Dr Chris Roots set up Roots 2 Success tuition and online resources after tutoring his daughter for the 11-plus in 2010. During lockdown he has recorded 50 maths videos which are available for free on YouTube.
Top tips for maths: Speed is very important in maths, so make sure your child can quickly and competently use addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Also bear in mind that your child will be tested on the whole of the primary maths curriculum which includes topics they may not cover until the end of year 6.
Top tips for English: It’s really important to know the format of the 11-plus covered in your area. In England there is not one standard 11-plus exam. Many areas, including Torbay, where I tutor, use the CEM 11-plus test which is largely multiple choice so written English is not tested. Other areas may have an English test involving a writing task, although this is becoming increasingly rare these days. There may well be a choice of writing task which could involve writing a magazine article, letter or even a speech or perhaps a story, but don’t bank on this.
In the CEM 11-plus there is usually a multiple-choice English comprehension so it is important to prepare for this by practising comprehensions and doing plenty of reading! There are usually lots of vocabulary questions in the CEM 11-plus, but don’t try to get your child to learn from the rather spurious 11-plus vocabulary lists which you may find on the internet. Instead use more creative ways to help your child learn vocabulary.
Top tips for verbal/non-verbal reasoning: Again, it’s important to know the 11-plus format for your area. For example, the Blue Coat School in Liverpool does not use non-verbal reasoning and the Plymouth Grammar School Exams (there are two different exams, even though there are only three grammar schools!) only test English and maths.
Non-verbal reasoning is supposed to be “untutorable” but practice for this is vital, as it is not usually taught in schools. Verbal reasoning can come in various formats and specific preparation is again very important.
Are you now offering online tutoring? We changed over to online tuition during the week before lockdown started, but we are missing seeing our tutees and their families face-to-face so are looking forward to the time that we can tutor them in person again!
Online tutoring is proving very effective though and is helping our tutees with their verbal communication skills. To give our tutees an extra boost we recorded over 50 maths videos for our YouTube Channel which are available to anyone, not just our tutees.
How are the children responding to online tutoring? They are taking it all in their stride!
When should a child start preparing for the 11-plus? We generally start tutoring at the beginning of year 5, but some children start in year 4.
How many hours a week does a child need to study? It’s not really about number of hours studied, it’s about how much material the children can get through in those hours and how well they retain it. Most of our tutees are tutored individually rather than in groups and follow personally-tailored programmes with one or two hours per week of tuition together with a moderate amount of homework, either on paper or using our online platform.
Best materials to use: We use almost exclusively our own materials which are effective because they have been designed in consultation with our tutees to be fun as well as educational. We use worksheets and online tests rather than slavishly following workbooks so tuition can be tailored to individual children.
How long have you been a tutor? I started tutoring my daughter who took the 11-plus in 2010. She is now about to start her third year at university!
Price of tuition per hour: £30 for individual tuition; £20 for group tuition.
Website: Roots to Success