Getting ready for 11 plus interviews is a difficult but very worthwhile area of preparation for any student hoping to secure a place at the school of their choice. In the article below, Keystone’s tutors have provided a range of good advice and guidance for anyone looking to show their full potential in these challenging interviews.
What is the interviewer looking for?
Before preparing for the 11 plus interview it is always worth putting yourself in the shoes of the interviewer and asking yourself what are they looking for. They will be likely thinking: if I offer this child a place they will be at the school for five years. What will this child contribute to the school? Will they be interested in studying and eager to learn new things? Will they be a good team player, able and willing to get on with others and enthusiastic about taking part in sports, music or drama? Does the child have any particular talents which it would be a delight for the school to develop?
Keystone Tutor Steph gives her top tips for preparing for the 11+
"To prepare for the 11+ I would recommend that children are allowed to engage in real life mathematical based problems eg working out a budget whilst shopping, measuring and putting together DIY etc.
I would also recommend quick weekly revision of fundamental maths skills such as times tables and key mathematical facts.
I strongly recommend regular reading or audiobook time on a daily basis with children allowed to pick a diverse range of good quality texts.”
Whilst it is impossible to predict exactly what you will be asked in the 11 plus interveiew, certain questions are very likely to come up. These questions tend to fall into two categories: Core and Extension.
Core 11 Plus interview questions
The areas that are often covered in shorter interviews (typically 15-20 minutes) include:
- Family (e.g. How do you like to spend time as a family?)
- Your school (e.g. What is your favourite thing about your current school?)
- Reading (e.g. Tell me about what you are reading at the moment)
- Academics (e.g. What are your favourite and least favourite subjects?)
- Extracurricular (e.g. What interests would you like to pursue further at your new school?)
Extension 11 Plus Interview Questions
In longer interviews, as well as covering the topics above, the following might be raised:
- Hobbies (e.g. What do you like to do in your free time?)
- Achievements (e.g. How would you like to be remembered?)
- Ambitions (e.g. What would you like to do in your adult life?)
- Strengths (e.g. How would your best friend describe you?)
- School choice (e.g. What is it about this school (the one being applied for) that most excites you?)
- Logical thinking (e.g. Is it better to be nice or right?)
- Task (e.g. Imagine I can’t see this picture. Describe it for me.)
- Poem (e.g. What do you think this poem is about?)
- Mental maths (e.g. If P = 4 + 2m, find ‘P’ when ‘m’ equals 6)
- Object (e.g. Tell me why you brought this object.)
- Piece of work (e.g. What are you most proud of in this work?)
Regularly asking these questions of your child can help them develop their thinking around these areas, as can challenging them on why and how they have arrived at their answers – as can letting your child ask you the same questions and giving them your own best answer!
Keystone Tutor Tom gives his top tips for preparing for the 11+
- “Don't start too late, as otherwise what can be a stressful period can become overly stressful.
- Be realistic: pick schools that you like, but which also fit the potential for your son/daughter, as determined not just by parents but also by teachers and tutors etc.
- Work out, in advance, what the demands of the different admissions procedures (in terms of testing) are, so that you can work out where energies in terms of preparation need to go.
- Keep on top of schoolwork and progress in school, as a good school report is helpful, and much of the content in the tests is geared towards school curricula - tutoring is an addition to this, not a replacement.
- Keep life going as normally as possible - variety, non schoolwork things etc. Don't go mad and overwork - it backfires. Maintain perspective - stay sane!
Oh and one more addition for 11+ /13+ - Keep reading! This will go very far in developing comprehension and creative writing skills.”
Do you have any questions you would like to ask us?
Do be prepared for this one and have prepared an enquiry leading to you being giving information about the school which you would genuinely like to receive: class sizes, dormitory sizes, can all students get into school teams, do trebles sing in the choir, how often does each house present a play, can the youngest students take part in the school play…
Finally: be yourself and try to enjoy the experience as much as possible!
Keystone Tutor Emily gives her top tip for preparing for the 11+
“As well as making sure students are secure in their knowledge of the syllabus, for the 11/13 plus examinations it is essential they work on exam technique, as students lose lots of marks through simple things such as not reading the question with enough care, or not double-checking their working. Also important is their ability to work under time pressure, and being able to allocate time appropriately during the exam.”
Tutors for 11+ Preparation
Each year Keystone supports many students preparing for the 11+. The tutors we represent are experienced in the intricacies of the 11+ exams and how they differ between schools' assessments. We would normally recommend that preparation begins around 12 – 18 months before the exams. Tutors will devise a programme tailored to the specific circumstances of the student.