Our approach to teaching

Eleven plus exams traditionally consist of two or more test papers. The most common four subjects that are tested are verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, maths and English.

Our course syllabus follows the same structure as the eleven plus exams used by the schools in the Croydon, Sutton and Kingston areas. Currently, both the girls’ and boys’ exams are split evenly between English and maths, with some Croydon area schools testing on verbal and non-verbal reasoning. To reflect this, we spend half of our lesson time on English and half on maths, with some verbal and non-verbal reasoning classes at our Croydon centre. Should the exam change in the future, our course syllabus will be updated accordingly.

 Every week the children will receive a classwork booklet for each lesson and a piece of homework for the next week's lesson. If you are attending the Sutton centre yet applying to a school outside of Sutton, you may also require verbal or non-verbal reasoning material. Whilst we do not cover these subjects in lessons at the Sutton centre, we have experience in teaching them and can provide advice and material. Our workbooks for these subjects can be bought online at amazon.co.uk by searching “Test Teach reasoning.”


Most primary schools do not teach maths to the level required by the 11+ exam, and children are often required to use mathematical techniques that they simply have not been exposed to in the classroom. To ensure our students aren’t surprised by unfamiliar topics on the day of the exam, we dedicate the first half of our course to topic-based lessons that focus on particular skills and subjects such as probability or fractions. These lessons provide your child with an understanding of areas that they may only have covered superficially at school, if they have covered them at all.

In the second half of the year, we focus on understanding worded questions. While mathematics in primary school is often taught using simple numerical equations, the questions on the 11+ exam are typically worded problems using real-life examples, which usually require multiple steps to solve. It can be difficult for children unfamiliar with the format to understand what is being asked of them, and so we teach children to break down these worded problems into simple arithmetic, revealing the basic equations that underlie seemingly-complicated questions.


Our English course is designed to familiarise children with the three most common test formats found in the 11+ exam: multiple choice, written comprehension, and essay writing.

Our weekly lessons test children’s reading and comprehension skills with a variety of short- and long-form questions modelled on those found in the 11+, as well as helping them familiarise themselves with exam techniques. These lessons are organised as part of a larger syllabus which covers such topics as grammar, literary techniques, and logical analysis.

Children at this age have generally had little opportunity to practise the sort of long, structured essays and stories that are called for in the 11+, and so we set regular writing assignments for tests and as homework. This written work is marked and annotated using an assessment system designed to simulate those used by the examiners of the 11+ exams, pointing children towards the specific areas where they can improve. Reading is also a critical part of a child’s English skills, and so we provide a booklist to help your child continue their progress outside of lesson time.

Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning

Verbal and non-verbal reasoning have been phased out of many of the schools in the Sutton and Kingston areas, yet is still required by some of the schools around Croydon. As such, only our Croydon centre provides taught verbal and non-verbal reasoning lessons. Since more girls' than boys' grammar schools require verbal and non-verbal reasoning, the girls’ course in Croydon is divided roughly equally between English, maths, verbal, and non-verbal reasoning, while the boys’ course is largely English and maths with a smaller proportion of verbal and non-verbal reasoning. While there are no taught verbal or non-verbal reasoning lessons in our Sutton centre we can still provide some material on demand.

We have had a long experience of teaching verbal reasoning to children and we draw on a large reserve of material and knowledge to ensure children are familiar with all the techniques and question types that come up in these exams. Verbal reasoning tests a child’s vocabulary, grammar and logic skills, requiring children to recognise patterns, draw connections, and identify missing words and letters. While a lot of verbal reasoning material is focused on rote learning and memorisation, our course is designed to get children to recognise and understand the underlying skills that verbal reasoning demands.

Non-verbal reasoning can be very difficult to understand without the proper preparation, and children encountering this sort of material for the first time are often confused and uncertain how to even begin approaching the test problems. Many of the problems use meaningless shapes or symbols, which can be off-putting to students used to more traditional question types. Non-verbal reasoning papers require students to identify patterns and similarities between shapes and objects, and the questions asked bear little relation to the sort of maths or geometry problems they are set in school. However, the questions are rarely too difficult in and of themselves, and by familiarising children with these questions and getting them to see past their unusual presentation we allow them to get to grips with the underlying problem itself.