Homeschooling Survival Guide

Surviving Homeschooling

Homeschooling your children can be daunting. As a result, it is not usually something parents enter into without a lot of thought, preparation and planning.

School closures are upon us however, with no end in sight to these closures, we have all been put in the unenviable position of entertaining and homeschooling our children.

Homeschooling little monsters

We will undertake this mammoth task alongside our everyday jobs, responsibilities and family life.

Homeschooling, like home working, needs self-discipline, planning and routine however you must spend time planning a strategy.

Covering the Curriculum


The national curriculum is a list of subjects and standards used by primary and secondary schools to ensure children learn the same things to roughly the same standards.

Your child’s school will have given you a list of topics and sub-topics that are being covered in your child’s current school year. To help you with homeschooling, a guide to the national curriculum can also be found on the government website. There are also many sites online that will list topics by school year.

It would be extremely difficult for you to cover all curriculum subjects when homeschooling but it is essential that you cover the core subjects of English and Maths in a structured, formal way and there are lots of other ways to tackle history, geography, PE, science and others.

Homeschooling Equipment

Set up your ‘homeschool’

One thing guaranteed to get your homeschooling off to a great start is to get your children involved, for example in the creation of your school.

  1. Think of a name for your school.
  2. Make a sign with your school’s name on it.
  3. Choose the area in your house where homeschooling will take place
  4. Buy small whiteboards and markers preferably a board for each learner and one for the teacher.
  5. If you have space put a set of small drawers in the area to keep work tidy.
  6. Again if space allows put up a corkboard to display work and notices.
  7. Make some decorated pen pots.
  8. Prepare a weather chart with stick-on clouds, rainbows etc
  9. Get a calendar to update every day with the date, day, month, year, season
  10. Establish the homeschooling rules together. – Phones, food, drink, talking etc.
  11. Most importantly make a timetable and stick to it.

Help – I’m not a teacher!

Don’t worry you don’t have to become a teacher overnight to be homeschooling successfully. You may need a little more patience, but you can do this.

Use the Internet

The internet is your saviour here because online you will find a wealth of websites offering games, worksheets, and interactive activities. Using websites and apps such as Kidsmart will allow you to set your child work using their tablet or laptop and to keep an eye on how they are doing.

Use the internet to research subjects you are unsure of while along the way finding useful resources for your homeschooling.

Youtube is great for educational videos however, make sure you watch the video first before playing it to your children.

Homeschooling monster teacher

Think of imaginative ways to teach. Here are some ideas you can build on:

  • Make an ongoing art project, one you can keep returning to such as a decorated book, wall hanging or large papier-mache model.
  • Watch Horrible Histories then combine this with a history day involving fancy dress and for example ‘Live like a Roman Day’.
  • Buy or make a large world map and use it to plan journeys or mark it up with pins and string relating to different facts, for example, highest population, weather etc. Cut out pictures of animals and place them in their country or continent.
  • Make cupcakes to learn ratio
  • Baking to learn weight conversions
  • If you have one make use of your garden for bugs, leaves, trees, and weather study.
  • Use FaceTime to interview an elderly relative or neighbour about their early life for instance, for history study.
  • Your homeschooling classroom can be vast.

Make a Timetable

Homeschooling Timetable

Use your design and IT skills. Make a timetable for example and get the children involved. Decide which days will be your homeschooling days then make a realistic timetable. Include reading time, recreation and fun time as well as lessons.

Depending on the age of your child, limit focussed learning to 30-minute blocks, most importantly, include play, food or recreation breaks in between.

Children like routine, they like to know what’s coming next because their enthusiasm for the next task helps them through the present one.

Pair your timetable with a reward chart or pasta/bead jar for example where children collect stars, beads, pasta shapes etc toward an end of homeschooling week reward.

Stick to your routine. If it works better for you, start later, for example, a 10 or 11am start will give everyone the chance for a leisurely morning. Eat breakfast, shower and dress, to eat and be washed and dressed ready for ‘homeschooling’.

Homeschooling Technology

Stick to your break times and don’t extend them. Allow phones and virtual contact with friends during breaks.

Mummy time. Make sure you have blocked out space on your timetable for ‘mummy time’ Use this time for yourself, connect with friends or pamper yourself. You deserve it!

Homeschooling reward board

Top Ten Tips

  • Be prepared – Plan ahead
  • Stick to the plan
  • Work as a team
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself
  • Make it fun
  • Healthy snacks
  • Make time for yourself
  • Use technology
  • Reward good behaviour
  • Remember fun and exercise.

I hope this has been of some use to you however, do try to have fun and use this unique opportunity to bond with your child over education. Good luck!


When Math turned a bit Slope-y, Malaysia rose and ran

It was lunchtime for the eighth-graders, and everyone was gone besides a few students who decided they wanted to eat lunch with their math teacher (she was pretty cool like that). Everyone in the class understood everything that the teacher taught them, EXCEPT for one particular boy, Jaden.

Jaden being a Star Wars fanatic dreamt of being a Jedi one day. He always sat in the back and never really paid attention in class. Instead, he would look out the window and stare at the sky or play with his pencils as if they were lightsabers and he was a Jedi.

He overheard his teacher ask a couple of students if they were ready for the upcoming test on the slope and y-intercept chapter.

Jaden froze.

“TEST? WHAT TEST!” He thought to himself. He was clueless. “Did we even learn this in class yet?” he thought to himself. “Our teacher has got to be joking around, right?” He asked his friend Tyson.

“Dude, you were here all week, how do you not know about this test?” Tyson snarked back. Jaden then overheard his friend, Malaysia, explain it to their classmate, Jenny. She was explaining Rise over Run (the change in y/change in x) method. Jaden listened to Malaysia and tried to write notes.

“Don’t you just love to learn about new things!” shouted Malaysia, “This test is going to be so easy!” she said. This made Jaden sick to his stomach. He felt very out of place and dumb. How was he going to learn all this information before the test?

Jaden decided to get a math book and started to study without any of his classmates noticing. Yet, no matter how hard he tried Jaden just did not understand it! He kept memorizing the slope equation, but it was just too hard for him to remember. This infuriated Jaden.

“I give up! FORGET IT! I’ll just have to fail my test and just get it over with!”
“WAIT! WHAT? YOU ARE GOING TO GIVE UP?” screamed Malaysia from across the room. “You cannot give up on an easy topic like this Jaden! Would a Jedi give up?” She yelled (she knew Jaden loved Star Wars.) “Grab that book! I am going to teach this to you, and YOU are going to ace that test!!!!” He was so embarrassed that Malaysia called him out in front of his friends, but he listened and did what Malaysia told him to do.

“Jaden, the slope is always m in the equation, Like Luke is always a Jedi Master, and it’s always by the variable x, like Luke’s Light Saber is by his side at all times. As usual, the y-intercept, Hans Solo, is always b. So, it’ll be y= slope (Luke) + y-intercept (Hans). Just make sure you remember it like this: y=mx+b. It’s that simple,” Malaysia explained.

“Wow!” said Jaden, “That actually helps me to remember the equation now!” Jaden was thrilled but he still was slightly confused. “Ok so I understand it now, but I still don’t know how it is supposed to look on the graph or how I can find the slope and the y-intercept.”

“No problem! That is really easy!” Malaysia said. Jaden was even more excited and was glad Malaysia was there to teach him, especially because she used Star Wars references. She began and said, “The way to find slope is to use the rise over run method!” “The rise over run method? I’m still a little bit shaky on that part, Malaysia.” Jaden said.

“To find the rise over run (or the slope) on a graph you have to count the spaces by first going up (rising, like the Death Star) then count the spaces across (run, how far the Death Star is traveling). After you count the spaces, you put them into a slope fraction form. In this case, the slope would be 3 over 1 which is automatically 3.” Jaden was proud that he understood and smiled and told Malaysia “I got it!”

“I understand everything, but I still don’t know how to find the y-intercept. Do I have to solve an equation to find it? ” asked Jaden.
Malaysia giggled and said “No silly. The y-intercept is no sweat. You can find the y-intercept right on the graph”. Malaysia pointed to a graph in her notebook that was labeled. “See” she pointed.

“Jaden, you find the y-intercept by just looking at the point where the line crosses the y-axis, like how the Mandalorian has to cross an icy sea to get to his busted ship. His ship is the y-intercept! So, when you are writing down the equation for b, you substitute it for the number on the y-axis. For this example, the y-intercept would be 4.” said Malaysia.

“Yay!” said Jaden. “I understand everything. It makes a lot of sense now, thanks for referencing my favorite movies of all time, that really helped me remember it. I just hope I get a good grade on the test”.

It was the day of the test and Jaden was really nervous but looking at everyone in the classroom made him feel a little calmer. They all looked nervous. He looked over at Malaysia and she smiled at him and simply said: “You got this Padawan”. The teacher passed out the test, and everyone started writing.

Jaden continued to reference Star Wars while he would think about his answers, and it helped. He remembered y-intercept and the formula for slope. He finally finished his test and bam! There was his teacher, coming around to collect everyone’s test.

After all the tests were collected, his teacher graded them right there. Jaden was nervous, what if he remembered it wrong. Jaden really enjoyed her class since she was super funny and delightful. “I really should pay attention more often,” he said to himself.

