11 Plus Preparation: 9 Helpful Secrets To Crush The Exam

PUBLISHED: September 10, 2020

 UPDATED: October 15, 2020

11 Plus Preparation

“No matter how late you start, always dream big.” — Narendra Mandadapu

This is the most comprehensive 11 Plus Preparation guide available to the present day on the internet backed by science and research.

I am going to show you the structural framework that you need to understand to pass the 11 plus exam. No matter how good the material you have in hand, if you ignore the advice given, you end up in a damp squib.

It worked for my son. Since then, I have tested, tweaked and evangelised hundreds if not thousands of friends and families with 100% success rate.

Credit goes to kids and their parents. I am just a messiah here.

If you want to JUST pass the 11 plus exam, then you can click the browser back button. You want to prepare your little one for life beyond the 11 plus then keep reading the article till the end to understand the overarching framework.

Let's get started.

1. Have A Clear Plan - B

"Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything between." — Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Having no plan is a plan to fail, yet many of us fail to plan. Forgot about Plan-B, 90% of us don't even have a plan-A. I am going to change that today. Stay with me till the end.

People with plan vs people with no plan
When you have a clear cut plan in place, it gives them the confidence to go anywhere.

In my case, as early as the 11 plus preparation started, I devise a plan - B when I don't have a plan-A in the first place.

Bizarre, I know.

Because that is the one element, we can control at the least.

Focus on the things that you have a full control than the stuff that you don't have any control — Narendra Mandadapu

Yes, that's my quote. Not copied from anywhere or twisted. It is a philosophy that served my family and me for decades.

We used to live in a place (Oxfordshire) where no grammar schools nearby. The first thing we thought was what if my son didn't get through the 11 plus exam.

We, as a family thought to sell our current property and buy a house in the new area where it is not far from where we live. I heard a new shiny school was under construction in the area.

The worst-case scenario, we all agreed to move to a new home and carry on our lives. Over time, we built a social circle around that place, so I don't want to go too far for my son's secondary school education unless...

...he hits the Bullseye (Pass the 11 Plus Exam ????)


Sit with your spouse and kids. Make a plan. Yes, involve your little one. It is UTMOST essential to make them part of your plan.

Please do not skip this step as it creates a sense of security and clear your mental fog around your preparation.

When you know a clear path, then your actions turn to outcomes. Outcomes turn to positive results. Results lead to success.

As a part of your plan if you have to move nearer to a Grammar School, then please check my video before you invest your life savings.

Video coming soon.

Benjamin Franklin once said, "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!"

2. Have A Daily Schedule

"Focused Action Beats Brilliance" — Mark Sanborn

Do you have a schedule? I mean when preparing for 11 plus, have you set a schedule for your son/daughter?

People ask me, Narendra, what do you mean by schedule?

I will come to the groovy details straight like an arrow from a bow.

Below is a schedule that I planned while my little one was preparing for the 11 plus. Luckily I am not from a military background, so we let loosen up some days. There were days where my son sheerly ignored the schedule and did nothing or binge on his iPad.

The schedule was there in place and guided him largely. We nudged him slightly when he was kind of out of sorts.

11 Plus Preparation Schedule
Need a schedule for weekday
Yes, you need to have a lighter schedule for weekdays as the school exhaust the kids. Make sure that you create a light plan on the weekday but go big on weekends.

Need a different schedule for weekend
Here you need to beef up your learning. Do not skip the activities. Exercise is a primary fuel to hold the information for longer. An active kid retains the information better than a sedentary kid.

Research showed exercise would boost memory and neuroplasticity.

Need a sperate schedule for summer holidays

Holidays are most important as kids can dedicate large chunks of time to prepare.

Atomic Smart Product highlight 06

My son used to go for a weekend swimming, so I scheduled a 2-hour English session before swimming lesson and followed by a swimming lesson and then lunch. After lunch, 3 hours of solving Mathematical problems. I followed up with a big break where we both used to play football. The day ended up with 2 hours on a non-vocabulary session.


Make 3 schedules. One for school days, another for weekends and one more for term holidays or summer holidays.

