacher), so that they can take out their own memberships and work on the resources with you. If this is of interest, please get in touch.

          Let me know if you have any questions.


          • PP

            Hi Robert Thanks. Will it be one paper per week per subscription? So if I need 5 different comprehension papers every week, I would need 5 subscriptions?

            • Robert

              If you had 5 subscriptions, you would get the same paper(s) five times each week!

        • Naima Tariq

          Hi Robert.

          My daughter is in year 5 and preparing for CSSE as well as FCSE. I feel that we are going a bit haphazard as I am still unsure about the various topics in syllabus that we need to cover in 11 plus exams for English and maths and to what depth. I understand its the KS2 curriculum which we need to follow but still no topics are mentioned. Can you please guide

          • Robert Lomax

            It’s quite tricky to break the syllabus down into distinct topics, though you can find up-to-date KS2 curriculums on the Department of Education website. However, the best approach for 11+ is generally to work carefully through practice papers and past papers, and use these to identify topics that need more attention. The knowledge is more likely to stick in this way – less likely to be forgotten – than if you revise each topic separately for a couple of weeks.
            This is, incidentally, what 11 Plus Lifeline is designed to help with!

    • Jacqueline Wheeler

      Hi Robert,
      I just read through your piece here and, as another tutor, I highly commend you for all your advice! It is spot on and I recognise the concerns parents have and how, with all the best intentions, they can follow strategies that are actually damaging. It’s very tough being a parent through this process and people need good, sensible and effective guidance.

      • Robert

        Thanks Jacqueline. Your endorsement is very encouraging.
        I hope I’ve said enough here about how parents can get away from the bad strategies and do things right!

    • Lakshmi

      Will you be able to guide the children for the interview of independent schools too?

    • Hema Shah

      Brilliant tips as always.

      • Robert


    • Ruth Wildish

      I’ve taught at Primary level for well over 30 years and have a degree in Developmental Psychology. I’m hugely impressed by your whole, detailed approach with its rigorous underpinnings.

      • Robert

        Thank you. That’s a great compliment, and I really appreciate it.

    • Dr Z Ansari

      Hi Robert,

      Really useful article. Lots of valuable tips. As a subscriber, I have already seen an improvement in my child’s comprehension skills.

      The papers are really interesting and appropriately challenging. Even I got a question wrong!


      • Robert

        That’s wonderful feedback. Thank you!

    • Joohee

      I just registered Silver ? Can I print only question pages ? Just wondering answer parts can see on tablet ?

      I am so glad to read this article. We are already getting pressure to my daughter and also to us !!!

      We’ll try to look further and be patient.

      My daughter is year 4.

      Do you think this test papers could be really hard for year 4 ? I was impressed with your details answers you prepared.

      I look forward to receiving new test paper tomorrow ??

      • Robert

        Hi Joohee!
        I’m glad the article was useful.
        When you print, your computer will let you choose which pages you want. It’s fine to look at the answers on the tablet, but do make sure that your daughter takes the time to understand them properly.
        Some of the papers will be hard for Year 4 – but you can always save the harder ones for later.

    • John

      I live in Wales and only found out six weeks ago that it was possible for my sons to go to a grammar school in England. I have purchased bond books and then found your lessons, which I think are brilliant and even though I have a degree in engineering, have learnt things. Unfortunately we are limited on time. They are achieving 100% in maths, non verbal and verbal reasoning with very little help from me now. I’ve told them it’s not to worry, just try there best and do what they can, leave things that they are not sure about and go back to them if they have time. Please could you advise what’s the best approach for the last 20 days before the test.

      • Robert

        It’s sounds as though they are doing very well, and you are giving excellent advice. I think you should continue to trust your judgment: identify and work on their weaknesses, and keep throwing in things that they are already good at in order to keep their confidence high. Gradually increase the amount of timed work as the exams near, but don’t focus on timing at the expense of skills. Good luck to them!

  2. Ash

    Hi Robert,
    Good collection of classic mistakes we tend to make as parents. Will bear these in mind.


    • Robert

      Thanks Ash! I hadn’t really intended the post to be as a list of mistakes, but looking at it now I can see exactly what you mean …
      Nevertheless, I’m glad it’s useful.

    • Mayuri

      I love reading your articles.Its so well structured. We recently started 11 plus lifeline. Even though I so wish I had known about it earlier I am glad my son is getting to learn so much in such a short span. we look forward to your paper and he loves reading your answer and explanations. It’s the best material I have seen for 11 plus.

      • Robert

        Thank you Mayuri! That’s wonderful to hear.

  3. Emma Harvey

    My son will be sitting the AQE and GL in Northern Ireland. Would your papers be useful for him? He has been diagnosed with dyslexia and is having problems understanding word problems with 2/3 steps and is slow at processing questions. I have read your blog and also watched your videos, which I have found very helpful.

