Book reviews - Eleven Plus Exams

"Eleven Plus Exams are specialists in selective school entrance exams and a market leader in their field. Their website, is the largest in the UK hosting UK's largest online forum and attracting over 3 million visitors annually. The First Past The Post(R) series has been created by a team of experienced tutors and authors from leading British universities including Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College London. The books have been well-received by schools, tuition centres and parents. The company has over 12 years' experience in the field of 11 plus exams and the expertise to produce specialist practice materials. All of the publications are rigorously tested and many of them offer a unique PeerCompare(TM) service to help benchmark your child."  We've just reviewed a few books - see the whole range on the Eleven Plus Exams website.

11+ Essentials English Comprehensions: Non Fiction Book 1 (First Past the Post)

English comprehension tests are found in many 11 plus and common entrance exams. As always, parents should check with their child's current or prospective school for the exact format of the exams, as there are many different styles. This book contains extracts from non-fiction literature and the questions are in multi-choice format. Comprehension is a skill that has benefits much beyond just exam preparation so this book has all-round value and relevance. It's especially useful to see non-fiction texts as often children will respond better to these - especially when they are on topics that interest them. These tests are based on conventional classroom testing sessions, and represent the standard comprehension section of multi-discipline CEM style 11 plus exams, providing good practice for all examination boards. Extensively road-tested by Eleven Plus Exams, all 11+ Essentials tests are best used as real exam practice to benchmark a child's performance. They are perfect for use both in the classroom and at home.

11+ Essentials English: Mini-Comprehension Fact Finding (First Past the Post)

This book is well structured with a good balance of both fiction and non-fiction topics. The answers and explanations provided at the end are helpful for reviewing answers and correcting any errors. Each topic takes 10-15 minutes, making them ideal for extra practice at the end of the school day, without making children feel over-burdened. Each test is just one A4 page, part text and with six questions. These short tests are ideal for practice from well before Year 6, so children build up experience and skills, enabling them to tackle the longer comprehensions required for the actual test with confidence.The very valuable online service offered by Eleven Plus Exams helps to identify areas for improvement and, crucially, to gauge relative progress. 

11+ Essentials English Mini Comprehensions: Inference Book 1 (First Past the Post)

Inference is reading between the lines and looking for clues in the text.  Regardless of the exam board or style of text, there will always be questions to test children's inference skills under timed pressure. These questions typically comprise 20% of comprehension questions and test the reader's ability to interpret and extrapolate information from clues in the text; a key skill which has many applications. The questions in this book are all inference-based, and with 50 extracts and 300 questions per book, this series will test and develop your child's inference abilities. It's excellent to see such targeted books, as parents can choose those which suit their child's specific needs and the exams which will be taken. 

11+ Essentials English: Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar Book 1 (First Past the Post)

Knowledge of spelling, punctuation and grammar is key to 11 plus and Common Entrance exams.The questions in this book have been designed to replicate the last three sections of the current Granada Learning 11 plus English test. There are three topic-based chapters, each of which contains a total of 15 exercises and focuses on one of spelling, punctuation or grammar. At the end of the book, there are three mixed tests, each of which contains three exercises and is designed to provide timed practice. Each chapter and test contains an excellent range of text styles including classic fiction, contemporary fiction and non-fiction. Extensively road-tested by the Eleven Plus Exams centre, all First Past the Post 11+ Essentials books are perfect for use both in the classroom and at home. Useful to highlight areas that need extra help, this targeted book offers plenty of practice.

11+ Puzzles Vocabulary Puzzles Book 1 (First Past the Post)

A good vocabulary has an enduring value that goes way beyond exam preparation, so this book will be useful whether preparing for CE and 11+, or looking to extend classroom learning. Typically, verbal reasoning is not taught per se in state primary schools, so books of this nature are invaluable.  The Vocabulary Puzzle Book aims to test a child's knowledge of synonyms, antonyms and homophones in a fun and engaging way with crosswords and word searches; these skills will enhance all forms of descriptive writing. The book contains four sections: Synonyms, Antonyms, Homophones and Mixed Puzzles. Each of these sections is organised into three difficulty levels: Easy, Intermediate and Advanced. There is a handy Word Jotter and definition section on every page, which is there to ensure the child is actively looking up words they do not understand. There is also a proverb at the end of each page to enhance their knowledge of the English language; this is a nice extra which children will enjoy. There's also a progress chart. The questions are standard format.

11+ Essentials Verbal Reasoning: Vocabulary in Context Level 4 (First Past the Post)

11+ and CE exams typically contain questions to test breadth of vocabulary and ability to infer meaning for previously unknown words. This book contains intentionally difficult and unfamiliar vocabulary to encourage students to infer the meaning of new words from the context of the given classic or contemporary passage; it's an excellent extension of standard classroom work which will also benefit children working above expectations. The Vocabulary in Context series of books increase in levels of difficulty so as to encourage consistent, long-term development of reading and comprehension skills - it's a really comprehensive set of books with practical progression. The purpose of this book is to develop the important skill of reading in context and not just for memorising new vocabulary. This book targets the key skills involved in verbal reasoning and comprehension and is a unique and form of study for the 11 plus. This book also includes an interesting word origin or idiom on each page.