Kids are resillent they have an abudence amount of energy where you need to channel through the energy with adequate breaks. 


Taking breaks are key. Don't compromise. Adjust the timings so that he/she gets a strategical break between each subject.

3. Provide An Environment Where They Can Work Uninterrupted

"Where focus goes energy flows" - Tony Robbins

By far, this is the most important tip of all.

It is your moral, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, environmental responsibility to create a space for your little one where she/he works uninterruptedly.

Make sure they have a proper desk and natural light coming through. If you are living in an accommodation where you can't have a separate space for them to work then create a space within where they are facing a wall.

Do not compromise.

Let the other siblings know not to disturb them at any cost. It's super challenging to control babies and toddlers. It is possible If you let them know with a firm tone and repeat yourself while kneeling to their level.

Tip: Search "Super Nanny" in the YouTube.

If you have to attend a call (office or otherwise) just go out and sit in your car or corridor if you have one.

I am a developer by profession, and I wear headphones all the time to block out the noises. I almost hear nothing unless someone is really loud and noisy. I need some uninterrupted coding time to focus on my task.

Investing in excellent headphones which block the external sounds is a sound idea irrespective of your environment.

If the price is a constraint, then I would go for a cheaper option but look for the following feature: noise cancellation.

Make sure it is not corded. I mean wireless.

Buy a corded one for your toddlers, so the sound is not coming out while they are watching the cartoon show.

You should have one already, so use it. If money is a constraint, then buy a ear plug, and they work brilliantly too.

Do whichever is cheaper. Having wireless headphones is cool, but solving problems with 1/1000th cost is one heck of cooler hack that you should embrace. Always look for a hack to minimise your expenses.

Minimalism is a way of life, not a fad.

If you are from an affluent family, then I do recommend trying the noise cancellation headphones hack to create an environment that suits your little one.

Hydration is super important. Keep a water bottle on the side all the time. Buy one for yourself. You drink they drink. Just observe. Remind them.

Say like this: Hydration is important for mind and body, so let's have a sip together.

Always provide a reason. Kids should know the 'why they are doing' what they are doing.

STEP #3.1

Make sure you create a space for them to perform focused work (even if it is one corner of the room). It is the least you can do as a parent/guardian.

STEP #3.2

While working switch off all the electronic devices (or turn on Airplane Mode) and keep them OUT OF SIGHT, it means your own devices too.


You don't have to involve 100%, but you need to present 100%.

"LOVE is best spelled T-I-M-E."

— Dieter F. Uchtdorf


Providing an uninterrupted study environment is a primary task of yours, and I can't stress enough how important it is. If not adequately addressed, this alone can break or make the outcome. Yes, I am serious. You better be.

4. Keep Your Doubts At The Bay

"Your mind is always eavesdropping on your self-talk. Be careful about what you are telling to yourself!" — Unknown

One thing I heard from parents time and time again whether the time is sufficient as they started the preparation so late in the process.

4-minute mile story

Have you heard the 4-minute mile story? When Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile record, it was an impossible task to achieve.

Experts thought they knew the precise conditions of how someone can break the record.

Experts believed to break a long-standing 4-minute mile record the run should take place on a day where the weather should perfectly poise at 20°C (68°F) with no wind.

The event should take place on a track they thought should be hard, dry clay and in front of a huge crowd cheering the runner on to his best-ever performance.

What was reality? Guess!

Bannister did it in on a wet track in 3 minutes, 59 seconds on a cold day in Oxford, England, before a doubting crowd of just a few hundred.

Everyone thought it was a one of a kind miracle. You know what happened after.

John Landy, an Australian runner, not only broke the barrier again, with a better time of 3 minutes 58 seconds.

What? Yes. One more and then some more.

Within a year, three athletes broke the 4-minute mile record in a single race.

Over the last half-century, more than a thousand runners have achieved the record that had once been considered HOPELESS. IMPOSSIBLE. OUT OF REACH.

It is possible. Nothing is impossible. Everything is possible.