His teacher started walking to him. She had his test in her hands and a weird expression on her face. He really thought he failed, but he got an A+! He flashed his paper towards Malaysia to show her his grade and gave her a thumbs up. “Malaysia, thanks so much for helping me study and understand everything!”

Malaysia smiled and said “No problem, Jaden. Anytime!”

Grammar Schools

11 plus schools in Essex and exam preparation guide

Boasting high-quality grammar schools, the county of Essex is well stocked to serve its residents the 11+ experience with eight selective 11 plus schools in Essex to choose from throughout the county.

The Essex towns of Colchester, Chelmsford, Southend and Westcliff all have excellent schools offering a grammar school education to those boys and girls who, following a selective entry test (11+), are successful in securing places at one of the schools.

All 11 plus schools in Essex are single-sex and operate quite separately from each other. Colchester Royal Grammar School for boys offers co-ed education in its 6th form.

11 plus schools in Essex have long been amongst the best performing at GCSE and A level in the country, therefore entry to these schools is fiercely competitive with around 800-1000 students sitting for each exam over two dates. Preparation can begin as early as year 3.

Read more on 5 Benefits of laying 11 plus foundation early.

This article will hopefully guide you through what can be a maze of application and preparation for the 11+ in Essex.

A general guide to the 11+ for parents can be found here A complete guide to 11 plus.


Admissions to 11 plus schools in Essex are managed by the schools who make up the Consortium of Selective Schools in Essex. Details of how to contact them along with other information offered can be found here: CSSE.

The CSSE website is very helpful and should be your ‘go-to’ place for dates and application information. Their website also has a printable guide that you can keep handy during the application and preparation process with contact numbers if you need a ‘human voice’.  Preparation for the 11+ can take a lot of organising, the CSSE website has most of the application information you will need, all in one place.

Grammar schools in Essex, like others around the country, offer places to children achieving the highest scores in the selective 11+ test. The test is not pass or fail, for instance, if a school has 150 places on offer, the top 150 scorers will secure the places. Your chosen school will be able to give you an idea of ‘pass marks’ from previous years.

Each school has its own admissions policy. LIST OF GRAMMAR SCHOOLS IN ESSEX. which you should look at as some have catchment area incentives. Colchester Royal Grammar School has a 13+ entry, which can be really useful if a place is not secured at year 7.

Each school offers an Open Day and tours and most of these include an introduction from the headteacher along with guided tours from current pupils. Attending Open Day is an essential part of the preparation process. Seeing the school in action will inspire your child and help you with any application and preparation issues.

You will find the application process and forms on the CSSE website. You will also need to complete the LEA application form, in case your child does not secure a place at a grammar school. Do not send off your LEA form until you have the result of the 11+ as you must put the grammar school as your first choice. If your child is not offered a place at grammar school, you can then put your alternative school as the first choice. The results of the 11+ are now timed to fit in with this process.

General Admissions Information for entry (taken from CSSE website.)

Applications Closing DateLocal Authority Forms 31/10/20

Test Registration closing date: Wed 1st July 2020 CSSE registration will open for 2021 entry Tue. 19th May 2020
Test DateSaturday 19th September 2020
Test TypesMaths and English
ExaminerPapers are written by teachers from the schools
Allocations2nd March 2021
Admissions Essex Consortium Tel: 01245 348257
Essex Council Tel: 0845 603 2200

The 11+ Test in Essex

The test is taken in the first 2 weeks of year 6. The exact date and time of the test can be found at CSSE

The CSSE sets one common selection test for all Essex grammar schools, except Chelmsford County High School for Girls, which has its own test.  The consortium sets its own exams so does not follow GL or CEM structure, however, papers from those examining bodies are still ok to use as practice papers.

The Essex 11+ test is taken in one of the local high schools. There are usually two sittings because of the high application numbers. Some of the test centres are quieter than others. If you speak to someone at CSSE you may be able to place a more anxious child in one of these locations.

You can elect to be notified of the result by email or post. Your letter will tell you your child’s score and where that places him or her in terms of an offer of a place. Results are usually released about a month after the exam. The CSSE provides a colour-coded guide to show you how, in previous years, scores have matched offers. This sheet will indicate if your child will be likely to receive an offer, may receive one, may get onto the waiting list or is not likely to be offered a place. It is this information that should inform your choice on the LEA form which must be returned by 31st October to your LEA. The final offer will come through on or around March 2nd which is National Offer Day.

There is an appeals process which very seldom results in the offer of a place. Only Colchester Royal Grammar School has a 13+ entry system.

If it is something you have considered, it is also worth remembering that many independent schools offer academic scholarships to students who have scored highly in the 11+. If you are visiting an independent school prior to taking the 11+ it is worth notifying the admissions office that your child is sitting the 11+ and registering interest in an academic scholarship.

The only way into a grammar school is by selective testing. You cannot pay to get in, or enter in any other year than year 7. (except Colchester Royal Grammar School which has 13+ entry)

Essex 11+ Exam Format

The Essex 11+ papers are aimed at high achieving students of KS2. Along with maths and English, included in the papers are questions on non-verbal and verbal reasoning. These two topics are not taught under the National Curriculum but can be studied in preparation for the 11+. At the time of the test, students should; have a good knowledge of National Curriculum Maths and English, have a reading age above 11, be familiar with comprehension and understand the principles of spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Students will take two papers consecutively, lasting one hour each with a short break after the first paper.

The English paper comprises: 

Comprehension, grammar and vocabulary questions

Comprehension – The student will be asked to read then answer questions on a short piece of text. The comprehension section usually has about 30 marks available and looks for a students ability to read and understand a text, find information within the text, comment on the writer’s use of language, identify implicit and explicit text and recognise inference.

The chosen texts are usually quite difficult and often taken from 19th-century writings. It is a good idea to familiarise your child with these texts either in their complete form or by practising using extracts from 19th-century texts. ELEVEN PLUS READING LIST

Grammar – Within the comprehension section there will usually be questions asking students to identify word types ( e.g. identify the adjective in line 16) or to comment on the writer’s use of language.

Vocabulary – A student’s vocabulary will be tested by asking the student to either define a word from the text or choose a word from a selection that has the same meaning as a word from the text.

Improving your child’s vocabulary is essential for the reading and writing components of the 11+. Marks will be gained from being able to understand what you are reading and to be able to choose the best word when you are writing. You will find tips, games and apps to improve your child’s vocabulary here.

Punctuation – Students may be asked to punctuate a piece of text or their punctuation may be tested in the creative writing section.

Two pieces of creative writing.

The creative writing section of the test looks for a student’s ability to use language correctly and creatively.

Historically students have been asked to write pieces such as ‘Write 7 sentences explaining how to make a cup of tea.’ or ‘Describe in 5 paragraphs a member of your family and explain why you like them.’ However, students may also be asked to write a piece from a sentence starter or to write about a picture given to them.

Within the creative writing section the student must demonstrate proficiency in the following:

  • Spelling – Spelling is important and will be marked throughout the test. Make sure your child has an excellent spelling strategy and always checks through their writing. Spelling advice and strategies.
  • Grammar & Language – Your child must show good use of grammar and language. Making use of adjectives adverbs, similes, metaphors, personification, alliteration, repetition and other language devices will result in high marks. Try using grammar apps – find some here.
  • Vocabulary -Examiners are looking for a wide range of vocabulary. Your child must learn to use words suited to their subject and audience as well as showing an extended vocabulary. Reading will improve vocabulary and there are many apps available to help. Find vocab apps here.
  • Sentence structure -Use a range of paragraphs, simple and complex sentences and clauses. Your child should be able to demonstrate the use of a variety of sentence structure in his or her writing for effect and structure.
  • Punctuation – students must be able to show good use of a variety of punctuation in their writing.

Applied Reasoning (literacy/verbal)

Applied reasoning, or verbal reasoning as it is often called, tests the student on his or her knowledge of words. There are about 20 different verbal reasoning types covering problems such as anagrams. alphabetical order, synonyms, the odd one out, letter codes, and more. Students should try to do at least one set of verbal reasoning problems each day. There are apps and games available to help with this, you could also try Wordsearch books, crosswords, Scrabble, Boggle and other word games

The English papers are written by teachers from the Essex High Schools. 

Past papers suitable for CSSE preparation

The maths paper comprises: 

  • Arithmetic Skills
  • Questions consistent with KS2 National Curriculum 
  • Applied reasoning (maths/non-verbal reasoning)

The Maths papers are written by one of the teachers from the Essex High Schools. The previous two years’ Maths papers can be purchased from the Consortium of Selective Schools in Essex-CSSE but unfortunately, older papers are generally not available. Suitable practice papers can be obtained by clicking here.

The maths paper is notoriously difficult. It requires not only a working knowledge of maths but also the ability to problem-solve. 

Primary Maths Challenge style questions would make good practice. 

You need a good working knowledge of the following:

  • Arithmetic
  • Area
  • Bar Charts
  • Angles
  • Geometry
  • Ratio
  • Algebra
  • Proportion
  • Probability
  • Percentages

Essex 11+ Pass Mark

Historical Essex 11 plus pass parks averages around 350. The pass marks cut off would be higher for people living outside the priority area.