11+ Essentials Verbal Reasoning: Vocabulary Book 1: First Past the Post

A versatile and well-developed vocabulary is a vital component of 11 plus and Common Entrance exams. Pressures on classroom teaching mean it can be one of the more difficult to attain. This collection of multiple choice tests, based on conventional classroom testing sessions, is representative of the verbal reasoning type questions of multi-discipline CEM style 11 plus exams. A range of vocabulary topics and question styles identify and reinforce the use of synonyms, antonyms and homonyms providing the confidence to answer questions that test and explore vocabulary. Extensively road-tested by Eleven Plus Exams, all 11+ Essentials tests are best used as real exam practice to benchmark a child s performance and to identify areas for improvement.  The suggested time for each paper is based on data obtained from conventional classroom testing sessions; children shouldn't be pressurised by time, certainly initially, but should be given the opportunity to build and develop skills.  Provides ample training for any level of 11 plus exam and familiarisation and realistic practice ahead of the tests to build knowledge and confidence, and ensure success. The multiple choice format is good for giving experience of this type of question style.

11+Essentials Non-Verbal Reasoning 2D Book 1

As with Verbal Reasoning, Non VR is not generally covered in state primaries, so children need additional practice to face tests and exams with confidence. Papers are additionally very valuable for children who may not be being stretched in the classroom. This 11 plus non-verbal reasoning book provides practice for 2D questions which are a common component of 11 plus and Common Entrance exams. This book comprises 15 topic-based chapters, with each testing a different question style. Within each chapter, is an example questions followed by 10 practice questions. The questions build and develop visiospatial and pattern-identification skills. Of particular note are the useful explanations which form part of the answers - these are really useful for establishing principles and when children are new to this form of question, it's very useful for parents to work through some questions together initially.

11+ Essentials - 3-D Non-verbal Reasoning Book 1 (First Past the Post)

This 11 plus non-verbal reasoning book provides practice for 3D questions. 3D non-verbal reasoning sections have been become common in contemporary multi-discipline 11 plus and Common Entrance exams. This book covers the most commonly-occurring question styles: 3D Views, 3D Composite Shapes, 3D Cube Nets and 3D Plan Views - these tests really make children think and they are very enjoyable. Each question style is covered by its own chapter, and the book ends with four mixed tests, each containing all four question styles. When looking at school places, parents often want to see where their child is in relation to their peers (although each must be treated as an individual and standards vary greatly between cohorts, so any figures must be used with caution) and the online Peer-Compare system is useful for this. As with all the books in the series, the pages are well laid out and easy for children to use, building confidence.

Numerical Reasoning: Quick-Fire Book 2 (First Past the Post)

This 11 plus numerical reasoning book provides practice for standard-format quick-fire style questions; it's excellent for encouraging quick thinking, with skills that readily transfer to mental maths. Numerical reasoning involves the interpretation and analysis of worded questions. Quick-fire questions are akin to traditional short maths questions and in this book cover the key mathematical topics. Typically, the questions in exams contain a combination of multi-part questions which can require several conclusions to be drawn from one set of information and needing logical thinking skills. These questions do an excellent job of encouraging children to think beyond the obvious. Each numerical reasoning test comprises ten tests, made up of twenty short questions. The answers include an excellent level of detail to help develop understanding and confidence.

11+ Essentials Mathematics: Worded Problems Book 1 (First Past the Post) The numerical reasoning section of of exams set by, amongst others, NFER, CE, GL and CEM typically contain a combination of worded problems. These require, in addition to maths skills, reading comprehension. Children will be expected to be confident in manipulating data and answering quick-fire questions; these test a child's raw mathematical ability and mental arithmetic. The varied coverage of this well presented book helps develop the skills required to solve mathematical worded problems, with 14 chapters, each representing a key group of related topics, each divided into three levels of difficulty: easy, intermediate and advanced. This is a practical approach, enabling children to build confidence by working at the level right for the individual.

11+ Essentials Mathematics: Mental Arithmetic Book 1 (First Past the Post)

Mental arithmetic is an area where practice really pays off - repetition is key to building a real confidence so children can have immediate recall and response to these questions. The questions (20 tests, each with 30 questions) provided in this book are intended to work to developc the skills required to sit the numerical reasoning sections of any exams sat at age 11, and will be valuable practice for SATS. The suggested time for each paper is based on data obtained from conventional classroom testing sessions; it's a good target to aim for but do let children build up knowledge and confidence too. The answers contain plenty of detail to explain just how the correct answer is reached and I especially like the glossary which aims to help children build a good mathematical vocabulary.

11+ Essentials Mathematics (Multiple Choice Book 1)

This book provides realistic exam practice for 11 plus and Common Entrance exams, giving children the confidence that comes from familiarity. These papers are ideal to benchmark children’s performance in readiness for the actual 11 plus exams, to show how they are performing and to allow extra support and encouragement to be given in necessary areas. The format of the book provides the opportunity for children to become familiar with the question and answer layouts of the actual exams; the multiple choice format may not be familiar to children, so this is a valuable learning curve. There are four multiple-choice papers, each containing 50 questions, and the recommended time is 50 minutes per paper. The questions in this book consist of nearly two dozen style of maths questions covering the most commonly found types - this coverage is well planned and effective. The explanations of the answers are especially valuable. 


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