School Common Entrance Exams

7+ or 11+?


Upon reflection of the last year, I have been thinking about the questions and queries I have received. One question that has been asked many times is ‘Should I put my child forward for the 7+ exam or wait until the 11+?’

With children across the country sitting these exams this month, there is no better time than now to explore this question further. Unfortunatly there isn’t a straight, simple answer. As a parent it is without doubt that you are looking for a sense of security for you, your children and your family. However, it is important to plan with flexibility. Five years down the line is a long time for a child of 4 years old, things change. As much as we want to, it is almost impossible to predict what the future holds. Having said that one of the first things to think about, when considering common entrance exams, is the type of school you want to send your child to; Pre-Prep, Prep, ‘all through’ schools and secondary schools.

What is the difference between these schools?

Pre-Prep schools tend to be rigorous. Most children will sit the 7+ to go on to top prep schools. Children start at almost 5 years old and have less than 2 years to prepare for the 7+ exams. They are set homework in Reception and begin to get into prep school mode.

Prep Schools. This is seen as the ideal education for 4 – 13 year olds. They can take it easier in the first few years engaging in more sports, art and music. They become more rigorous later when preparation for the 11+ begins.

All through Schools. The benefits of an ‘All through School’ are huge. Children start at almost 5 and stay on till 18.  You get long term certainty of a place. There is less worry at 11+ / 13+ although children may still need to take these exams to reach the minimum standard to maintain their place. Children spend time on a balanced and rich curriculum and therefore learn much more. Unfortunately there are not many All through Schools left. Queens Gate, Putney High, Francis Holland, Highgate High School are but a few.

5 things to consider when deciding on the 7+ or 11+

  1. Preferences as a Parent
  2. Personality of your child
  3. Schools
  4. Statistical Perspective
  5. Secondary School Options                                                                                                                                    

Preferences as a Parent Whether you are looking for a school that has high achieving students, a good or outstanding inspection report, or a school that will nurture, support your child’s learning needs and wellbeing, you must consider what your preferences are for your child’s education.

Personality of your child Taking the 7+ or the 11+ very much depends on your child and how ready they are. If they are happy to sit and study than it can work. However if your child is reluctant and shows little interest than the 7+ will be hard and will be more beneficial to wait for the 11+.

Schools Consider what type of school would be most suitable for your child. Think about the affordability, convenience, curriculum, extra-curricular activities and facilities available. Find out how your child’s learning needs will be met? Do your research!

Statistical Perspective At which entry points do schools have the biggest intake compared to applicants? What schools do children tend to go on to?

Secondary School Options This may seem a long way off for a 5 year old, however looking into this early and knowing what type of secondary school you want your child to go to will set them off on the right path.

Ultimately the question of whether to put your child forward for the 7+ or 11+ lies with you, the parent and your child. As with any decision, always go with your gut instincts – a mother knows best!

If you are looking to common entrance tuition or help with your school search please do get in contact.

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