A useful guide to understanding scores can be found here Essex 11 plus pass mark and score guide


For most of the students sitting the 11+ this will be the first big exam they have ever taken. It can be daunting not only because of the number of students in the room, but also the formality and seriousness of the exam.

Learning some essential exam skills could make the difference between offered a place or not.

  • Time management
  • Interpreting questions
  • Choose your battles
  • Using every minute
  • Effective checking
  • Marking up questions

Schools Information

Each school has its own admissions policy the links below will take you to each schools’ websites and admissions policies.

King Edward VI Grammar School | Admissions Policy 2021

Colchester County High School For Girls | Admissions Policy 2021

Colchester Royal Grammar School | Admissions Policy 2021

Southend High School for Boys

Southend High School for Girls | Admissions Policy 2021

Westcliff High School for Boys

Westcliff High School for Girls | Admissions Policy 2020

Chelmsford County High School | Admissions Policy 2021


What is a Venn Diagram and When to Use It?

What to expect for 11 plus?

Like them or loathe them but Venn diagrams are a topic that has come up time and time again in the 11 plus exams and are an important topic for your child to know about.

Venn diagrams are widely used in schools to sort data. In business, Venn diagrams are used to check valuable data that can benefit the company. Like any other diagram, Venn diagram has its unique feature that we need to comprehend so we can better read and analyse the data being presented in the diagram.

This blog post will explain in length what a Venn diagram is and when to use it. We will also explain how to make one. 

What is a Venn Diagram?

A Venn diagram is a kind of pictorial organiser. They are used for organising complex relationships visually. They allow abstract ideas to be more precise and visible. 

Venn diagrams are primarily used as a thinking tool, but in actuality, they can also be used for assessing things.

Venn diagrams use overlapping circles or other shapes to display the logical relationships, similarities, and differences between two or more set of items. It’s not required to use circles, but more often than not, it is the most convenient shape because circles can overlap easily. 

Each shape (in this case, each circle) represents some entity or “sets.” The features or characteristics the sets have in common are placed where the shapes overlap. The items or features unique to each set are written in the non-overlapping part of their respective shapes. 

If all the features of one set are among the features of another set, the entire shape of the first set is contained within that of the second set. 

Also called Logic diagrams or Set diagrams, Venn diagrams are extensively used in different fields, such as linguistics, business, statistics, logic, mathematics, teaching, logic, and computer science. 

You may have encountered them in school as you study logic or maths, and that’s because the Venn diagram became part of the “new math” curricula in the 1960s. 

With the advancement in technology, Venn diagrams are now usually presented in 3D presentations. What’s really great about the Venn diagram (compared to the others) is that it allows the viewers and users to visualise data clearly and powerfully. That explains why Venn diagrams are widely used in reports and presentations. 

Regarding the effectiveness of Venn diagrams, here’s what Robert M. O’Brien of Department of Sociology at the University of Oregon wrote:

“Venn diagrams are used to provide an intuitive understanding of multiple regression analysis and these diagrams work well with two variables.”

“The use of Venn diagrams has been suggested in the literature because they allow students and researchers to see diagrammatically many of the key components in multiple regression.” 

Venn diagrams, at a basic level, are simple visual representations of the relationship that exists between two sets of items or things. However, they are more complex in orientation and application. 

Venn diagrams are now popularly used to illustrate ideas, concepts, and groups. They are considered as trademark tools for teaching basic logic and math. 

The History of Venn Diagram

Venn diagrams have long been known for their effectiveness and usefulness on an educational level. Since the 20th century, they are being used as a part of the introductory logic curriculum (more of this later). 

John Venn, a British logician, introduced Venn diagrams in the 1880 Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science with a title On the Diagrammatic and Mechanical Representation of Propositions and Reasonings. Hence, the diagram was named after him. 

Venn studied and taught probability theory and logic at Cambridge University. This is also where Venn developed his method of using diagrams to represent set theory. Venn published The Logic of Chance, a book that explained the frequency theory of probability. 

Venn gave a clarity to the popular educated assumptions by establishing that probability should be accepted based on the regularity that something is predicted to happen or occur. Venn also developed more apprehended George Boole’s theories in his 1881 book, Symbolic Logic

However, the genesis of this type of diagram actually dates back to the early 1200s. Ramon Llull, a philosopher and logician, used a diagram similar to that of Venn’s — this is according to M.E baron in his 1969 article. She also credited Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibnitz, a German mathematician and philosopher, for introducing similar diagram in the late 1600s. 

In the 1700s, Leonard Euler, a Swiss mathematician, introduced what came to be known as the Euler Diagram, which is the forerunner of the Venn Diagram. 

You’ll be surprised to know that even John Venn referred his diagrams as Eulerian Circles. It was only in 1918 that his diagrams were known as Venn Diagram when it was presented in the book A Survey of Symbolic Logic by Clarence Irving Lewis. 

Venn Diagrams continued to improve over the years. In 1963, D. W. Henderson showed that symmetric Venn diagrams could be used to examine prime numbers. 

Venn diagrams, along with Euler diagrams, were so significant that they were incorporated as part of instruction in set theory as part of the 1960’s new math movement. 

The Benefits and Purpose of Venn Diagram

Venn diagrams can be used in various fields for learning and analyzation. Below are the purpose and benefits of the Venn diagram:

Helps organise information

Venn diagrams help organise information between sets of items, including differences and similarities. Both professionals and students can use Venn diagrams to think through the logic behind a concept or to see the relationships for visual communication. 

To compare choices between two or more sets

Venn diagrams can help you see clearly what the sets have in common and what makes them unique. This is applicable, especially if you’re thinking about buying a product or service. Venn diagram can help you filter the pros, cons, and the commonalities between two or more products. 

To solve difficult math problems 

If you’re a mathematician, Venn diagrams can help you solve complex mathematical problems.

Take for example, Peter Hamburger, who found symmetric Venn diagrams for the prime number 11. In 2003, Griggs, Killian, and Savage also showed that symmetric Venn diagrams exist for all other prime numbers. 

Quick fact: prime numbers are numbers indivisible by other numbers except 1 and the number itself, like 7, 11, 13, etc. 

To compare data between sets

Another purpose of Venn diagrams is to find connections and predict the probabilities of certain events. 

To find the reason behind the logic 

Venn diagrams are used to find the logic behind equations and/or statements. For example, the diagram is used to find the Boolean logic, a form of algebra that’s centred around three simple words (known as Boolean Operators): “or”, “and”, and “not”.

Venn Diagram in Different Industries

Venn diagrams are used widely to present sorted data. They’re used in different cases and industries.


Venn diagrams are used to identify the validity of certain arguments and conclusion. In deductive reasoning, for example, if the propositions are true and the argument form is correct, then the conclusion is true. To elaborate, if all cats are animals, and our pet Shelby is a cat, then Shelby must be an animal. If assigned to variables, let’s say cats are A, Shelby is B, and animals are C. In an argument form, we’d say:

All A are C. B is A. Therefore, B is C. A diagram in logic similar to Venn diagram is called a Truth Table.

In there, the variables are placed into columns to analyse what’s logically valid. Another similar diagram, the R-diagram or Randolph diagram (named after John F. Randolph), use lines to define the logic behind sets. 


Educators use Venn diagrams to help their students improve their reading comprehension. The students can use the diagram to compare the ideas they’re reading about. 


In business, Venn diagrams are used to compare products, processes, services, and pretty much anything that can be represented in sets. Venn diagrams are also an effective tool for illustrating comparisons and commonalities. 


Venn diagrams are being used to study and analyze the similarities and differences among languages. 

When to Use a Venn Diagram

Venn diagrams can be used when comparing and contrasting groups of things. They are useful and effective for formative assessment.

Formative assessment refers to a wide array of methods that educators use to conduct in-process evaluations (or assessments) of student comprehension, learning needs, and academic progress during a class, unit, or course. 

Why, you ask?

Venn diagrams can be used to generate engagement, participation, and discussion. What’s more, they provide educators with information about the thinking of the students. 

Venn diagrams can also be used in science as they are helpful for easier classification. 

But how do you read a Venn diagram?

If you need to interpret a Venn diagram, here are the things you need to do:

  1. Ask questions about the commonalities and differences that the Venn diagram presents.
  2. Provide true or false statements. 
  3. Then, discuss or ask questions about the two sets. For example, students may be able to say that whales have similarities to fish, but are not fish because they don’t lay eggs or have scales. 
  4. If appropriate, ask questions that motivate students to create generalisations. 

How to Make a Venn Diagram

To create a Venn diagram, the first step is to decide what your topic is or what to compare. Write a descriptive title at the top of the page. 

Then, create a diagram. Make circles for each subjects; each should overlap at least one other circle. You may also use other shapes, but circles are usually used because they overlap much easier. 

Next, label each circle. You may place the topic or subject of each circle near or inside the shape. Do not write the topics/subject inside the neighbouring circles to avoid confusion.

It would be helpful to change the font style and colour of the topics/subject to maintain clarity and to make them easily distinguishable. 

Inside each circle, write down the differences in the subjects. Place the characteristics that are unique to that specific to the topic, subject, or idea. 

Within the space where the circles (or other shapes) overlap, write down their similarities. 

Here’s an example:

As per the example above, listed inside the shape of FISH are the unique characteristics of the fish. Within the other circle are the unique features of whales. Inside the spaces where the two circles overlap are the characteristics that both species (fish and whales) have in common. 

