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A Guide to 11+ Maths Assessment

25/08/2023 / 11+ Tuition

Maths Topics and Content

The Maths Assessment Paper

How a Tutor Can Help With Maths Preparation

Maths topics and content

The maths assessment will be based on the curriculum maths your child has learned in school. However, the difficulty will be increased for the following reasons:

  • Children will have to work at a considerable speed, for example, 50 questions in 50 minutes.
  • Accuracy will need to be very high as there are few marks for working out.
  • Word problems are very common – a question where the child is presented with a written situation requiring a mathematical solution. Children will need to work out what the problem is and apply the correct mathematical method without any hints, decoding the problem.
  • Many questions have multiple steps, possibly requiring different skills.
  • There are topics on the GL and CEM maths papers that are not covered in the primary curriculum.

It is also worth considering that although your child may have covered a topic at school, it may not have been covered in depth, at speed, or as part of word problems. Additionally, in Year 5, it is rare for children to work for 50 minutes on one assessment uninterrupted and with no direction. They will need to build up their stamina and self-motivation for the length of paper they are required to sit.

Download a free copy of our Parents’ Guide to the 11+ for a full list of maths topics children in Year 5 should cover according to the National Curriculum. Your child should be confident with all these topics.

In addition – for CEM and GL exams and possibly for exams created by Local Authorities – your child should be taught the following topics and given many opportunities for revision and practice. These topics are rarely taught in Year 5 but frequently come up in 11+ maths exams:

  • mean, median and mode
  • coordinates in four quadrants (negative)
  • algebra
    • using letters to represent numbers
    • an opposite operation to solve an equation
    • the nth term
    • word problems involving formulae
  • area of a triangle
  • angles in a triangle and on a straight line
  • area and perimeter of irregular shapes (shapes that need to be subdivided)
  • Ratio and proportion
  • Circle geometry
  • Polygons

There is no significant difference in the topics and content between GL and CEM for maths. However, it is still sensible to ensure you use the correct preparation and practice material for the exam your child will sit, if possible.

If there is no obvious provider of the maths assessment and the Local Authority creates its own exam, GL or CEM preparation material will be suitable alongside other curriculum material for Years 5 and 6.

If you are starting preparation for maths in Year 4 or at the very beginning of Year 5, you must not be alarmed if your child has not covered the material required for the 11+ yet. This is normal. Any quality educational resource aimed at Year 4 or 5 maths will have a positive benefit on your child’s progress. However, they will need to do more than their curriculum work to have their best chance at successfully approaching the maths element 11+.

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The Maths Assessment Paper

Your child will likely sit their maths assessment in one of three ways:

  • Traditional paper – the child will work out the questions on the paper and write their answer next to the question. There may be marks for working out.
  • Multiple choice/answer grid – the child will have a question paper for working out and multiple-choice answers on the paper but will then mark their answer on a separate multiple-choice grid. Children need lots of practice using these as they will be unfamiliar. There is more detail on preparing your child to use multiple-choice answer sheets in the ‘Preparing for the 11+’ blog.
  • Computer screen – some CEM test providers use a computer screen with multiple choice options to click. Children are usually given paper and a pencil for rough work.

How a tutor can help with maths preparation

 A tutor can be of great benefit here for several reasons:

  • They can conduct an appropriate baseline assessment with your child, quickly identifying gaps in knowledge, areas not yet covered, and areas of misunderstanding or weakness. These can be worked on as a priority.
  • A tutor can simultaneously consolidate the work being done in school alongside teaching new material for the 11+ with lots of practice.
  • Methods of teaching maths in school today can be very different to the methods taught even ten years ago. Tutors will be up to date with new methods used in school and can ensure any new material taught will replicate the methods used in school.
  • Tutoring provides the space to build up children’s stamina gradually. A maths paper for the 11+ can be up to an hour long. A tutoring session provides the perfect opportunity to do this in a supervised environment.
  • Children need frequent revision of learned topics to ensure that knowledge and methods stay fresh. A tutor will keep careful records to ensure which topics need revisiting and when. They will then be ready for reteaching and revision opportunities when they arise.
  • Some children work meticulously but slowly. They need to be encouraged to work faster. A tutor can perhaps show them the most efficient current methods to build up speed with timed practice.
  • Other children rush and make silly mistakes. Whilst working at speed is necessary, an experienced tutor will be able to identify mistakes that come from rushing and those that come from misunderstanding. Timed practice can also help set a sensible pace for work.

The maths homework children get in Year 5 varies considerably from school to school and will be insufficient to prepare your children for the 11+. Children will need to do additional work to practise their maths skills, gradually increasing the length and frequency of the work as the 11+ exam gets closer. See the ‘Preparing Your Child for the 11+ Exams‘ blog for ideas and suggestions for what your child can do for maths preparation.

Our Tutors

At Principal Tutors, all of our 11+ tutors are qualified teachers with expertise in the UK primary maths curriculum. You’ll get feedback after every single session to help you feel in control of your child’s learning and progress, and you can even download resources and request a recording of your tutoring session to help you remember key points later.

To learn how 11+ maths tutoring can help your child give us a call on 0800 772 0974 or you can request a tutor using our online form.


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