Understanding the expectations of Maths in the 11 Plus
11 Plus Maths is a staple of every child’s experience throughout years 5-7 of school, whether they sit an ISEB 11 Plus, Common Entrance Paper or a pre-test for 13 Plus entry.
Below you will find advice on the range of 11 Plus Maths exams that can be offered, which topics are key to revise and advice on what senior schools are expecting from a student at 11 Plus level and how best to prepare for that
ISEB 11 Plus Maths Common Entrance
This test is primarily for students entering senior school in Year 7. You can find more general information in Keystone’s Blog: The 11 Plus Guide
For Maths, the paper is 60 minutes long and students are expected to answer on a range of topics (see below). Calculators are not allowed and students are expected to show clear, neat working as well as good working mental arithmetic.
11 Plus Maths Pre-Test
There are also a range of pre-tests schools might ask a student to do at 11 Plus before entry to a senior school in Years 7,8 or 9. You can find more general information about the range of tests in Keystone’s Blog: A Guide to Computerised Pre Tests
Since these tests are mostly computerised (there are some exceptions) and often rely on multiple (there are some exceptions), they rely more heavily on correct answers as opposed to a neat layout of work. However, this is still an important discipline to practice as students will need to display working if they go on to sit the 13 Plus Common Entrance.
Students are often given pencil and paper to use during the test while mental maths skills are very useful for computerised tests, it is important not to over-rely on them!
Core Maths Skills for the 11 Plus
Whilst testing a range of foundational topics which will be important for building towards senior school maths, the 11+ examinations are also testing core mathematical skills of students.
Mental arithmetic is particularly important, both addition and subtraction, but also an excellent knowledge of times tables and the fundamentals of fractions and decimals. These topics, though also tested in and of themselves, crop up again and again throughout 11+ papers and therefore should be a starting point for a student’s revision.
In addition to this, the 11+ is looking for good exam technique skills such as the following:
- clear and legible working
- reading the question
- writing down the correct units of measurement
- leaving the answer in the answer space
- checking over your work
All of these are vital for success in the 11 Plus exams, particularly in the written papers such as the ISEB 11 Plus Common Entrance and it is well worth your time practicing them and improving on any weak areas.
How to prepare for the 11 Plus Maths Exam
Aside from the core skills above, you can best prepare for 11 Plus maths examinations in the following ways:
Ensure that the methodology for each of the topics below is fully understood. While it is a great first step to know how to solve problems from each of the following topics, it is also important to understand why we use the mathematical methods we do and how to spot where to use them when the questions look different.
Common Areas of Difficulty
While every student is different, there are some topics at 11+ that consistently cause students issues in the exam and it can be worth making sure these are extra secure. Some common ‘favourites’ include:
- Nets of Cubes/Cuboids
- Properties of 2D and 3D shapes
- Forming algebra expressions
- Ratio Word Questions
- Reading Pie Charts
Knowing the methodology for each of the topics is very useful but so too is practicing these topics with a variety of questions at different levels of difficulty. Most important of all to practice are…
Much like the common difficult topics above, long, multi-step word questions at 11 Plus often cause the most pain and mark deductions for students and therefore are worth spending lots of time on.
Students should try to break down word questions into their core components and ask the following information of complicated questions:
- What topic(s) or method(s) do I think this question will draw upon?
- What is the key numerical information that I can highlight?
- What information is not necessary to answer the question?
- What order should I do the steps in this question?
When practicing word questions, it is also worthwhile paying even more attention to the layout of your work; if you lay each of your steps out clearly and in order, it will be not only easier for the examiner to follow but will help you tackle later word questions more methodically.
Topics for 11 Plus Maths
The 11 Plus Maths examinations draw their questions from the following topics.
Four Operations (Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division)
Using negative numbers
Rounding (whole numbers and decimals)
Properties of Number: Factors, Multiples, Primes, Squares, Cubes
Finding missing numbers
Four Operations with Fractions
Converting and Ordering Fractions/Decimals/Percentages
Adding and multiplying Decimals
Finding and expressing a percentage and percentage increase
Sharing out a number
Unequal shares represented as fractions
Conversion of metric measurements
Knowledge of imperial measurements (including Miles:Km Ratio)
Perimeter and Area (Quadrilaterals, Triangles and estimates of irregular shapes)
Measuring time and temperature
Knowledge of 2D and 3D shapes and their properties
Angles (triangle, straight line, parallel lines, quadrilateral)
Transformations (reflection, rotation and translation)
Knowledge and use of co-ordinates on a grid
Drawing nets of cubes and cuboids
Solving simple equations
Trial and Improvement Simultaneous Equations
Expressing basic probability as a fraction
Expressing probability on a probability line
Reading line and conversion graphs
Reading time and distance tables
Reading pie charts
Tally and Frequency tables
Averages (Mode, Range, Mean, Median)
Drawing Bar charts
11 Plus Maths Tuition
Each year Keystone supports many students preparing for the 11 Plus. The 11 Plus Maths tutors we represent are experienced in the intricacies of the 11 Plus exams and how they differ between schools' assessments. We would normally recommend that preparation begins around 12 – 18 months before the exams.
For more details on how Keystone can help with 11 Plus preparation, please call the office for a chat with one of our client managers, or contact us via our request a tutor form.