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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.


Is Your Child ready for the Trafford Grammar School Exams?

Monday, June 12th, 2017

With just 12 weeks to go until the exams themselves – and a fortnight until most application deadlines – 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 for Boys sets its entrance exams using GL Assessment comprising of Maths, English, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning – with a creative writing element too.
  • Similarly, St Ambrose College uses GL Assessment papers as well – although it sets Arithmetic, Verbal Reasoning and English tests.
  • Loreto Grammar, meanwhile, follows a similar pattern except it creates its own traditional (non multiple-choice) Maths paper.

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.


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.

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.


Last minute grammar entry changes

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Earlier this year, Altrincham Grammar School for Girls in Cheshire replaced the Non-Verbal Reasoning paper with a new English/literacy assessment.

For children applying for September 2015 entry, this decision meant they didn’t need to study a largely unfamiliar discipline not taught across the board in schools.

Latest news: it’s all change again

Following a consultation into the proposed changes, Altrincham Grammar School for Girls has dropped the English paper proposal and reverted to the original entrance exam arrangements.

What does this mean for you?

The entrance test this coming September 2014 will follow the previous years’ format:

  • A 20 minute Non-Verbal Reasoning (NVR) paper
  • A 50 minute Verbal Reasoning paper
  • A 50 minute Maths paper

Though this is a last minute change, there is still plenty of time to get your head around NVR basics.

Essential summer prep

Non-verbal reasoning tests your ability to solve picture and diagram puzzles. To do well, you need to know how shapes change, how to spot patterns, and understand codes for figures.

Stuck? Not sure how to make the most of the time left?

Simply call us at 121 Home Tutors for some  expert 11 plus or entrance exam support during the summer holiday. With specialist tutors from Manchester to Cheshire available, we can help your child be ready for September in no time.

CEM test instead of 11+

Monday, March 17th, 2014

If your child is going to sit the 11+ (11 plus) in the next few months or next year you might have heard about changes to the testing.  Over the last couple of years there have been calls to stop the 11 plus because some people think it favours children whose parents can afford tutoring.

At Durham University the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring has been commissioned to design this new test for grammar school entry (currently known as the CEM 11+).  Although the tests vary by region and school there are a number of similarities.

The test makes a number of changes to the existing 11 plus including less focus on non-verbal reasoning. You can read about the differences in detail here.

It is likely that many children will still need help in preparing for entrance exams and 11+, often the issues are to do with confidence and subject knowledge rather than a particular ‘testing style’.

If you’d like to know more about CEM style or 11 plus testing then call 121 Home Tutors today. We specialise in helping students pass entrance exams for Manchester and Cheshire grammar schools.

The end of non-verbal reasoning tests?

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

We’ve recently heard that Altrincham Grammar School for Girls, in Cheshire is changing their entrance test.

For students applying for entry in September 2015 (or beyond) they have decided to remove the non-verbal reasoning paper. This decision has been taken because non-verbal reasoning isn’t something that is taught as standard in schools. In our experience many students were ‘caught out’ by this unfamiliar subject and often spent a good part of their entrance exam (11+) tutoring on this area.

The changes are still in the consultation phase but it looks likely that there will be more emphasis on English and literacy skills. The entrance exam (11 plus) will probably now involve a multiple-choice English assessment.

We’ve already had a number of enquiries about English and literacy testing for entrance exams as rumours are that other grammar schools in Manchester and Cheshire (Stretford, Sale etc) may also decide not to continue with non-verbal reasoning and add an English component.

If you’d like to chat to us about entrance exams, and literacy and English assessment for grammar schools in Manchester and Cheshire then contact 121 Home Tutors today.


The end of the 11+?

Friday, July 5th, 2013

Chelmsford County High School for Girls recently announced they will be replacing the 11+ (11-plus) with a new selection system. The headmistress of the school took this step because she felt the existing 11-plus discouraged girls from applying because their parents couldn’t afford the tutoring required. The new test is designed to be ‘tutor proof’, meaning everyone who applies has a fair chance.  Other schools in the south of England have made similar decisions after seeing a tutoring and coaching culture develop.

The tests that are being used to replace the 11+ are supposedly more unpredictable, and able to distinguish those who are naturally bright from those who have been intensively tutored. Our concern is that rather than creating less demand for tutoring the unpredictable nature of the test will increase the need for tutors.  These schools are not stopping selection just changing they way they do it. Selection on academic ability must always require some testing, for which there will (and always has been) tutoring.

We haven’t yet heard of the 11 plus style selection tests being scrapped or replaced in Manchester or Cheshire but we will watch closely what is happening in the rest of the UK. Manchester Grammar School do carry out an assessment day and interview as part of their selection to try and  lessen the focus on tutoring to get a place.

We do agree that parents panic when it comes to selection and the 11+. Over the last few years we have had enquiries for younger children. This seems to be because parents are told by school or other parents that the ‘best’ tutors are booked up years in advance (this usually isn’t the case) and they need to get their name down. We do agree that pressure at such a young age isn’t ideal and much of the ‘preparation’ work with younger children should be done at home in a fun way.

If you’d like to know more about 11 plus (11+) tutoring for Trafford and other Manchester grammar schools call us today.