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Archive for the ‘Entrance Tests & 11+’ Category

Just how DO you improve your 11 Plus vocabulary?

Saturday, February 24th, 2018

Is your son or daughter preparing for a Common Entrance exam, the 11+, or grammar school entry this year?

One of the key skills you need is a breadth of vocabulary knowledge – certainly for the English papers as well as Verbal Reasoning.

You’ll know (if you’ve already bought practice papers) that the level of vocabulary required is quite advanced. Given that your child might not read enough challenging texts – including classic literature – let’s look at how you can help to stretch their vocabulary!

How to Master words

  1. Enjoy a classic book and movie together. Everyone loves Disney’s The Jungle Book! But has your child read Rudyard Kipling’s masterpiece? It’s a fab read – and full of stretchy language. Don’t forget to look up any new words you discover! Try The Hobbit, Treasure Island, or Robinson Crusoe..
  2. Play the synonym/antonym game. Download a blank board game template online, and start adding some verbs and adjectives. The idea is to land on the words, then award points for how many synonyms and then antonyms you can think of for each one.
  3. Dig that word! Another game. Pick a root word, then add as many prefixes and suffixes as you can. Take it in turns to see who can come up with the most! Try comfort, friend, point, kind, motor, judge…

  4. Practice makes perfect! Check out apps such as Word Builder. There’s all sorts of little gems in here to keep your child busy for ages.

Of course, passing any exam isn’t just about knowledge. It’s also about using different techniques, managing time and thinking fast on the spot.

That’s how our team of local entrance exam tutors can help. From Bramhall, Cheadle and Hulme, to Stockport or across Manchester and Cheshire, we’ve a fabulous entrance exam expert at the ready.

Get in touch today to have a chat about how one of our private 121 Home Tutors can support your child to success.


Ready to take on the 11+ competition?

Sunday, November 26th, 2017

Is your child sitting an entrance exam or the 11+ in the next year? Chances are that you are worried about whether your child will get a place or not? It’s common.

With fierce competition to get into top selective grammar and independent schools across Manchester and Cheshire, it’s essential to do a little homework into preparing your child for what lies ahead.

Many parents start the process by buying a shedload of practice papers and books for their child to wade through – hoping that this will suffice.

Unfortunately, repetitive exam practice – without clear direction – can do the opposite. Children often end up feeling confused and frustrated because they don’t know ‘why’ they’ve got something wrong – or ‘how’ to get it right.

As you know yourself, if you’ve ever scratched your head over a complex 11+ question, the answers are not always obvious.

Then, instead of feeling confident, children start thinking they can’t do it. Once that happens, any future school place could be in jeopardy.

So what is the answer?

How to build your child’s confidence for the best chance of success

  • To do well in any exam, you have to learn the right skills to maintain a high standard under timed conditions.
  • You also need to have a system in place where your child can learn from their mistakes. After all, nobody gets everything right first time.
  • That’s why it’s essential to help your child understand why they went wrong and how best to approach tricky questions. Books can help to a certain degree, though nothing beats the personal touch.
  • Best options are to either teach yourself how to tackle these entrance exams. This option will take time and effort – plus expense. Buying lots of self-teach texts and exam papers does mount up.
  • The other option is to arrange a course of personal tuition with a specialist entrance exam tutor. This option might help your child learn skills faster, and allow them to turn weak areas into strengths without losing confidence.

Chat about exam entrance tuition with a specialist

Considering entrance exam tuition and based in the Wilmslow to Didsbury area? Perhaps you live in Sale or Chorlton – or anywhere across Cheshire and Manchester – please contact Alison and her team here.

Is Your Child ready for the Trafford Grammar School Exams?

Monday, June 12th, 2017

With just 9 weeks to go until the exams themselves – and application deadlines looming – this is the best time of year to step up a gear with grammar school entry planning.

What is important at this stage? Knowing which schools set which exams.

Need-to-know School Entry Facts

  • Urmston, Stretford and Sale Grammar schools – as well as Altrincham Grammar for Girls – are part of the Trafford Grammar Schools’ CEM Consortium. This means your child will only need to sit the one set of exams if applying for more than one of these schools.
  • The Consortium use the Durham CEM multiple-choice exam format. Therefore, it’s essential your child gets to grip with Maths, Comprehension, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning techniques.
  • Check out this super useful Familiarisation booklet if your child is sitting the Trafford CEM exams.
  • Altrincham Grammar School for Boys sets its entrance exams using GL Assessment comprising of Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning – with a creative writing element  set by the school.
  • Loreto Grammar, meanwhile, follows a similar pattern of multiple choice (closed) GL tests in Verbal Reasoning and English, but creates its own traditional (closed) Maths paper.
  • St Ambrose College  sets its own exam papers.

Should I opt for Entrance Exam Tuition?

Certainly a question many local parents ask themselves this close to the Autumn term exams. Of course, if you have the time and expertise to support your child over the summer, then we’d say opt for that initially.

That said, if you feel a little out of your depth with some of these papers (and you wouldn’t be alone!), it can make the world of difference to book a series of lessons with an expert tutor.