The shapes of a Venn diagram can be more than two. 

Venn Diagram Glossary

Here are some of the words you will encounter with Venn diagrams. 


Set(s) is/are a collection of things. The sets could be anything (be in for business, mathematics, linguistics, computer science, etc.). The things may be be called objects, items, members, or other terms similar to these. 


Union refers to all items in the sets. 


Also called subset, the intersection is the items that overlap in the sets. 


These are everything that aren’t in the intersection. Simply put, these are the differences of the sets.


This refers to everything that is not in the set. 


Relative complement refers to things or items in one set but isn’t in the other. 


Scaled Venn diagrams are circles or any other shapes with sizes proportional to their representation of the whole. It is also called Area Proportional. 


This refers to the shape formed from the intersection of three circles or shapes, such as that of a Venn diagram. 


Set notations are the concepts being illustrated in Venn diagrams that are usually expressed in mathematical notations. The sets and subsets are represented by brackets, the unions by a u-like symbol, and the intersections by an upside-down U symbol. 


Set theory is the longstanding branch of math that deals with sets. Over 30 symbols are being used in set theory, but there are three common symbols that will teach you the basics — Union symbol (u), intersection (∩), and complement Ac. 


How To Choose The Best 11+ Tutor

Preparing for the 11+ is nerve-wracking, especially for those who wish to enter grammar schools. 

Independent and grammar schools have limited places, and thousands of students will have to compete with each other to fill the places.

This is the reason why personal tutors are in high-demand in the market. Agencies and private tutors all promise the same thing: to give children the best chances of passing the 11 plus entrance exam.

But because of the ever-increasing number of tutors and tutoring companies, picking the best 11 plus tutor becomes a rather tricky task. 

So how do you choose the best 11 plus tutor? How much does it cost? And is it even worth it? These questions will be answered in this blog post. Read on. 

Types of Tutor

It’s worth noting that there are different types of 11 plus tutor. The sort you pick will depend on the availability in your area, and of course, your own preferences according to your child’s needs. 

  • Independent tutors work locally and tutor children on a one-on-one setting or in small groups. The teaching session is usually held in the child’s home. Independent tutors are often qualified teachers who are on a career break or have retired already. Some are students. 
  • Online tutoring is usually on online messaging platforms such as Skype or any other telecommunications applications. This is the best option for pupils to be tutored remotely.
  • Tutoring centres are companies or agencies that employ several tutors. They can be locally-based and usually teach children in groups. Some prefer tutoring centres over private tutors because they build a small classroom atmosphere, so the environment is less intense for children. 

How to find an 11+ tutor 

So how do you actually find the best 11 plus tutor? A good place to start is by contacting The Tutors’ Association. This professional organisation is connected to hundreds of credible freelance tutors and tutorial companies, although some of them work in London only. 

Another way to find the best 11 plus tutor is by asking your friends, family, and parents of Year 7 children who have successfully passed the 11 plus exams. We could all agree… word of mouth recommendation is still the best way to find the best person for the job. 

The best tutors (whether independent or agency) are usually the ones who are experienced and knowledgeable. 

If you can’t find a locally available tutor, you may want to consider online tutoring. Online tutors are unlimited by location, but of course, you’d want to select a tutor who is immersed in the UK system. 

Well-respected tutoring companies will always pick credible and reputable tutors. They will also monitor the tutors’ professional success and progress. Tutorial companies should ensure all in-house tutors have a DBS check. So when looking for tutoring companies, look for members of The Tutors’ Association (TTA). 

If you prefer hiring independent tutors, make sure to ask for their DBS checks and references. 

It doesn’t hurt to ask the school you intend to apply to about how best you can prepare your child for the 11 plus exam. You can ask the school for sample 11 plus exam papers, or you can get it from their official website (if available).

A credible tutoring company usually has excellent sources to stimulate the child’s interest in learning all the while preparing him or her for the 11 plus exam. 

Sample exam papers will give you a good idea whether the standards of the school is within your child’s reach. Practice is important, and tutors can help your child develop a technique so they can enhance their memory, thinking ability, and reasoning.

Choosing a tutor

There is no independent accreditation or rating system for tutors. So you may need to interview them, get as much information about them, take up references, and get recommendations to ensure you’d pick the best 11 plus tutor.

But most importantly, you need to ensure that your child feels right with the person once the session starts. 
Here are other factors to consider when selecting an 11 plus tutor. 

  • Experience

Knowing the tutor’s experience at getting children into grammar schools is really important. Check whether the tutor or tutoring company has experience in coaching students in all of the elements of the tests.

If the 11 plus exam format has changed in your area, make sure the tutor knows about the latest changes.

But don’t close your doors to new tutors that may have more dynamic and interesting approach to children compared to matured tutors that have traditional coaching methods. 

  • Qualifications

Again, tutors don’t have rating systems, and they don’t need formal qualifications, but you’d feel more comfortable if yours have them.

For example, if reading and comprehension is your child’s weak point, you might want to select a tutor that’s good at reading and can help your child to improve his comprehension. 

  • Pass rates

Ask the tutor what percentage of his/her students have passed the 11 plus exam over the past few years. It’s best to get references from other parents whose children have been tutored by your potential tutor. 

  • Methods

Do you want your child to engage in a one-on-one tutor? Or do you want him/her to get involved in a small group? How often do you want your child to be tutored? It’s important to align your child’s needs with the tutor’s method of teaching. 

  • Location and cost

This may seem like a small factor to be concerned about, but these are important considerations, especially if you will be committing to a long-term tutoring programme. For example, single mums who don’t drive would prefer tutors who are willing to come to their house.

And of course, select a tutor that fits your budget. Again, not all expensive tutors are the best. Look for a tutor that prices reasonably. 

Does the tutor know the selection process in your area? 

It’s easy to assume that a tutor in your area or county knows the requirements of 11 plus, but sadly, that’s not always the case. You can find out what the tests will consist of by contacting the school or your Local Authority. 

Does the tutor have relevant qualifications? 

A credible tutor has teaching certificates or other academic certificates. Not all tutors are trained teachers, but anyone teaching a child should have a good academic history or background. Also, a tutor should have completed a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check within the last 5 years. He or she should be willing to show you their clearance form. 

A recent CRB check is really important, especially if your child is going to have a one-on-one session with the tutor. Do not accept any excuses.

But just because a tutor has a CRB check doesn’t mean you have to necessarily pick them. If you don’t (or your child) feel comfortable about their attitude toward your child (on their first meet or any time later on), you should look for another tutor immediately. 

You should pick a tutor that knows how to handle your child. For example, if you wish to interview the tutor before hiring him, you may want to ask about how he handles students and what he does to make learning fun.

You may also ask about what his techniques in dealing with bored and uninterested students. 

What is the cost? 

Independent tutors usually charge £17 to £25 per hour for individual tuition.

The cost varies depending on your area and the tutor’s popularity and experience. In-demand tutors can charge as high as £80+ per hour. Group tutoring is generally priced two-thirds the price of private sessions. Meanwhile, online tutors usually charge £15 per hour. 

Most tutoring centres charge a monthly fee, which can vary between £50 and £120 per month, usually for two sessions per week. 

Remember, charges vary among tutors. But just because it’s expensive doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best one. Some tutors will ask for payment on a weekly or semi-weekly basis, while others ask for large amounts in advance.

If a tutor asks you for full payment in advance, you should consider it very carefully before shelling out cash. If your child does not get on with his tutor, or it becomes clear that your child does not have the potential to qualify the 11 plus exam, you will just lose a huge amount of money. 

Will the tutor suit your child?

One of the most important factors in selecting an 11 plus tutor is to consider how they will get on with your kid. Some parents like traditional and mature tutors with broad experience, while others prefer young and dynamic tutors who can motivate their kid.

You must also carefully consider whether you prefer a female or male tutor for your child. In regards to tutoring centres, consider if you want your child to see the same person for every session. 

Before committing to a tutor, it’s best to have your child meet them. A couple of trial sessions is a great way to see how’d the tutor and your child get along. Remember, trial sessions may or may not be free. Seeing your child with the tutor is the best way to see if they are best for each other. 

Hiring a tutor for your child gives them a sufficient advantage over others. If your child is at prep school yet, getting a tutor is probably unnecessary.

Most prep school students hate it anyway. However, if your child is at a state primary, it makes sense to find a good, experienced tutor who will make sure that your kid is equipped when competing against those who are also prepped for the 11 plus exams. 

The tutor can help your child focus in areas that they find difficult. 11 plus exams are usually consists of English (comprehension and creative writing), Mathematics (numerical reasoning and standard math problems), verbal reasoning, and non-verbal reasoning.

If in any way your child struggles in one or more of these areas, a tutor can surely help. 

What feedback will they give you, and how often?

Regular feedback is vital. It lets you see your child’s real progress and chances of succeeding the 11 plus exam. It will also help you plan your child’s school options accordingly.

A good tutor will not sugarcoat his feedback and will be frank with you at all times. They may tell you if your child is likely or unlikely to pass. 

If it becomes clear that your child needs extra work to pass the 11 plus exam the tutor should explain that to you.

