Getting Started with the 11+ | Bond 11+

“I’ve overheard some of the parents talking about the 11+ and I know it’s a test, but other than that, I’m not really sure what it’s all about. The whole secondary school process seems confusing and I don’t know who to talk to about it. I’m not even sure what questions to ask!” – Parent

We know how daunting the 11+ can be for many parents and children, and many parents are unsure how to prepare for the 11+ exam. To help you, we’ve put together this guide, covering everything you need to know about the 11+ for parents – from when to start preparing to how to create a revision schedule.

You can also find more information on our About the 11+ page, and in our free leaflet The 11+ Exam: A Parent's Guide  a downloadable guide packed with helpful insights and advice to take you through every stage of the 11+ exam process.


Find out about the 11+ in your area

The 11+ exam is highly regionalised; the subjects covered and how your child will be tested will depend on where you live. It is important to establish when the 11+ is taken, which subjects are tested, what format the exams take and which exam board is used.

To find out exactly what the 11+ exam is like in your area and to give your child the best chance of passing the 11+, it is worth contacting your chosen schools directly.


Decide when to start preparing your child for the 11+

Ideally you should start to develop your child’s skills in Year 4 and have a year of focused practice in Year 5, before the 11+ exam is taken at the start of Year 6. If you have less than 12 months you will need to establish how much you have to do with your child in the time before the exam. Try not to panic and focus on devising a personal learning plan to optimise the time you have available.

There are suggested templates for 12 month, six month and three month action plans in the Bond Parents' Guide to the 11+, so it's worth getting a copy to help you structure your child's revision, no matter how much time you have before the exam.


Create a preparation plan for your child

Here are three steps to creating a preparation plan for the year before your child takes the 11+ exam.

  • Placement testTake the Bond Placement Test to find out how good your child’s English, maths, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning/spatial awareness skills and understanding are. Using the Bond Placement Test will help you understand your child’s strength and weaknesses so that you can focus their 11+ exam revision. Download the free Bond Placement Test now. (Requires free registration or login.)
  • Revision schedule – the Bond Placement Test results will help you work out which subjects your child needs to spend more time working on. Ask your child how much 11+ work they feel they can fit in each week in order to develop a realistic schedule that you and your child will be able to stick to. Download the free Bond Revision Planner to help you schedule your child’s 11+ revision. (Requires free registration or login.)
  • Schedule in exam practice – children need plenty of practice to help them develop the exam skills required to pass the 11+. The two major 11+ exam boards demand different things of your child so read about the differences in exam technique in our ‘11+ exam boards: CEM vs GL – what’s the difference?’ blog.


To tutor or not to tutor?

The decision to tutor is made for many different reasons. Some parents find their child is struggling with a specific area and so they use a tutor to tackle that particular issue; other parents feel that they just don’t have the time to prepare their child at home and so decide to use a tutor instead.

Equally, every year thousands of parents successfully home tutor their child for the 11+ exam – it really depends on the situation and what best suits your child.

Whatever route you decide to go down, here is some useful advice:

If you decide to tutor:


Find the right practice materials for your child

Bond is the leading provider of 11+ resources, having provided consolidation, revision and practice materials for the 11+ exam for over 50 years. Our wealth of 11+ publishing offers a comprehensive range of simple to use, affordable resources providing a complete learning programme for your child’s 11+ journey.

Our range includes:

  • Assessment papers – carefully graded practice papers providing essential practice for each question type in a realistic exam style
  • Test papers – matching the style, content and difficulty of the real 11+ exam these test papers enable realistic mock exam practice at home.
  • 10 Minute Tests – bite-sized tests for quick practice and revision, covering all the core skills plus motivating and fun puzzles
  • How to Do 11+ – step-by-step guidance for developing core skills with parent tips and practical activities
  • Parents' Guide to the 11+ – written by an experienced 11+ tutor, this essential manual offers a practical 4-step approach to guide you through the entire process
  • Bond Online – giving your child unlimited access to thousands of 11+ questions this interactive resource is a fun and engaging way of helping your child prepare for the 11+ exam

Find out more about the full range of Bond 11+ resources.