English- comprehension, creative writing and verbal reasoning- what is it all about?
Posted on 28th November 2022
My 11 plus students passed all of their 11 plus tests in October, 2022. They worked extremely hard and stayed focused throughout the year. Parents were on-board with learning every step of the journey; we worked together as a team, with feedback after each session, keeping parents informed throughout.
Having further discussions with the parents of my students, they informed me that some of their friends’ children did not pass the 11 plus and those who did, their scores were lower than their children’s. The subject which was the biggest challenge was verbal reasoning and English.
Many of my students’ parents have often say that English is not their first language and therefore they do not always speak correctly; invariably their children speak and write in the same way. This can be an issue; often I hear my students’ saying ‘me and my friend’- the correct grammar is ‘my friend and I’, or using the word ‘there’- a preposition- in their sentence, when they mean their- possession, or ‘where’ when they mean ‘were’ or write ‘I writ the letter’- a writ is a formal written order- when the sentence should read ‘I wrote the letter’.
The 11 plus comprises of comprehension, verbal reasoning and creative writing. Comprehension is reading text and answering questions about the text. More importantly, it requires the student to infer text as the answers may not be obvious and has to be interpreted.
Creative writing requires the student to write a story, a report, a leaflet or a letter. The topic is dependent on which test the student is taking.
Verbal reasoning tests students on antonyms, synonyms, grammar and punctuation, amongst other topics. Reading a variety of age appropriate books is crucial to developing students’ language skills, increasing their word bank, understanding different story characters, scenarios and themes. Reading allows children to delve into a world of fantasy and escape to a new world of words.
I usually tutor on a one-to-one basis; I have decided to start a small group, 12 week online session, in the new year, targeting year 4 students to brush up their English techniques, knowledge and build their writing skills and confidence. I feel this would be a great benefit before starting 11 plus preparation in year 5.
I’ve tutored students over many years, some whom did not enjoy writing. I currently tutor year 5 students who feel the same. I recall tutoring one of my students a few years ago in English -creative writing- which was not her favourite subject. After a few months of writing different story topics and building on her writing skills, we saw a tremendous improvement. The ‘Big Write’ which is a six week writing session started slowly and then improved as the weeks continued. She went on to receive a head teacher’s award for her writing at school, she passed the 11 plus, then decided to go to Cobham Hall School, an independent day and boarding school for girls.
Reading should begin early and it should be made fun. Reading can be shared, lasting for about 20 minutes and building longer reading times as your child gets older. I encourage my parents to discuss what their child has read with them, talk about the characters, scenarios and themes, and how how the story could have be written differently.
For more details about year 4 group tuition in English and verbal reasoning, please complete the enquiries form through the website.
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