They may also suggest that the will not coach your child any further. It’s fair to think that the tutor is protecting their pass-rate by doing that. But a good tutor should not be more concerned about their pass rate.

It’s likely that they do not wish for you to spend more money unnecessarily or give you or the child false hope about their chances of passing the 11 plus exam. 

A good tutor will help you make the decision to stop tutoring and will help you manage your child’s emotions about it. 

In case your child isn’t equipped yet to ace the 11 plus exam, you should always have a Plan B. 

Monitor your child’s progress

When you’ve already chosen a tutor, you will need to ensure that your child is making great improvements with them. It’s not so much to ask for a report after every six or seven sessions.

You may also want to talk to the tutor about the test scores of your child — whether they’re improving or plummeting.

Speak to the tutor and ask them about the areas that your child struggles with. You should also try to listen to some tutoring sessions as well. You’ll be the judge of whether your child is learning and participating.

I cant afford a tutor, what do I do?

For a lot of parents, it’s very expensive to hire a one to one tutor, especially when you consider all the other expenses of having a child. This is one of the reasons that we developed KidSmart.

Our app is aimed at helping children prepare for their 11+ in just 20 minutes a day. Our app even has on-demand tutors within the app, so if your child gets stuck they can get real feedback from tutors.

This may be a more cost effective approach for parents who can’t afford weekly tuition sessions.


What You Need to Know about the 11 Plus Maths Exam

Is your child is taking the 11 Plus exam?

Their math skills need to be sharp as it is one of the main subjects that will be tested as part of the assessment process. 

That’s why knowing what to expect and how to prepare will give them the confidence they need to do well. 

The math section of the 11 Plus exam generally tests your child’s proficiency in numbers and other mathematical concepts that are covered within the Key Stage 2 Maths curriculum. 

General Format of the Maths Test

The maths test tends to vary across areas and schools. For instance, some schools set out a separate multiple-choice style maths test, while others set a single paper that combines both English and maths-based questions. 

The time varies as well, ranging from 30 minutes to an hour. Some schools also set numerical reasoning tests as a way of making the exam more ‘tutor proof.’

 This simply means the questions are structured in such a way that requires critical thinking and analysis in order to break down the problems and solve for the right answers. 

Because the test format varies so much, it’s important to visit the individual websites of the school where your child will be taking the exam to find out more detailed information about the tests they set. This way, you know what to focus on during the preparation stage. 

What Types of Questions are Involved?

Most of the maths questions on the 11 Plus will require problem solving and detailed analysis, where candidates need to understand and apply mathematical concepts. 

This means that it is important for pupils to be well versed on the basic principles before they can use them for problem solving. 

There are several different types of questions but essentially cover the National Curriculum syllabus. These categories can be broadly broken down into 6 different areas:

1. Numbers – These questions are focused on elements such as:

  • Square roots
  • Negative numbers
  • Triangular numbers
  • Square and cube numbers
  • Money
  • Prime numbers
  • Numerals

2. Fractions and Decimals – These include questions on:

  • Fractions
  • Decimals
  • Percentages
  • Ratios and proportions

3. Shapes and Space (geometry)- This type of questions can cover:

  • Symmetry and angles (obtuse, acute, right angles)
  • Transformations (rotation and reflection)
  • 2D shapes like triangles, circles, and polygons
  • 3D shapes like spheres, cubes and pyramids
  • Perimeter and Area (Squares, Rectangles, Compound Shapes)

4. Measurements – These questions can include:

  • Length and width
  • Height and depth
  • Addition, subtraction, division, multiplication
  • Mass and weight
  • Times tables
  • Volume
  • Time variables
  • Scales

5. Data Handling – This covers elements such as:

  • Tables
  • Grids
  • Charts
  • Coordinates
  • Simple Probability
  • Mean, median, mode
  • Frequency

6. Problem solving – This is the most difficult type of Maths question in the 11 Plus. It can include:

  • Story-based questions
  • Missing numbers in a pattern
  • Algebra, equations and formulae

How to Help Your Child Prepare

You should note that calculators are not allowed in the 11 Plus exams, so a lot is riding on not just your child’s math ability, but also their time management skills. 

It is crucial that your child’s mental maths is up to scratch, making sure that they are comfortable with their times tables and can add or subtract quickly.

As a starting point, you can work on Maths-focused questions with your child. This gives you a great opportunity to assess their current abilities so you know what areas need the most attention and then slowly progress to more complex units.

Early preparation is also key. If you know your child is going to take the 11 Plus, then you might want to start prepping them as early as Year 3 or 4. 

They can use this time to lay the groundwork and get familiar with key concepts. They can also do some practicing and using workbooks to hone their skills so that they become second nature. 

By Year 5, they are ready to apply their mathematical knowledge to problem solving and data handling. 

It also helps to familiarise them with the format and style of the exam beforehand. Tackling practice papers gives children valuable experience, especially in terms of managing their time effectively.

Developing their Critical Thinking Skills 

Regular practice and workbooks are a great way to help familiarise children with what to expect, but introducing interactive games, puzzles and activities can develop your child’s speed, accuracy and confidence. 

It’s also an excellent way for them to apply practical knowledge and sharpen their abilities to think deeply. You can do this through learning tools and platforms like KidSmart

This mobile app is designed to help your child practice their Maths, English, and reasoning skills in just 20 mins a day. 

It features various 11 plus practice tests and timed worksheets to help them hone their skills without feeling overwhelmed. 

KidSmart uses a mix of games, videos, and interactive lessons that are aimed at developing the cognitive skills of children aged 4 – 11, helping them become self learners. 

This is an important skill to have because it encourages them to try to figure things out using what they know, which in turn boosts their problem solving abilities.

 Lessons and tests are adjustable to suit your child’s current ability so you can stay up to date on their progress. 

The app also offers an on-demand  dedicated tutor support system which is available 24/7. 

Maths Eleven Plus Practice Questions 

KidSmart offers free 11 Plus exam papers which you can download and go through with your child. In the meantime, here are some examples of questions that you are likely to come across: 

1. Which of the following is the most likely weight of a bag of flour?

A. 2 g B. 2 litres C. 2000 kg D. 200 mm E. 2 kg

2. Forty-seven thousand, nine hundred and eighty-three people went to a football match. What is this number rounded to the nearest thousand?

A. 47 000 B. 50 000 C. 100 000 D. 47 900 E. 48 000

3. Ibrahim is trying to work out the volume of a swimming pool. What units should he measure the volume in?

A. mm³ B.C. cm² D.E. cm³

4. Sunita has 75 pens and she ties them into bundles of 8. How many pens does she have left over?


5. What is 21.7 × 9.4?

A. 287.68 B. 532.42 C. 117.24 D. 203.98 E. 412.96

6. What is 3/5 of 60?

A. 30 B. 24 C. 40 D. 32 E. 36

7. What is the next number in this sequence? 23 35 47 59 ?


8. Rick has 15 cards. 3 of his cards are aces. Liz takes a card at random from Rick

What is the probability that Liz takes an ace?

A. 3/5 B. 1/3 C. 1/5 D. 1/4 E. 3/8

9. Becca has 3 pieces of wool to make a bracelet. One piece is 160 mm long, another piece is 26 cm long and the last piece is 0.45 m long. What is the total length of wool, in centimetres, that Shania has?

Answer: _________ cm

10. Conrad has 4 dogs. He has to buy each dog a collar (c) and six tins (t) of dog food. Which expression shows how many collars and tins of food he needs to buy?

A. 4tc B. c + 4t C. 4c + 4t D. 4(c + 6t) E. 4 + c + t


  1. E
  2. E
  3. B
  4. 3 Pens
  5. D
  6. E
  7. 71
  8. C
  9. 87cm
  10. D

What’s the difference between the GL and CEM Assessments?

GL and CEM assessments

As a parent, when researching 11 plus exams, you may have come across the terms ‘GL’ and ‘CEM’.

What are the GL and CEM?

GL and CEM are two different exam boards that are the examiners for the 11+ in the majority of regions where the 11+ is still used.

Both boards have a similar exam format and cover a large batch of 11+ topics — English, Maths, Verbal and Non-verbal Reasoning or Spatial Awareness exercises.

However, GL and CEM assessments have significant differences that will ultimately affect how your child should prepare for the exam.

To better prepare your child for taking theirs 11 Plus exams, here is some information and significant differences that separate GL from CEM. Let’s take a look at the GL Assessment first:

The GL 11 Plus

GL or Granada Learning is a body that administers the test for the majority of the 11 Plus exams. It was popularly known as the National Education Foundation for Education Research (NEFR). Granada Learning later acquired it in 2007.

GL assessment provides papers on Maths, English, Verbal Reasoning and Non Verbal Reasoning. The assessment is used by many grammar schools in the UK.


The CEM paper is written by the University of Durham and the tests are designed for selective state schools, independent schools, and selective state schools. The exam aims to prevent certain students from having an advantage over each other and they claim that the test is resistant to teaching.

The test was created as some corners felt that the GL was too predictable in nature and too easy to ‘teach to the test’.

What subjects will be covered?


The GL exam board covers several subjects at 11 Plus level. These subjects are the following:

  • English
  • Maths
  • NVR/ Spatial Reasoning
  • Verbal Reasoning

Schools typically will use a combination of the above when testing to suit their policies.


