Riviera Tuition 11+ Mock Exams: Explained

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What is an 11+ mock exam?

I know some of you may have heard of them, but you might not necessarily know what they are. So I thought I was spending some time going through it with you. An 11-plus mock exam is what it says on the tin really. It is a practice 11 plus exam and it models the real thing.

We run these mock exams from March to September every year. This gives us a good six months of tutoring, doing some prep work on their skills, and developing their knowledge before we throw them into an exam. We never really test too early on because that’s only going to damage their confidence. You can book in for one of them, all of them, or ust a select few. It’s totally up to you what you think you would like your child to experience over those six months really. It’s a really good way for them to practice their skills in an exam setting.

Many children may do past papers at home maybe in the kitchen whilst someone is doing the washing up or making some dinner in the background. It’s very different coming in and having that quiet exam setting where it’s totally focused. You can see that other people are working around you; it’s quiet and it just allows them to experience what the exam is going to be like.

Small, friendly and relaxed exam groups

Our mocks can give you a really good sense of how they will perform in the real thing when they are tested in a proper exam situation rather than testing them at home. So it’s really good for them to experience that because they are still young and they don’t know what an exam looks like. Often the notion of an exam can be quite scary. What we do is we try and make it as friendly as possible so it is always me that runs the exams.

We have it in our classrooms at our tuition centre in Torquay. So we run it very much like the schools. Lots of grammar schools like Torquay Boys and Churston for instance split all of the children sitting the test in groups of between 10 to 15 children. And they all go off to classrooms around the school with a teacher so they’re sitting 11 plus in small classrooms in very small groups. It’s not a huge exam hall with loads of children crammed in.

This isn’t how the schools run the 11+, so it not how we run our mock exams. We use our classrooms and we probably have between 12 to 8 children per room. Having very small numbers, we keep it nice and friendly just like the real thing. When they do go in for their real 11 plus we’ve got rid of all those fears around a test situation before they’ve even got there. They will know beforehand it will be friendly and relaxed and there is nothing to worry about. Our mocks are a really useful tool as well to see how they’re competing against their peers. Unfortunately, the 11 plus is a competition. The children are all competing for a space against each other sadly, so we have to treat it as a competition. You will be able to visually see where they are in the rankings and how they are getting on amongst their peers. I will explain more about this below.


Personalised Feedback

As well as the scores you’ll also get personalised video feedback. I actually spend the time myself to go through every single child’s results. I will spot where things have maybe gone wrong and I will offer advice on what they need next. If you are spending the money on getting tutoring and spending all the time it takes on doing the homework and extra practice at home, then we think you deserve the personal touch.

It helps us too, if you get some feedback in March and I say, ” you need to work on percentages and fractions and I can see that you need to work on your speed and your timing”, then during lessons we can work on this. In the feedback, I will be aiming the narrative directly at your child, in a child-friendly way.  It’s something that they can watch and they can get feedback as well and be kind of part of the whole process.

Our 11+ Mock Papers

The mock will reflect the changes that have come into play this year (2023) in Torbay.  They are now created by the GL assessment and the schools buy these papers from GL Assessment and that’s what Torbay will be doing this year. We will obviously be writing our own papers but they have been very good year-on-year and worked well.  Luckily we taught and used the GL assessment when it was in the 11 plus about 10 years ago, so even though it has changed in Torbay we’ve already got all of the resources and mock papers from the previous time it was used. All of our mocks have been tweaked slightly so that they definitely cover what’s in the current 11-plus. The Maths paper will just be a simple 50-minute Maths paper and the English will cover what your child is currently studying, such as grammar problems and comprehension.

One of the advantages of the new GL Assessments is that, unlike the CEM papers, the exam sections are not timed. So your child will have the full 50 minutes (per paper) to flip back and forth through the papers and check over their answers. It also means they can ‘jump around’ and answers questions, trying to score as many points as possible. This should make the test a lot more relaxed.

All the papers are marked by an OMR scanner and this happens at Grammar Schools. We also have one of the scanners so the answer sheets are marked by having to fill in with a pencil. Part of our Mock Exams is training the children how to fill in the answer sheet and to feel comfortable because we don’t want them to get to the real thing in September and be presented with this format and not know how to use it. They need to learn how to start on the right line because if they miss a line every single question is then going to fall out of sync so there’s a lot of training that goes on in the mock exams in terms of how to use those papers.


11+ Mock Ranking

Once they’ve been scanned the score from the two papers are then added together and then they’re recorded from the highest score to the lowest score the places are allocated from the top down so when the last place is filled that is what we call the ‘pass mark’. There’s no official pass mark, so if parents ask me, would 60% be a pass, I cannot really say because it varies year on year. In 2022 year it was higher than usual the pass mark because they had a high number of children applying from out of the area, which affected the scores.

This is why the mocks are really useful because we will draw that kind of top-third line so typically the top third of children pass the bottom two-thirds don’t. This is as close as we can get to when they’re recorded by the schools in the real test. In past years, every single child in our mocks who gets above or just under that past mark line does go on to pass when they go into the real thing. We are used to drawing the line and being pretty spot on in terms of the actual standards the children need to be working to.

It is also useful to know that the scores are standardised by their age, so their date of birth is entered into the system. Again, we do this the same as the Grammar School. All of their ages go in and their grades are given a percentage which translates into a raw score – it s then this raw score that is then used to rank order them; so basically it treats every child as if they were born on the same day. It, therefore, makes it nice and fair so a child who is born in September has no advantage over one who’s born in August.

Fierce Competition

Quite frankly, there is a one in three chance of success in Torbay; it is quite fierce but it’s not as fierce as in other parts of the country. In London and areas around the home counties, it’s a one in ten chance of success. It is getting harder because Grammar schools don’t have a catchment area. The exams can be sat from anywhere in the country.

We know the process is brutal, but we always do our best to work hard now to try and make sure that our children are at the top of their game and competing for a place.

As the scanners mark their answer sheets, there are no nice teachers marking it. There will be no one looking at your child’s sheets saying “I can see that they should have selected A but they’ve selected B”.  There’s no one there checking that it’s not picked up by the scanner and if it’s not in the right box it won’t get marked correctly. Our training really does focus on getting the hang of those answer sheets.

The 11-plus is supposed to be hard.  I make this very clear when they sit the mock exams. The way we design our mock exams is that we try to throw in a curveball into each one or we try and cover different topics in each mock so that throughout the year there’s a chance for your child to stumble over something challenging. They can then work on it and learn from it.

We try and use the mocks to find those gaps. We can then give you feedback and then recommend how you can plug those gaps at home. The mocks are all about pulling out the weak areas.

It’s definitely a learning process. We’re training them on how to use the sheets. We’re training them in different methods. We’re training them how to use a watch to time themselves. We’re training them on ways to improve through the feedback that we give them. We’re giving them papers where they can recognise what they need to revise and work on. So our mocks are stretching but there is a reason behind it all. That reason is that they will be calm and ready for the real 11+ after a good mock experience.

They will feel confident and usually they come out with the result that they want!

2023 11+ Mock Information & Bookings

Find out more about our Mock Sessions and how to book here

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