Helping your child secure their skills, increased confidence and making every second count are just some of the benefits to 11+ private tuition.

If you are interested in hiring one of our wonderful home tutors from now until September, do get in touch with us fast.

Updated 10th July 2018

When should you start studying for grammar school entry?

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Is your child sitting the exams for 2017 entry into Manchester or Cheshire grammar schools in September? If so, it’s a great idea to start getting your child:

  1. Familiarised with the range of questions if sitting verbal and non-verbal reasoning papers
  2. Practising exam technique for some of the more challenging types of questions
  3. Testing themselves with practice papers to identify areas of weaknesses to work on
  4. Practising thinking under pressure against the clock
  5. Reading … lots. Short stories, novels, non-fiction. Anything to develop their vocabulary
  6. Looking up unknown words. A really fun way to do this is to use Word Hippo
  7. To be super observant… Get them to spot patterns and shapes in everyday things; write about places you visit together as a family; sharpen their times tables with Squeebles – a fun app

And if your child dislikes reading initially, try instead to hook their interest in words by downloading apps such as Word a Day – or take your pick from these *scrumdiddlyumptious word games!

Finally, try to reward progress and success to keep your child motivated. Too much pressure can switch them off. Always aim to balance hard work required with a sense of fun and challenge.

How to crack 11+ exams in half the time

It’s true: these tests don’t always test ability. They test how to think quickly on your feet – plus expect you to think logically, numerically, imaginatively, verbally and non-verbally within a short space of time.

If your child needs help juggling how to do this successfully, get in touch with us here at 1-2-1 Home Tutors. Our fantastic tuition team of 11+ specialists can offer term and holiday tuition across the Manchester area.

*A Roald Dahl fan? Check out more of his famous, made-up words here.

Is Your Child Cut Out for Grammar School?

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

The summer term is a busy time of year across Manchester and Cheshire as local grammar schools host open evenings for 2017 entry.

It’s a fantastic opportunity for parents and children to have a ‘taster’ of local Trafford schools such as Altrincham Grammar, Sale, Urmston and Stretford…

During opening evenings, you can chat to teachers and current pupils, as well as wander round to get a ‘feel’ for the school to see whether your child will feel right at home there.

Grammar schools tend to be smaller with more of a tighter community atmosphere than larger comprehensives. Plus grammar schools have a high work ethos, matched by enthusiasm for extra curricular sports and activities. Would your child enjoy that kind of challenge?

How to gain grammar school entry

Of course, gaining entry into a first choice school in Manchester or Cheshire is a worry for parents every year. Without doubt, the first hurdle is the entrance exam. Since many are in September 2016, parents often feel anxious now about competition for places next year.

The good news is you can plan ahead. Since Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning – and occasionally English – are tested, there is still time to help your child prepare for what lies ahead.

It’s not always about pure intellect; passing these exams within a tight timeframe means your child needs both confidence and technique. That’s why a skilled 11+ or entrance exam tutor really does make the world of difference.

Interested in term time or summer holiday tuition to give your child the best possible chance? Just call our 121 HomeTutors head office for a friendly chat!



What is Verbal Reasoning?

Monday, March 7th, 2016

If sitting the 11 or 13 plus exam (for 2017 entry) in the Manchester area, you need a brilliant grasp of verbal reasoning.

Verbal reasoning, in short, is word and language problem solving. That means you could be tested on vocabulary knowledge, grammar, spelling and word usage.

That’s just for starters. A verbal reasoning paper also tests your ability to spot patterns, apply logical thinking, and understand the relationship words have with each other.

Know your vocab!

Word knowledge is an area many 11 and 13+ students struggle with – mostly because of the way many questions are set. Often you have to:

  • Remove a letter from one word and place into another
  • Change the first word into the last, by changing one letter at a time
  • Spot prefixes or compound word patterns

Sometimes, questions are more cryptic. There are coded sequences to master where you have to decode words using numbers and letters. This means you need tip-top logical thinking, as well as James Bond code breaking skills!

Let the games begin

1. Play the dictionary game: close your eyes and put your finger on a word on a random page. Read its meaning, then think of a rhyme, synonym and antonym for it.

2. Play the group game: In two minutes, write down as many types of boat (steamer, ship, dinghy, barge…) Challenge yourself to all sorts of ‘types of…’ groups. Types of hats, trees, herbs, colours, footwear etc

3. Take the change a letter challenge. Pick a random four letter word and change a letter each time to form a new word. salt – halt – hall – ball – bill – sill – silt

Entrance exam tuition

The key to entrance exams is to think fast on your feet. Therefore, learning English, Maths and reasoning techniques is essential.  A one to one tutor can teach you all of these and more.

For entrance exam success in the Manchester and Cheshire area, call 1-2-1 Home Tutors.

Countdown to the Eleven Plus exam starts now!

Monday, August 24th, 2015

For many parents, the summer holiday is too long a break… Children often get out of the study habit, making it more difficult to get back into the school mindset come September.

With only a week before most schools re-open for the autumn term, and with 11+ exams looming, it can help to get back into the swing of things now.

