When to start preparing your child for the 11 plus exams

At 11 Plus London we are often asked the question: ‘When should I start preparing my child for the 11 plus exams?’ Preparing your child too early could lead to burnout, but leaving it too late could mean your son/daughter ends up overwhelmed and unprepared. This article discusses whether there really is a ‘just right’ moment like the Earth’s Goldilocks zone for entrance exam preparation.

Is Year 3 the right time to start preparing for the 11 plus exams?

The risk of starting strict entrance exam preparations from Year 3 or earlier is that your child may burnout, however not encouraging any learning at all could mean your child will end up losing out. Therefore, we recommend light learning and homework in those early years, so children can develop a solid foundation in all subjects. Focusing on mastering mental arithmetic like number bonds and times tables will ensure your child develops the speed needed to work efficiently in the exams in later years.  In addition, encouraging your child to read regularly and reading with your child will develop their vocabulary, comprehension, working memory and focus. Our seasonal classes are ideal for children of this age; they are fun, engaging yet informative. If you would like your child to trial a lesson, please contact us here.

Is Year 4 the right time to start preparing for the 11 plus exams?

For most children, Year 4 is an ideal time to begin preparations for the 11 plus exams, as this will give children a reasonable 2 years to master the 11 plus syllabus, making the whole ordeal a marathon rather than a sprint. In Year 4 children can be introduced to the key topics in mathematics, practise the basic skills of comprehension, study writing techniques for creative writing and get accustomed to different reasoning questions. We recommend regular practice in all subjects at this age to cement understanding and develop speed. Our online preparations classes provide students the opportunity to follow a structured course with other students making exam preparations interactive and engaging.

Is Year 5 the right time to start preparing for the 11 plus exams?

Starting preparations from Year 5 will give your child around a year to master the skills needed to pass the 11 plus exams. For some children, this amount of time is sufficient, but for other children a year may not provide enough time for children to reach the richly interconnected deep knowledge needed to excel in the 11 plus exams. In addition, passing comprehension tests requires children to be well read so they can tackle different texts. If your child is not a good reader by Year 5, you will find it a challenge to improve their skills to the level required to pass the 11 plus exams. We recommend booking your child in for a free assessment and feedback, so we can offer you personalised recommendations to ensure your child has the best chance of success in the schools of your choice. 

Is Year 6 too late?

As many entrance exams are in January, we are often asked whether preparing a child from the start of Year 6 is too late? The answer is: it depends on your child’s current ability and the schools you are aiming for. This is why we offer free assessments and feedback to give you an honest opinion on the likelihood of your child passing the entrance exams for the schools of your choice.

Each child is an individual

There is no concrete right or wrong time to begin preparing your child. Each child is a unique individual. The right time depends on several unique factors including a child’s current academic ability, personality, maturity level, their ability to concentrate and your chosen potential schools. We encourage a holistic approach to learning – taking into account every aspect of life to find a balance to ensure the best results for the immediate future as well as those to be faced later. This is why we offer a free assessment for all new students, and take the opportunity to speak to parents before enrolment to ensure we offer the most appropriate advice depending on each child’s personal circumstances.


We feel honoured to have the opportunity to help parents in their entrance exam journey. If you would like us to write a blog post about a particular topic or answer a specific question, then please feel free to email us on info@11pluslondon.co.uk