I’ve been getting some questions recently from parents concerned about 11 Plus maths, so I’ve put this post together for any others out there who are feeling a little lost regarding the best way to help their child. In this post, I’ll share the topics needed for 11 Plus maths, as well as study tips and recommendations for the best materials (plus links to some freebies!).
How Important is 11 Plus Maths?
Maths is a huge part of the 11 plus exam in almost every region, and usually makes up at least 30% of your child’s final mark. For this reason, it’s really important for your child to feel confident in this area.
11 Plus maths is tough to conquer, even for children who are generally strong in the subject. Part of the reason for this is because it’s such a broad subject area. From percentages, to perimeter, to probability — there are any number of maths topics your child could be tested on in the exam.
Another reason why 11 Plus maths is so tough is because the level required is so high. Typically, the maths in the 11 Plus exam will exceed what’s ordinarily expected of students when they first enter Year 6. This can be really daunting for children, and quite understandably so!
11 Plus maths is so challenging because the exam is designed to eke out those students with the highest levels of ability. It seems cruel, but if the exam tested using only maths questions that most students would be comfortable with, it would be very hard to distinguish those who would most benefit from the highly academic environment of a Grammar school. Maths in the 11 Plus exam does typically cover a range of difficulty, however, so it’s not likely to be 100% terrifying!
How Can My Child Stay Confident When the Level Expected For 11 Plus Maths is So High?
A lot of parents worry about their child’s confidence levels when they’re preparing for the maths part of the 11 Plus exam. And they’re right to do so — there’s a real danger that children will struggle to feel capable when they’re tackling topics above what’s usually expected of their age group. Maths can be a sticky area for a lot of children anyway; once a student’s confidence has been knocked the first time, there’s a tendency to give up, claiming they just don’t get maths. I understand this all too well, I went through exactly the same thing at school myself. I honestly thought I was completely incompetent in maths through most of my school years (thankfully, I wasn’t!) all because my confidence was knocked early on.
Your own child’s confidence is paramount because it plays a huge part in their overall happiness. Self-belief is also a key tool your child will need in order to succeed in their 11 Plus exam, so it’s really important not to overlook this.
If your child is struggling with their confidence in 11 Plus maths, be sure to console them with some positive reinforcement. Remind them that they’re studying some high level stuff, and that means it’s perfectly fine if they don’t get it right away. Also remind them of how well they’ve done already, or of a time in the past when they were sure they couldn’t do something, then went on to nail it anyway!
In practical terms, if your child is getting themselves worked up during their 11 Plus maths study, the worst thing you can do is reprimand them or keep pushing them at that moment. Take a breather, let them run around outside, and try again once everyone has calmed down.
If your child is really struggling with a topic, it may be best to go back a step and try a few easier questions so that they can build their confidence back up enough to go back to it.
Now that I’ve given you my two cents about 11 Plus maths confidence, let’s talk study.
Which 11 Plus Maths Topics Does My Child Need to Cover?
Here’s a list of general maths topics that your child is likely to come across in their 11 Plus maths paper:
– Properties of Numbers (factors, multiples, prime numbers etc.)
– Area and Perimeter
– Measures and Conversions (capacity, distance etc.)Averages (mean, median, mode, range)
– 2D Shapes
– 3D Shapes (including nets and volume)
– Data Handling (charts and graphs etc.)
– Reflection and Rotation
You may understandably be freaking out right now… that’s a LOT of topics. Try not to panic, though. Remember that your child will be studying most of these at school anyway, so much of the study your child does outside of school will be revision and extension of what they already know.
Tips for Successful 11 Plus Maths Study
1. Get the Basics Covered First
There is absolutely no point diving in to more complex maths topics like algebra and ratio unless your child has a really strong foundation in mental maths first. Most 11 Plus maths problems will require your child to apply their basic, key maths skills in different combinations, so they will be MUCH more able (and much faster!) at the harder stuff if they have the basics covered first.
By ‘the basics’, I mostly mean the key mental maths skills such as: addition, subtraction, division, multiplication and number bonds.
Tip: Apps can be a really great way for your child to boost their speed and accuracy in mental maths. Most children don’t see apps as ‘work’, and they provide a bit of variety in what is otherwise a very repetitive cycle of practice and revision. Type in ‘mental maths apps’ on the App Store/Google Play Store to have a hunt through what’s out there, but Squeebles and Math Vs. Zombies have been personal favourites of some of my students.
2. Practise Problem Solving
Most of your child’s 11 Plus maths questions will involve a problem that requires them to recognise which mathematical concept they need to apply to get the answer. For example, if they’re asked to ‘share equally’, they should recognise that they need to divide to get the answer.
The more practice maths problems your child completes, the easier it will be for them to recognise how to solve future problems. 11 Plus practice papers are good for this, as well as general 11 Plus maths study books (keep reading for some more specific recommendations).
3. Use a Mix of Study Materials
Your child will get the best results if they prepare for the 11 Plus using a range of maths study materials.
For example, practice papers are great, but using only practice papers means your child is likely to keep making the same mistakes. It’s a good idea to incorporate different worksheets, videos and quizzes into your child’s maths study to make sure they are tackling subjects from all angles.
Remember that speed comes after understanding; your child needs to develop their understanding in the various maths topics before they can use practice papers to speed up.
4. Don’t Forget the Other Subjects
This isn’t a maths specific tip, but it’s really important for your child’s overall success in the 11 Plus!
If your child is weaker in a certain area of their 11 Plus study, it can be really tempting to focus solely on that. However, it’s crucial that you don’t do this. It’s fine to dedicate a little more time to weaker subjects, but ignoring the others will likely weaken your child’s skill in those areas, even if they are generally strong in the topic. What’s more, it does wonders for your child’s confidence if they get to spend time on things they’re really good at as well as things they struggle with.
The Best 11 Plus Maths Study Materials
The shops and the internet are awash with 11 Plus maths study materials, but this doesn’t necessarily make it an easy subject to prepare for!
The best advice I can give to start with, is to make sure that the materials you use are at the right level. Your child needs to start their study at the level they’re at currently, not at the level they need to be at eventually. You’ll then build up to proper 11 Plus level from there. Talk to your child’s teacher if you’re not sure of your child’s current ability in maths.
As a starting point, Bond books are great for building key maths skills. They also come in different age ranges, so your child can steadily work their way up to a higher level.
CGP also offer some great maths workbooks, and these too are staggered by age group so your child can work their way up through levels of difficulty.
You can also find some 11 Plus maths papers free online. I’ve linked a couple below:
We also have a load of free maths resources on the FSL website, from practice papers to worksheets in more specific areas. You can sign up and download them for free here.
If you want to make sure your child is studying exactly the right topics at the right time and in the right quantity, you may like to sign up to FSL 11+ Online. This is my online platform, and I’ve been working on it for a couple of years to make sure that decent 11 Plus help and preparation is available at a reasonable price.
FSL 11+ Online costs £14.95 per month and includes a full 11+ study course covering every maths topic needed for the 11 plus exam, at the right level. Materials are made up of video tutorials, downloadable practice worksheets, online quizzes and practice papers, so you can be sure your child is covering all bases when it comes to their 11 Plus maths preparation.
If you think it will be useful to your child, you can sign up here, and you’re free to cancel at any point if you no longer want your subscription.
I really hope you found the above advice useful, and I wish your child the best of luck with their 11 Plus maths prep!