Here are some practical suggestions to help your child get ahead from the word go:

  1. Check ahead! Check which papers each school sets. Some local Grammar and independent schools, for instance, don’t set a non-verbal reasoning element, while others still do. Some test English and comprehension, while others set a creative writing challenge on top. If you are applying for several schools, it makes sense to check this as soon as possible.
  2. Have a trial run! Download or buy some test papers to try out. Strict timing is what affects many children’s chances of gaining entry to their first-choice school. So why not try out some papers set to time? This can also help you spot and improve on weak areas well before the exams.
  3. Learn the basics! Though the majority of schools don’t release previous papers, the same topics/skills crop up year in year out. Revising English and Maths basics will help no end.

Remember, passing exams is more a question of confidence than anything. So make sure that any prep includes plenty of praise and encouragement.

Of course, if your child needs some last-minute support, or exam technique practise, give us a call.

Our trusty tutors, spanning Cheshire and Manchester, have oodles of experience in helping children like yours not just pass their 11+ exams, but gain entry to the school of their choice too.

Can you prep for the CEM Eleven Plus exams?

Monday, June 29th, 2015

You might not know, but many local Manchester and Cheshire Grammar schools have switched to CEM/Durham style entrance exams.

This means that if you are applying to sought after schools such as Altrincham Grammar School for Girls (AGSG) and Altrincham Boys Grammar (AGSB), it’s important to know what your son or daughter can expect in September.

First up, because the CEM board never publishes examination papers, there is a lot of unpredictability over exam content. This is why many parents approach us at 1-2-1 Home Tutors in Manchester to prepare their child for the autumn term exams.

It can certainly be a confusing time if you’re not sure what to expect. Here are three need-to-know pointers to steer you in the right direction:

The essentials…

  1. Durham 11+ exams usually focus on four key areas: Verbal reasoning (VR), Non-Verbal Reasoning (NVR), Maths and English.
  2. Papers are completed in strict time conditions with each section individually timed so children cannot go back to a section they missed. This alone adds pressure to get things right first time.
  3. Each 45 minute paper is broken down into three to four separate multi-choice sections. VR and NVR tend to measure potential and aptitude since these test questions are unfamiliar to children.

Urgent planning ahead:

Keep an eye on 2016 application deadlines. For Altrincham Grammar School for Girls, for instance, the deadline is 13th July! AGSB is August 21st.

Need summer holiday tuition?

To arrange 11+ tuition over the summer hols with one of of our expert entrance exam tutors, call us right now.


How to Beat Exam Stress

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Does exam pressure worry you? An NUT survey revealed that children in Year 2 upwards are getting more exam stressed than ever before – with some avoiding school all together!

How can you help your child overcome exam nerves? Whether sitting SATs, Entrance tests, GCSEs or A Levels, why not try these practical tips:

  • Get planning! Map out what the exam papers cover, dividing revision into manageable chunks.
  • Take breaks. Don’t sit revising for hours on end. Instead, balance work with play/free time. Get some fresh air! Do something active. Go to the cinema…
  • Have fun. Short bursts of brain training can keep motivation up: play word games, have competitions with friends, do 10 minute activities, create flash cards to learn from.
  • Tackle past papers against the clock! A great activity as it fine-tunes your timing, and helps identify tricky questions.
  • Praise praise praise! The end result can seem a long way off. So keep your child’s spirits up by reassuring and praising them – often.

Remember: exam success often depends on a child’s confidence. Plus, knowing the right technique is half the battle! That’s how we can help…

So worry no longer. At 121 Home Tutors, specialist teachers can prepare your child for those dreaded tests, inspiring them to try their best. After all, that’s all that matters…

Exams imminent? With just two months to go before children sit independent school exams in Manchester, we can help. Call us today!

How to choose a secondary school

Monday, October 20th, 2014

If you are one of hundreds of parents across Manchester and Cheshire choosing a secondary school for your child, you’ll know it can be a tough decision.

Nowadays, it’s not just a case of proximity. Although how near you live to the school gates is often an admissions criteria important to consider. With organised open days and glossy brochures aplenty, how do parents see the real picture?

  1. Visit the school. After presentations, wander round talking to teachers and pupils. Is there a relaxed, happy atmosphere? How do students interact with teachers? Pop into different classrooms to get a ‘feel’ for the learning environment.
  2. Listen to the grapevine. Parental talk at the school gate is often enlightening. While no school is perfect, speak to other parents whose children already attend there. Chatting at the school gates can be an eye-opener.
  3. Keep an open mind. Ofsted reports don’t always reflect the true picture. If you want statistics, far better to look through league tables. Focus on value-added stats and expected progress figures rather than A*-C percentages. Academic success is undoubtedly important. So do remember that any year’s results depend on that particular year’s cohort. Hence why it’s not ideal to determine a school’s worth on whether its grades have improved by a percentage!
  4. What’s extra? Schools are not exam factories. Check out extra-curricular clubs and opportunities beyond the classroom. What after-school facilities are there?
Finally, always ask: will my child fit in, and be happy there? Hope that’s helped…

By the way, if a place at your chosen school depends on an entrance exam, chat to 121 Home Tutors today. We’ve expert tutors ready to help…