    Emma Harvey

    • Robert

      Hi Emma, I get questions along these lines quite often, and it’s never possible to give a full, honest answer without knowing the child concerned. As you’ll be aware from your own experience, special needs tend to be idiosyncratic, and dyslexia takes an infinite number of different forms.

      The simplest suggestion I can make is that you try my materials and see for yourself whether they are suitable. If you sign up to 11 Plus Lifeline, you can cancel for a full refund at any time within the first month. After that point, you can cancel at any time without paying a penny more than you already have.

      I hope that’s of some use.

  4. Fabio

    Hi Rob,
    what do you think about changing the tutor 4 months before the test if you don’t feel confident that he/she is the right person for your child?
    Thank you

    • Robert

      I don’t see anything wrong with this per se – indeed, a change of perspective can be helpful. The important thing is to have a clear sense of why you are making the change. Sometimes a very good teacher just isn’t right for a particular child, and this is nobody’s fault.

      One common mistake which you should be wary of is to micro-manage the next tutor, because you feel that time is short and you don’t want the same bad experience to repeat itself. You need to find somebody you like and trust, and then let them get on with their job.

      I often recommend that parents arrange (paid) trial lessons with perhaps three tutors, then discuss the lessons with their child and choose the person they relate to best. Of course, it’s important to be honest with the tutors about the fact that you are doing this.

      For other readers who may see this comment, I want to make clear that private tuition is unnecessary for many children. This isn’t a comment on your situation, but I know that when some parents read about other people employing tutors, they feel a great deal of pressure to do the same.

  5. Raj

    Please can you help with Sutton schools exam prep and type of papers and comprehension as well as narrative writing . As many people are in the dark and stressed. Thank you

    • Robert

      Hi Raj,
      I’ll aim to cover it in the future.
      In case it’s useful, I have a couple of articles about dealing with exam stress, here and here.

  6. Shabistha

    Thanks for the advice at this moment it seems to be helpful. Robert can you please help us with creative writing.

  7. ali

    Such great advice – thank you !

    • Robert

      I hope it makes a difference. Good luck!

  8. Anitha

    I am interested in signing for 11 plus

    • Robert

      Hi Anitha,

      You just need to go to Click on “Sign Up Now” under your preferred plan, enter your email address and credit/debit card details … and that’s it! Your first 11-plus paper will arrive by email straight away.

      Please reply to this if you have any more questions.


  9. Preeti Naidu

    Hi Robert,
    My daughter is in year 4 now. We are aiming for some of the grammar schools and independent City of London girls. When can I start 11plus lifeline and would that be useful for City of London girls 11plus test?

    • Robert

      Hi Preeti. It should be very useful. I usually recommend starting with Lifeline at the beginning of Year 5, so this August or September. Of course, you also have the option of subscribing earlier and printing the resources for when your daughter is ready.

  10. benedict molokwu

    i am preparing my son for the second preselection exam for eton he is in year 6 any help for reasource

    • Robert

      I would concentrate on the same key skills as for 11-plus at this stage: the higher-level skills come in later on. At this point, it’s about showing really good core Key Stage 2 knowledge and some mental agility. 11 Plus Lifeline is likely to be useful for you here, because the level is sometimes quite challenging, but also well-supported. This will be appropriate preparation for a competitive school such as Eton. Good luck!

  11. Payal

    Hi Robert
    We all are swamped with resources . Any advice on how to select the right resources in a gradually challenging and motivating manner ( apart from the age brackets).

    Even with regards to past papers, as a parent how do I ensure that my child is exposed to enough and not bogged down by excess.

    Any specific recommendations of what order should the papers be used?
    My child will be sitting Tiffin girls .
    Thank you.

    • Robert

      Hi Payal. It won’t surprise you when I say that my advice is to use 11 Plus Lifeline! Aside from my self-interest, this is because I have structured the course to include an appropriate range and frequency of papers, with a suitable mix of difficulties.

      It’s ideal for Tiffin, which has two stages of exams in different formats – both of which Lifeline prepares for.

  12. Mohit

    Hi Robert,

    My daughter is going to appear for 11+ exam this September 2019- though she is been preparing / working hard , almost spending 5+hrs of dedicated study time each day, still she is unable to cope up and not getting competitive marks in Mock exams ( have been getting around 50-60% in CEM / CSSE type test) .

    We are not sure what is missing, don’t want to pressurize her , she is already putting her best effort. Goggling found your site, not sure signing up be any beneficial and would helpful in revising ?

    • Robert

      Hello Mohit. I very much hope that my resources would be useful. If you sign up now with your daughter’s exams approaching in September, I will be able to send you some extra grammar school resources before the test. Remind me after you join.

