Preparing your child for a comprehension exam

by | Nov 25, 2014 | Exams, Teach, Uncategorized | 0 comments

It is possible to prepare your child for a challenging comprehension exam at home. It’s great if you can get hold of  A GOOD A4 LINED EXERCISE BOOK or smart notebook and offer a pen that is as good as this type of  ROLLERBALL PEN.

Step one

Click on the Reading tab on the right hand side of this page and first go to ‘How to fix your child’s reading‘ followed by ‘Improve your child’s comprehension’ – particularly focusing on the Method section in this one. These steps come before exam prep.

10+ exam papers

Wonderful, printable, free papers can be clicked on here:

Kent College this appears oddly back-to-front – must have been saved back page first! It’s a great Harry Potter extract and fun to do.

Emanuel School 10+ Example 1 – the mark scheme here is easy for an adult to follow so do help with this part.

Emanuel School 10+ Example 2 – and here is another that’s equally as good

City of London School this is almost a multiple choice format, and questions are challenging and varied


11+ exam papers

There are various different formats for 11+ across the country, so before you start it is important to google your own local 11+ information and find out the style of the comprehension paper. Some are multiple-choice, some demand full-sentence answers according to a given mark scheme, and others ask for a mixture of both. Here are a number of fantastic free papers available to us online, we have given a bit of information on each, so that you can choose appropriately.

 Essex 11+ Example Comprehension This consists of a hugely-challenging classic text to decipher and a mostly multiple-choice answer booklet

Further mixed papers available for Essex pupils These are produced by the Consortium of Selective Schools in Essex (CSSE)

Visuteach published free multiple-choice paper  This one is non-fiction and answers are given at the end.

St Olave’s School, Kent The comprehension paper is alongside the maths here and answers are given at the end. The questions are challenging even though they are in a multiple-choice format. Great to practice the skill of picking the best answer from a set.

Reigate Grammar School There are a number of papers here, saved as one document so keep scrolling down for previous years’ papers. The questions are so interesting, and full sentences are required. This is brilliant, challenging stuff.

The Perse School, Cambridge This is a multiple-choice paper

11+ exam books and papers worth buying

CLICK HERE for an excellent CEM style book on amazon. This has multiple-choice answer sheets.

CLICK HERE for the first pack of GL English exam papers, there is a second pack equally as good.

CLICK HERE for a book of idioms. These do come up in comprehension questions and if your child knows what they are and how to decode a few examples, they will feel more confident if new ones come up. This is particularly appropriate if English is spoken as a second language in your household (even if it is your child’s first language).

11+ scholarship and CE papers

These papers move beyond basic fact-picking and rely on the child’s ability to use inference and deduction in their answers. There are two tricks to answering these higher-level questions, beyond the advice given in the ‘Improve your child’s comprehension’ section:

  1. Answers should be organised into bullet points, where each section starts with a new sentence on a new line. They are easier to mark this way and it will be clearer to both the child and the marker, whether the mark-scheme has been fully addressed.
  2. These papers usually ask for the child to comment on the impact of a particular piece of imagery. Tackle these by describing the image first in detail, and then it is simple to link back… see below for an example:

A white tiger is described in a poem with the line:

‘the crumpled flower of its face’

First describe a crumpled flower – delicate, spoiled, beautiful but broken, fragile, tragic… and once this is done it is clear how the poet feels about the tiger. Much easier than starting with the tiger first!

ANSWER: A flower is delicate and beautiful, and it is tragic to see it spoiled and broken. This suggests that poet feels the tiger is a fragile beauty that has been damaged by what he has seen of life.


Tonbridge School, Kent

Sevenoaks School, Kent  (scroll down to Year 7 English Papers, there are four available here)

City of London School, London

Dulwich College, London