The CEM test includes up to five subjects at 11 Plus level. These subjects are the following:

  • Numerical Reasoning
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Non-verbal Reasoning

The ‘verbal reasoning’ side requires many of the skills needed to be successful in the GL English examination. Additionally, numerical reasoning tests maths skills and ability.

The CEM largely follows a lot of similar concepts to the Key Stage 2 curriculum. However, different schools and regions may differ and can decide what subjects they want to test in their 11+ exam.

What is the exam format?


Generally, it takes about 45 minutes for most GL exams to finish. The length of the test papers given to the examiners differs every year. The test is specific to subjects, including individual subjects only.

GL exams present questions in the following formats:

  1. Standard Format: Examinees jot down answers in spaces next to the question.
  1. Multiple Choice Examinees mark answers in a separate answer book.

The questions are usually in multiple-choice format, though a written answer scheme is used for verbal and math tests. 

Questions are sourced from a massive GL question bank that contains over 18,000 questions and is updated regularly.

Generally, students need to attempt around 40 questions per paper

The GL assessment stated that ‘As a result, test papers can be changed from year to year, making it extremely hard to predict what type of questions will appear in a specific test and therefore minimising greatly the effects of coaching in order to create a level playing field for all candidates – particularly those from less advantaged backgrounds. 


CEM doesn’t follow a set format and can change every year. Your child’s school may release information around the structure of the test, so it’s worth reaching out and finding out in advance.

One of the major differences between the CEM and GL is that exams are combined.

  • Maths and non-verbal reasoning
  • English and verbal reasoning

Multiple choice, standard format or a mix of the two may be used depending on how the school operates.

CEM exams are usually split into different sections. For example, a maths section, some puzzles and a problem-solving activity. Children are timed for each section so need to ensure that they spend adequate time on each part of the test.

In addition, CEM exams tend to be more content heavy, and there may be more questions than your child will be able to answer in the allotted time. In contrast, GL exams are not as long and the student should be able to complete the exam within the time.

CEM stated that ‘Our assessments are designed to enable all children to demonstrate their academic potential without the need for excessive preparation’.

Which 11+  assessment will my child be doing? 

which 11+ format

It’s important to note that schools have different preferences when it comes to the test. 

n up to date list of the 11+ boards in your region. Some schools have opted for a combination of both GL and CEM. 

This list is subject to change at the school’s discretion, so it’s always useful to consult with your child’s school in the run-up to the exams. Another important point to note is that not all schools will follow what the other schools in their area are doing.

CEM and GL: 

  • Yorkshire, 
  • Essex, 
  • Hertfordshire, 
  • Trafford, 
  • Devon,  

GL Assessment: 

  • Dorset, 
  • Kent, 
  • Lancashire & Cumbria, 
  • Lincolnshire, 
  • Medway,
  • Northern Ireland,
  • Wiltshire.


  • Berkshire, 
  • Bexley, 
  • Birmingham,
  • Buckinghamshire, 
  • Devon,
  • Gloucestershire, 
  • Shropshire, 
  • Walsall, 
  • Warwickshire,
  • Wirral, 
  • Wolverhampton.

Preparing for the CEM and GL Assessment 

Preparing for the 11 plus exam is a good platform for your children to develop the core concepts as a foundation for the next step in their education.

  1. Do your due diligence – The first part for any parent is to do your due diligence, as mentioned in the article every school is different. Spend some time consulting with the school to find out which exam board they will be following and also how your child will be tested
  1. Use past papers and apps – For the GL assessment, there are many GL assessment papers and past papers that you can use, KidSmart has put together a series of 100 free past papers for 11 plus. 

CEM is a little bit different in nature as it is supposedly ‘test proof’ and the questions are more difficult to predict. Regardless, children can refer to familiarisation papers and develop their core understanding of topics to help prepare for the exam. Exam prep is still useful for CEM but the questions on the exam will be tougher to predict.

  1. Develop your child’s vocabulary: In respect to the CEM, this test places more emphasis on developing a wider vocabulary. Here are some ways to develop your child’s vocabulary:
  • Encourage your child to read regularly around a wide variety of topics. This will broaden their vocabulary and help them learn new words.
  • Make learning fun through using apps like KidSmart, when gamification is used children don’t feel like they are learning.
  • Test different strategies on your child. No two people are the same and everybody learns from a different approach.
  1. Time Management: Helping your children understand the importance of managing time is a vital component of doing well with any exam, especially with the CEM exam.  In order to get your child ready for the exam, make sure to:
  • Ensure your child practices under timed conditions to get used to a test environment 
  • Utilise practice papers as ‘mock tests’ to help children get used to the conditions they will face in the exam. Practice makes perfect and it will give your child confidence for the actual exam.

What skills are needed?

Both tests cover different skills. The CEM assessment has a lot of crossover with the KS2 curriculum and requires a wider range of vocabulary. On the other hand, the GL assessment covers more verbal reasoning than the CEM exam.

Where can I find CEM and GL assessment papers?

As mentioned above, at KidSmart we have spent a lot of time compiling a free resource for 11+ past papers.

Simply go here, enter your e-mail and you’ll have access to over 100 past papers, completely free of charge.

Where can I learn more about 11 plus?

11 plus is a complex topic, there are so many different things to consider. That’s why we have put together a comprehensive 11 plus guide to go over any FAQ’s.


As parents, at times we can feel bombarded by all the information around the GL and CEM for 11 plus.

Whichever test your child does, it is important to encourage your children to start developing their english and maths skills from an early age.  

Regardless of the test, the core concepts will be useful for your child’s education and progression through the education system. 

We hope this guide helped and if you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to the Kidsmart team!


Non Verbal Reasoning Exam: What You Need to Know and How to Prepare

For most parents, the Non-Verbal Reasoning section of the 11 Plus Exam is the stuff of nightmares! This section is akin to intelligent tests and some of the questions presented to these 10-year-old pupils can sometimes be a challenge even to adults.

What is Non-Verbal Reasoning?

Non-verbal reasoning focuses on problem-solving through the use of diagrams and pictures. It tests a child’s ability to assess visual information and solve problems through the use of visual reasoning.

For example, children may have to look at sequences and find the next in the sequence or find the odd one out. An example of this is below:

NVR question

It is important to lay the foundations for your child’s learning at an early stage to give them the best chance of getting ahead.

Breaking Down the Non-Verbal Reasoning Test

Non-verbal reasoning test

Non-verbal reasoning covers a wide range of psychometric ability tests designed to determine how well your child can understand and visualise information to solve problems. 

These include tests related to inductive, logical, abstract, diagrammatic and spatial reasoning. For the most part, non-verbal reasoning is used to indicate where verbal competency is not the main objective of the test. For this reason, this type of test is seen as particularly effective for international assessments, since even students who speak other languages are able to access the same test material.

You would often hear about non-verbal reasoning exams in the same breath as abstract reasoning, inductive reasoning, spatial awareness, and diagrammatic reasoning tests. Although they are not fully interchangeable, they do share a common objective, which is to address your child’s ability to understand and analyse visual information.

 As such, the term “nonverbal reasoning” can be treated as the umbrella term for all of these tests and you can expect to see them in the non-verbal reasoning section of the 11 Plus Exam. 

Abstract Reasoning

This involves the ability to analyse and understand non-verbal or visual information and then figuring out how to solve the problems using non-verbal reasoning. 

Questions under abstract reasoning typically consist of patterns or sequences of shapes and figures, and then students need to be able to recognise the similarities and differences among them to arrive at the answer. 

Since they do not rely on any learned language or math knowledge, abstract reasoning tests are a very powerful tool for assessing a student’s general intelligence. 

People that do well on abstract reasoning tests tend to be critical thinkers who can  easily work out new concepts and clearly define abstract ideas. 

Inductive Reasoning

Inductive reasoning is a form of logical reasoning that involves making broad generalisations from specific observations and going from a series of specific cases to a general statement. 

Here, students are required to study provided data, make observations, identify a pattern and make a generalisation. 

Unlike deductive reasoning tests, the conclusion in an inductive argument is never guaranteed and can even be false. 

Here is an example, “Jason is an uncle. Jason has a beard, Therefore, all uncles have beards”. 

As you can see, this conclusion does not follow logically from the statements.

Spatial Awareness

Rather than test a student’s ability to understand a logical series of patterns or statements, spatial awareness tests their ability to mentally rotate images and three-dimensional shapes. By understanding shapes in different configurations and imagining them in 3D, students are better able to grasp concepts and analyse them accurately. 

Diagrammatic Reasoning

In diagrammatic reasoning tests, candidates are given a diagram or a flowchart with a set of rules, which have to be applied in solving the question. This tests their ability to extract information from a diagram and use it to arrive at the right answer. For example, a student can be shown a series of distinct shapes in a diagram and then asked what the next shape in the series should be. The candidate must then work out the rule contributed by each of the different elements, and then use it to answer the question.

Non-Verbal Reasoning Tests Outside of the 11 Plus Exam

Beyond the scope of the 11 Plus Exam, non-verbal reasoning tests are also administered by companies recruiting for positions that involve problem-solving or technical ability. 

Theoretically, high performance in a non-verbal reasoning test correlates with excellent problem-solving ability. 

That’s why it is a huge plus to kids of today that they are able to master this type of test now. 