      It sounds to me as though your daughter is getting through too much work, too quickly, and not taking enough time to learn all the skills from each exercise.

      Take time to review the solutions to each thing she does and discuss her mistakes. Then, if necessary, have another go. One hour spent like this will be far more useful than 5 hours (this is too much) doing exercise after exercise.

      Only ask her to do a third or a quarter of her papers with a time limit – if that. The rest of the time, she should work very carefully, thinking about her skills and her exam technique.

      I hope that helps a little.

      • Mohit

        Thank Robert for tue quick reply.I will sign up and remind you for exta help/ material.

        • Robert

          I hope you find 11 Plus Lifeline very useful. I look forward to having you as a subscriber!

  13. James Herbert

    Hi Robert,

    My daughter is currently in year 5. She has had tutoring for a while now – mainly because her Nan is a private tutor. She has recently been working on some 11+ and independent school papers and her results are a little mixed, ranging from 50-85% with the lower end more related to non verbal reasoning.

    Her Nan has an acquaintance that used to tutor for the Bexley tests. She suggested my daighter start using him one hour per week in addition to the hour lessons she receives from her Nan. My daughter has had 3 lessons with the new tutor so far. I don’t know if it is coincidence but she seems to be struggling with things that she could answer without even thinking about before she started with the new tutor. I don’t know if this is a blip or if she is getting confused by two different styles of teaching. I also don’t know if it is beneficial to have two tutors. I personally think it is overkill and since finding your site, I am more inclined to stick with her Nan for tutoring and signing up to your monthly programme to work on various papers. Any advice you could offer on the above would be great.



    • Robert

      Hi James.

      I’m afraid I can’t answer your question without knowing the people involved – especially your daughter. Were I to offer suggestions, they would risk leading you in the wrong direction, because every aspect of this depends heavily on the personalities involved.

      It is worth considering whether she’s struggling with certain things because the teaching is confusing; or because the teaching is good, so that she is really thinking about these things for the first time.

      If somebody re-taught you how to breathe from first principles, the very fact of making it conscious might well make you breathe less easily for a while, as well as feeling uncomfortable and frustrated – but in the end, you would probably do it more efficiently.

      This may, or may not, be relevant to your daughter’s situation.

      Again, whether two tutors is a help or a hindrance depends on the tutors and on the child.

      At risk of sounding trite, my main suggestion would be to ask your daughter what she feels about it. Of course, I don’t suggest including “do no work” as an option for discussion!

      It is worth bearing in mind that the path she chooses is the one she’s most likely to commit the necessary effort to, even if you might not have chosen it.

      I hope you find a good solution.

      • James

        Thanks for your reply, Robert.

        That is very helpful. I will have a discussion with my daughter!

        Many thanks


  14. Dolly Singh

    Information on Parents making common mistakes is so helpful and spot on. Thanks, Robert for the detailed writeup.

    Thanks, Dolly

    • Robert

      I’m glad my thoughts match your experience! Thank you for commenting.

  15. Heena

    Hi Robert, thanks for this article, I have come across it at the right time! My son is starting yr5 in September so I’ve subscribed to Lifeline a bit early. We are slowly working our way through the sample papers and the first few weeks of the Lifeline papers. My son does find them very challenging (as I would expect him to!), especially as he hasn’t learned all of the maths techniques, for example. I ask him to attempt questions that he should know how to do by himself and then we work through the solutions for the other questions. He seems to understand at that time but I am going to definitely take your tip of asking him to try the questions again on a different day so I can actually check if he has understood the concepts well!

    I think, as parents, we do try and rush through material thinking that it is better to cover as much as possible, but you’re right in that it is not very effective if the child hasn’t grasped the concepts well enough to apply them accurately, within the time pressure of the exam.

    • Robert

      Thank you Heena. I’m really glad that you’ve found my resources and advice useful.

  16. Julie Wren

    Hi Robert, thanks for the article – very positive and practical! I am Year 4 tutor of 11+ – what can you offer me with regard to past papers? The price as well, please.
    Many thanks.

  17. Rubia Nisar

    I need help Pleace I need free year 4 11+ practice paper my son Creative writing and Math week Pleace help me

  18. Oluchi Owushi

    Hi, We just moved from Spain and my son is now in year 5. Can he still prepare to take the exam this tear 2021? If yes. What is the first step to take? How many hours a day does he have to put in for his studies? Every other advice will be highly appreciated. Thanks

    • Robert

      You might like to look at some other articles on this blog, such as the one about how much homework to do. In summary, focus on quality rather than quantity of work!

      Your son might well be able to prepare for 2021 exams, but it depends on what level he’s already at.

      If I may say so, the first step could be to start working on the resources in 11 Plus Lifeline. That will help your son to get his skills organised. You also need to look at the websites of the schools that interest you, to learn about their exams and their application dates.

      Good luck!


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