11 Plus Home Preparation – 11 Plus DIY

11 Plus DIY (as it is often referred to), is essentially the process of using bought in resources (books, papers etc) to prepare your own child at home.

Who is 11 Plus DIY suitable for?

Preparing a child yourself is something that a large number of families do and it can work very well.

However it is quite true that while some preparation routes are right for some families , they are entirely wrong for others.

What families would 11 Plus DIY be suitable for?

Here’s a brief synopsis of the type of family that 11 Plus DIY preparation might suit best, it’s important to realise what you might be getting into before you make the leap:

–          You’ll need to have the time available to buy the right resources, and plan what you are going to be doing each week. This may take no more than twenty minutes but without a good plan all programmes fail.

–          You’ll need to be available (not necessarily sitting with your child) but available, for somewhere in the region of 2.5 to 5 hours per week (depending on how much work you are doing)- this is the typical average amount of work at home children will do during the final year.

–          You’ll need to feel comfortable marking work and giving feedback (it’s not difficult and many parents enjoy it but you need to recognise that it needs to be done quickly and efficiently to have benefit- marking and feedback is one of the key elements that help learning).

–          You’ll need to be sure you can make a plan and stick to it, you will be the leader in the process. Some families do very little preparation but make sure they deliver what they set out do, which is the critical point. False starts and biting off more than you can chew often leads to failure.

–          You need to be sure you can have a decent working relationship with your child. Things obviously won’t go smoothly all the time and every preparation programme has its ups and downs but nonetheless  tempestuous relationships tend not to be helpful when doing preparation at home.

So in short you need the time to plan and mark and be there to support and you need to have a normal calm relationship with your child (occasional fireworks excepted), and crucially you need to be the type of person who completes things and doesn’t tend to drop them. These are the traits that tend to deliver the best home preparation results…….. entering into the process hoping you might have some fun along the way also helps.

Advantages of 11 Plus DIY home preparation.

The biggest advantage of home preparation is that you can tailor the work to suit your own individual child. If you find their tables are weak or their vocabulary is weak or they have no clue about fractions you can focus on those individual elements. When they start doing test papers you can really focus on their weaker areas whether these are exam  related like timing and accuracy, or knowledge related.

While it is at the cheaper end of the scale those parents who it works for think of home preparation as the gold standard. Many wouldn’t send their child to Group Tuition if it was free simply because they feel the process of working individually with their child produces a very tailored experience when delivered properly. Again, just because it is at the cheaper end of the scale doesn’t mean it is worse than any other form of preparation and in fact for some  children and some families it is the best option going.

Other advantages are as follows:

–          No travelling time to and from groups.

–          No fears about understanding how your child is doing- you see it every day.

–          You share the process with your child which is a valuable experience.

–          No surprises (such as being told your child isn’t doing well enough when it is too late to do anything about it).

–          You can do what you need to when you need to. You can work harder at some times to make up for less work at others.

–          You can go on holidays and not fear missing a crucial tutor session , because you have the control of the schedule.

Disadvantages of Home Preparation

Of course as with any of the other routes of preparation there are disadvantages , home preparation isn’t right for every family.

–          You have to spend time understanding what to do when yourself. You have to find out which books are right and which not. (we hope we can help most of this become less of an issue because we recommend what to do when, but it is still an issue for some). Go to our 11 Plus Exam Papers and Books by Grammar School Region for help with which books to buy. Instead of using books we do also suggest the option of using a structured course which takes away the whole problem of choosing which books to buy.

–          You will have to spend time organising work and making sure that when you do ask your child to work everything is ready and there are as few barriers as possible to working. In our Exam Papers and Books section you’ll find guides to help you see how you can plan your work. We have Free Preparation Guides in each Exam Papers and Books section which can help this process. Alternatively, the issue largely goes away if you use a structured course as all the organisation is already done for you.

–          You will need to be there for them. Much of the work children can do by themselves but you do need to be there for them, not there for them when you finish some work, or when you end a call but there for them when they need you. Being immediately available to help takes discipline but in our experience children otherwise become demotivated. They need to feel you are there and sharing the process with them.

–          You will need to mark work when it is done. This is the best time to give feedback. Again it means making time available at the right time. If feedback is left to the next day it is much less effective.

–          Keeping calm can be difficult. The process just doesn’t work if it becomes a fight and some families if they are true to themselves would tell you that their preparation was doomed to failure because parental time couldn’t be delivered, plans may have been overly ambitious and they knew that the preparation couldn’t survive fractious relationships.

Costs of 11 Plus DIY Preparation

Costs are at the cheaper end of the scale and actually depend on how much you want to do or can do and how much your child needs.

If you are a family who believes your child is reasonably advanced and just needs some help with a few papers at the end then you might want to do something like four papers on each of four topics in the last say eight weeks (this would be a very gentle familiarisation exercise)- Cost is likely to be something like £50 in total. Children would need to be extremely bright for this to work in competitive areas.

If you want to do a little more and perhaps buy some text books and do them first before doing a few papers then costs would rise. If you plan to work over the summer holidays doing some familiarisation learning work first and then some papers working perhaps for an hour each day during the week then the cost might be something in the region of £100.

If you want to work for longer (which is what most people do) and do some preparation work involving going through the syllabus with the help of the right books and building up skills such as vocabulary and spelling and learning VR and Non-VR techniques in a systemised way then the cost will increase. The average spend of people who decide to work at home is somewhere between £250 and £350.

Many parents find it useful to also try and add in some other elements such as mock days (where children go to a location and take a test as if it was the real thing). These can cost something in the region of £30-£50 depending on supplier.


If you have the time to do the job properly and a child who responds well to working at home then this can be the best of all possible solutions for you.

It is important though to have a plan you know you can deliver (rather than something that is too ambitious) and to stick to what you decide to do.

Use this site to help you structure a plan that results in you using the right materials for the test your child will sit.

Many families who do preparation at home find that the process is very rewarding if done properly. There will always be difficult moments (as there are with any preparation route) but in most homes they soon pass.