By testing their ability to discern patterns, extract novel information, identify inconsistencies in data, non-verbal reasoning tests help children develop their critical thinking abilities faster, leading them to become more independent thinkers and doers down the line. 

How to Prepare for the Non-Verbal Reasoning Section in the 11 Plus Exam

The 11 Plus Exam is extremely competitive so in order to maximise your child’s chances of being successful in the non-verbal reasoning tests, it is important to prepare properly. Here are some useful preparation activities to consider: 

Assess Current Ability

By assessing your child’s current ability with regards to non-verbal reasoning, you are establishing a baseline and identifying key areas that need to be worked on. 

Non-verbal reasoning requires good visual acuity and quick thinking, which is a skill that comes more naturally to some people than to others. 

Nevertheless, this skill can be improved by being disciplined and systematic. You can then analyse their progress along the way.

Practice, practice, practice!

While non-verbal reasoning tests have more to do with generalised intelligence, your child will always perform better if they are familiar with the types of questions asked in the exam, along with some strategies for solving them. 

You also want to make sure your child is familiar with the given rules for each question type so that they find the answers more quickly and not panic. 

You can download our practice test packages for your child and work with them to complete as many of these as possible. 

Focus on solving one rule at a time, examining the different elements of the test as well as its overall configuration, and when they have mastered it, proceed to the next. 

Work on time management

During the early preparation stages, timing will not be as important as understanding and students can take as long as they need to solve the practice questions. 

As your child progresses down the line, it becomes increasingly important that they learn to manage their time properly.

 As the exam day approaches, start setting time limits for each question so that your child can get accustomed to the real-world exam settings and solve problems accordingly. 

Enhance their critical thinking and cognitive learning skills

Hard work and dedication are non-negotiables when it comes to preparing for any exam, but in today’s world of unlimited distractions and limited attention spans, it is more effective to study smart. 

This is especially true for the non-verbal reasoning tests, which are said to be tutor-proof. 

This simply means that even though  CEM and GL Assessment, the most widely used publishers of 11 Plus exam papers around the UK, include a fairly narrow selection of question types in their non-verbal reasoning test, they can also choose to add in new question types, such that it becomes even difficult for a tutor to prepare a child for the type of question they will be faced with. 

While it is important for your child to master the different question types, it is equally crucial that they enhance their core skills in critical thinking and adopt a self-learning approach. 

This way, they are more confident and can tackle anything that may come up on the big day.

Take advantage of learning tools 

11 plus learning tools

Today’s children spend a lot of time on their mobile devices, so why not use that medium to help them prepare for their exams?

One of the best learning tools for the 11 Plus exam preparations is the Kidsmart app. It features a series of problem-solving puzzles, games, videos, and interactive lessons designed for cognitive skills development. 

Through KidSmart’s gamification learning program, your child can improve on the skills necessary to pass the non-verbal reasoning segment of the 11 Plus. These include: 

  • Comprehension: This involves the ability to understand the facts and make sense out of the information provided.
  • Analysis: This skill helps your child break down objects or concepts into simpler parts, identify rules and find the right information for solving the problem.
  • Evaluation: This deals with the ability to make judgments based on internal or external criteria and defend said judgement with evidence.
  • Synthesis: By improving this skill, it becomes easier for your child to combine component ideas, form theories, and even propose alternative solutions
  • Application: This skill is crucial since the non-verbal reasoning test essentially requires candidates to apply learned knowledge to actual situations.
  • Increased Speed: Games typically require quick decision making and KidSmart’s games are no different. By applying this principle to learning and preparing for the 11 plus, children ultimately become faster at problem solving, which in turn boosts their confidence. 

KidSmart uses adaptive technology to identify the current ability of your child and features adjustable difficulty levels. 

This maintains the fun in learning as well as helps you monitor your child’s progress with regards to various attributes like speed, accuracy, and concentration. 

Non verbal reasoning for 11+ requires proactive parents and proactive teachers. The learning process should be gradual to help your child grasp all the necessary concepts.

Get started with KidSmart’s 11 plus guide today and help your child ace this prestigious promotional exam. 


How to Choose the Right Primary School for Your Child

Choosing a suitable school for your child may well be one of the hardest decisions you’ll have to make as a parent. Where do you even begin?  

From catchment areas and exam results to OFSTED reports and primary school league tables, there is just so much to get your head around. 

So much depends on individuality, such that it’s difficult to find a definitive guide to choosing the right school. 

Nevertheless, following these tips below can help you narrow down your options as you continue to sleuth for that perfect school: 

What are the different types of schools?

The first step to making an informed decision is to understand the different types of schools that your child can attend. This way, you can focus your research and arrive at a shortlist much faster. 

1. Single-Sex Schools

In the UK, it is not uncommon to find an all-girls school or an all-boys school. In fact, until the 1960s to 1970s, virtually all children went to single-sex schools. 

Today, however, only about 6% do as more schools have opted for co-ed, especially for students in their sixth forms (years 12 and 13).

 Still, a single-sex school can be a great idea, as supporters believe that it helps students become more focused on their studies and that it can also lead students to be less self-conscious about potentially gender-orientated decisions.

2. Specialist Schools

These are schools that focus on a particular subject area, such that they’ve become local centres of excellence in their chosen specialism.

 There are ten recognised specialities — arts, technology, language, humanities, sports, engineering, mathematics and computing, business and enterprise, music, and science. 

These specialist schools are still required to meet national curriculum requirements and provide a balanced education to all students. 

They are also obligated to follow the same admissions process as all maintained schools.

There are some schools specifically for children with special educational requirements. For example, there are specific autism schools and schools for pupils with moderate/severe learning difficulties and physical difficulties.

3. Arts Schools

Like the name suggests, art schools offer formal education in various aspects of art and design. These schools deliver structured lessons that are designed to take your child on an artistic journey from an early age. Lessons are usually age-specific and provide a holistic approach to exploring the nuances of drawing, painting, and art history. 

4. Boarding or Day Schools

Another decision you’ll have to make when choosing a school for your child is if it should be boarding or a day school. 

In boarding schools, pupils live and study within the school premises during the school year. The most attractive feature of this school type is that the learning never stops. 

Your child is immersed in an educational environment that delivers crucial lessons and skills to help them become more independent and ready for real life. Social skills, teamwork, communication, and problem-solving are just among the many learning experiences that await them through superb extra-curricular opportunities, as well as learning to cohabit with other students. 

If you prefer to send your child to a normal day to day school, you must be committed to their social life. You get to see your child every night and help them prepare for the next school day. The tuition is also much cheaper than boarding schools. 

Visit Schools and Check-Out Open Days

Open days for schools are a good way to get a ‘look-see’ visit to the school and learn more about their approach to education. 

This is important as it is a surefire way to quash doubts, answer niggling questions, and whittle down your options on the best primary schools out there. 

Sometimes, it’s a gut feeling and not based on anything that you’ve seen or heard about the school, that made you attend the open days for primary school or secondary school.

 Either way, once you and your child see the school for yourselves, meet the teachers, and gain insight into lesson plans and extra-curricular activities, you’ll be fairly sure if this is where your child should spend the next few years of their educational journey. 

Meeting the teachers and headteachers is important as it will give you an indication as to how friendly the staff are. It says a lot about the school if the staff are friendly.

What is the OFSTED rating and how should it impact your choice for your child’s school?

OFSTED is an abbreviation for the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. This independent department reports directly to Parliament.

Among its many functions, the members must perform the OFSTED inspection, scrutiny that is used to promote improvement and to hold staff and teachers to account.

After the inspection, parents and other stakeholders in the education sector receive the OFSTED School Reports and a rating system, which they can use to make informed decisions. The OFSTED rating system is how the department indicates the quality of an institution. There are four OFSTED ratings:

  • Grade 1 – Outstanding
  • Grade 2 – Good 
  • Grade 3 – Requires Improvement
  • Grade 4 – Inadequate

Needless to say, this report and rating system can quickly help you identify ideal school options for your child. 

Another important indicator is the school exam results. In order for your child to pass each class and be promoted to another class in the next academic year, they’ll have to pass promotional exams. 

So if a school reports quality CEM or 11 plus results or has good rankings in the primary school league tables, then chances are it’s a school worth considering. 

School reviews are not everything and you should factor in your personal feelings to the school when making your decision.

Where to find OFSTED school ratings?

OFSTED inspection reports and ratings can be found on their official website

The Importance of Location

When choosing the right school for your child, you’ll want to go for something that isn’t hundreds of miles away from where you live.

 It is only practical unless of course, you want to send your child to a boarding school. 

Location is one of the easiest ways to streamline your options with a simple Google search. Try some of these key phrases and start building your shortlist from there. 

  • schools near me
  • best primary schools near me
  • primary schools near me

Parent Feedback

To get a true picture of what it’s like to have your child at the school, what better way to get feedback than asking parents who already send their child to the school?

Parent school reviews are usually the most candid an account you can find. 

Schools are unlikely to flag any of the negative points about the school and you can gain useful feedback from other parents which will help guide your decisions.

 Ofsted has a useful resource called Parent View which acts as a survey about schools. 

This resource is compiled of Parents’ feedback and can give you some indication of what parents think of the school in question. Here you’ll be able to see the plus points, as well as any complaints about a school.

Does your child like the environment at the school?

You know your child better than anyone else, so this places you in the best position to decide on the next steps in their educational journey. It is important to be able to trust your gut on decisions like these instead of relying strictly on cold facts. 

Remember, you are looking for a school that will make your child’s educational experience as rewarding as possible, and for the most part, that involves listening to your child too and taking their feedback into account. 


Choosing the right school for your child need not be a daunting process. Simply follow the tips discussed above and Bob’s your uncle. 

Every school has a different environment and feel, and the most important aspect to consider is your child’s happiness. 

Can you imagine your child in school? Does your child seem happy at school? These are important questions to factor in when picking a school.

London Based Schools?

Are you based in London and thinking about sending your child to a grammar school?

We have made your life easier by compiling a list of London based grammar schools here. Here you’ll find a list of schools and some information around each school.

About KidSmart

At KidSmart, we cater to all things 11 plus, if you want to kickstart your child’s learning, you can get access to our free worksheets here.

KidSmart offers on-demand tutor support aimed at helping children with their exams. The app is useful for improving children’s spelling skills, maths skills and more.


An Introduction to Spelling for Kids

During the hustle and the bustle of preparing for the exams, spelling is often forgotten as a vital part of successful exam prep. 

Good spelling skills are important as they are the foundation of your child’s development.

Schools are now making an extra effort to help kids improve on spelling— they introduce phonics, homophones and various strategies to encourage developing skills from a young age.

 Most schools regularly conduct spelling bees, spelling quizzes, and there are also various spelling tests online.

However, we can still do a  lot more and this is why we have put together this guide, to introduce the ideas and principles that go into the foundation of your child’s learning.

Spelling words correctly can take a long time to develop so whether the exam is closing in, or your child is starting our in reception, we suggest that you start doing some regular spelling work at home. There are now various spelling apps for kids that you can easily access at your fingertips.

Also, the preparation for the 11 Plus exams is a long-term and ongoing process which is a good thing as it means that your child can study and learn everything in small, bite-sized pieces. Especially when it comes to vocabulary and spelling as these two are something they’d have to understand fundamentally as memorising would only take them so far.

So we prepared this article to help you understand how your child will learn to spell and all the factors involved.

What is Phonics?

Phonics refers to the process of teaching children to read by linking sounds and symbols. Phonics is the primary way to teach children how to read in the UK. 

Phonics enables children to develop their literacy skills and improve reading comprehension skills.

How is Phonics taught?

In the English language, words are made up of 44 sounds. Here’s a quick explanation of some of the key concepts and overview of some key phonics terms.

  • Phoneme – The smallest unit of sound. Phonemes can be broke up into vowel phonemes and consonant phonemes.
  • Digraph – A combination of two letters that work together to make the same sound (ch, sh, ph, th)
  • Grapheme –  A letter/number that represents a sound (phoneme) that’s either one letter or sequential letters. An example of a two letter grapheme is ‘leaf’. The ‘ee’ sound is expressed through the letter’s ‘ea’.
  • Trigraph – Three letters that work together to make the same sound (ear, air, ure)
  • Split digraph –  Two letters that work together and make the exact same sound, but separated by another letter. This aids children to distinguish between vowel sounds. Examples of this are cub/cube, cap/cape, tap/tape. This is otherwise known as the ‘Magic E’.

Children are taught a code which helps work out and decipher how to read words. Instead of being taught every word individually children are equipped with the skills to work out words and what they mean.

Below is an example of some phonics sounds in a simple digestible chart. The KidSmart team has separated the phonics sounds list into four different categories, each showing a different sound. 

What to expect from ages 4-11 with phonics?

The foundation of teaching phonics starts from an early age, as early as reception.

Age 4-6: At this stage of your child’s development they will utilise phonics skills that will help them spell words that they are not familiar with, and to help facilitate the learning for common and difficult words. 

The Year 1 phonics screening check is introduced during this period. The test is not formal and is consisted of two sections and 40 words to check your child’s progress. The exam aims to monitor the progression from reception to year 1.

Busy parents should consider using the plethora of apps that are now available. KidSmart, for example helps children from an early stage of their development and is a great supplement for your children’s learning. It’s important to make year 1 phonics activities enjoyable to keep your child stimulated in the learning process.

Age 6–7 

Your child will be expected to have developed some of their phonic skills and should be able to deal with more complicated sentence structures, have improved reading skills and better literacy

At this point, your child should have a better grasp of many common, and difficult words.

 At this stage, schools may introduce spelling tests, and introduce more complex homework for your children. Efforts should be made to monitor your child’s progress and assist with homework help where necessary.

Overall parents should keep their eyes on the year 2 English curriculum to get a deeper idea of how to cater to their child’s development.

Age 7–9 

Phonic skills should be used at this age to learn new words and develop their vocabulary. From the ages of 7-9 teaching on spelling patterns and the rules around them are introduced to equip children with the skillset to use when they encounter problems and difficulty.

Age 9–11 

From the ages of 9-11 with your child’s development underway, your child should be able to read, write and spell words of a higher complexity using their knowledge of phonics and how words are constructed and structured.

What are Homophones?

Homophones definition: Words that have the same sound and pronunciation but have different spelling and meaning.

Homophones are usually included in the verbal reasoning tests— it’s important to grasp these concepts at an early age.

A lot of homophones are also quite complex than the others. These complex homophones are used to see which children have a more advanced vocabulary than others.

Homophones can be hard to learn and understand but you’ll find that once the child has understood how homophones work, they improve naturally.

The only other risk is that kids can hesitate and second guess themselves when they feel stressed and pressured on the day of the exam.

Here are some phonic words — many of these have come up in previous tests.

We suggest that you use each word in a sentence to show your kid the correct meaning of each word. In the below list we’ve outlined some homophones examples below:

Homophones List

Compliment, complement

Dissent, descent

Price, prize

Course, coarse

Whole, hole

Flair, flare

Due, dew

Stationary, stationery

Bale, bail

Roe, row

Loot, lute

Sheer, shear

Leek, leak

Hair, hare

Reading can be a lot of help as your child may encounter a lot of homophones through it.

So reading is highly recommended— as it should be.

How to Develop Vocabulary: 

Children aren’t born with vocabulary. It is something that develops and grows with them. And exams are just a small fraction for the reason why your kid should develop their vocabulary.

They need it to communicate well and be able to express their thoughts, ideas, and feelings.

And here’s how you can help your child to develop their vocabulary:

  • Don’t be afraid to use big words when talking to your child They are naturally curious and there is a high possibility that they would ask what the word you just used means. They might even start to use it!
  • When they start to ask what the word means, use words that they’re familiar with to explain the word. When they say they understand it, ask them to describe the word using their own words.
  • The best way to develop and build your child’s vocabulary is still by reading. Even just 30 minutes a day is already a lot of help. Just to give you an idea, you can have them read you their bedtime stories and when they get stuck on a word, help them break it down and encourage them to say the word themselves.
  • You can also have your child tell you imaginary stories and you can ask follow-up questions that introduce new words to them.
  • You can also make use of word games like Scrabble and crossword puzzles to build their spelling skills and vocabulary at the same time.
  • Be gentle in correcting their mistakes. Your child should feel safe expressing themselves and know that it’s okay to make mistakes. Praise their attempts and use phrases like, “Did you mean…” or “I’m not sure I get it. Can you explain that to me again?”
  • Use the new words they learned at your home as much as you can so it’s reinforced.
  • You can also give your child a vocabulary list the size of 20 words each. This list should include easy and difficult words, and commonly misspelled words. Ask them to spell and define each word before they move on to the next word.
  • Don’t forget to have your child practice synonyms and antonyms, too! A dictionary is a great tool but make sure that they explain it in their own words.

What are the best spelling strategies?

Rainbow Writing

Rainbow writing makes spelling practice more enjoyable. Through the use of crayons and coloured pencils, children can create a rainbow style effect to help improve spelling and help it stick in the mind.

Sounding Out Words

When sounding out words, you say each word as slowly as possible (c…a…t), and then you say the words faster (cat). This process is called blending, words are blended together to form a sound. 

Peer Testing Buddy Work

Getting pupils/friends to test each other and practice together rather than a teacher. This puts less pressure on them and makes it harder for them  to remember words.

Pyramid Writing.

Pyramid writing starts with a letter and for each step of the pyramid, an increase in length by one letter. The letters can be rearranged but one letter can be added each round. 

The training for exams doesn’t just start when the time to take it is closing in. It’s a long-term and ongoing preparation so the best way to approach vocabulary is in bite-sized chunks. This way, the learning is more natural and practical, not to mention easier.

Common Spelling Mistakes 

There are words all teachers know that children usually struggle with— difficult spelling words.

However good the spelling program and however good the kid is, they might still get the following words wrong:






















There are a lot more but these are just some quick examples.

How KidSmart can help?

KidSmart aims to improve spellings from reception, all the way through to year 6 and the 11 plus exams. At KidSmart, you have access to many great resources, such as these free exam practice worksheets.


Developing literacy and spelling skills is not an overnight process. 

It’s important that you give your child all the support that your child needs while also letting them do the work. When teaching spelling for children, the foundation of spelling is very important and they should be encouraged to begin spelling practice from an early age.

The key to doing well is all in the preparation. Good luck!