"When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates." — Thomas S. Monson

Kids are resilient

Keep the faith in your little one and believe when you implement all the action plans that I am writing here. It is possible.

Listen, there's no substitute for hard work, so stop looking for one.

Don't let your feelings dictate your actions.

Amateurs are obsessed with the outcome. Professionals are obsessed with action.


Make your mind up. Keep believing in your little one's ability.


Don't attach yourself to the outcome. Do hard work. Believe in the process, Follow the action plan given here and rest will be falling in place automatically.

"Expect everything; attach to nothing."

— Carrie Campbel

5. Do Not Ride On Two Boats (CEM or GL)

"If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one" — Russian Proverb

I know some parents who are making their kids appear on every exam available under the sun. It is the wrong move.

It is a recipe for failure.

When you are entering into the process so late then you have to make sure you have a specific goal so that you catapult all your energy towards one exam pattern.

"If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable." — Seneca

If you travel on two boats, then you will end up nowhere.


Decide on one stream of the exam. Stick to that throughout. You have very less time hence use time wisely.


Having a choice in hand is not always right. Choke your choice and decide on one thing and channel your energy towards that.

"I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to reach my destination." — Jimmy Dean

6. Be Prolific Rather Than Perfect

"Focus on consistency and quantity, NOT quality. Quality comes with consistency" — Unknown.

When I was preparing my son for the 11 plus success, I obsessed with the quality. I was harsh. He made numerous silly mistakes caused low posting scores in every test we conducted at home or otherwise.

I was worried. Too many mistakes to keep track. It's not that I want a perfect score but a decent score.

I was not keeping track of his mistakes is another blunder I did. As soon as he finished the test, he wanted to play on Xbox. I was sympathetic as he put hours in doing the test.

Not correcting mistakes immediately after the test was the biggest mistake of mine throughout the preparation.

You have to correct the paper immediately or as soon as possible. You have to hold them when they are in the zone. Before they move on to another subject or a play, it is supremely important to go through the mistakes with them.

Later, I changed the strategy as I purposely starved him doing the tests. I want him to go back to the basics.

Without me knowing the fact that mistakes are common, and we learn from our mistakes more than just spending time on reading concepts.

Once I believed he thoroughly revised his concepts, I started testing again.

To my astonishment, the mistakes kept on happening—more or less the same standard.

What do I have to do?

I paused.

I talked to my mentor, and he told me to do the opposite.

He told me: Let him take more tests. But you teach the concept right after he made a mistake.

I changed my strategy.

It changed the trajectory of the preparation.

  • I made him do a lot of tests. At one point he was doing various tests, nothing else.
  • I corrected as soon as he finished the test.
  • I keep track of his mistakes and revised them under a timed repetitive method

The change in strategy dramatically improved his performance and lower the mistakes as time progress.

11 plus Preparation - Prolific vs Perfect

Initially concentrate on quantity rather than quality. Quality will improve gradually.


After every test, you ask them to take a short water break.


You start correcting the exam paper immediately after finished.


Please go through the corrections with them. Make sure they understand what mistakes they did. Correcting the mistakes and explaining what went wrong is a very important task.


Keep track of mistakes.


Over the weekend, you sit down with a coffee, swift through the mistakes they did throughout the week across all the subjects.


You will see a pattern where they are making mistakes repetitively. Make a list of those mistakes. It's called Master List.


The Master List is your ticket to the golden goose. Keep the Master List at one place to revisit on a timely basis.


Create sticky note cards around the concepts that are weak and keep them everywhere. Bedroom, Hallway, toilet everywhere.


On the spot correction is an important parent task in the 11 plus preparation.


For the last three weeks, focus on quality rather than quantity.

“When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.”
— Thomas S. Monson

7. Hack The Energy With The Food

"To keep the body in good health is a duty; otherwise, we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear." — Buddha

The biggest problem I came across throughout the preparation was to manage my son's energy levels. He was too tired to learn, even the non-challenging learning.

He looked like a zombie at times. It was even worse when the day progress. I did research and found that with the current lifestyle, which is highly demanding needs a different set of food habits.

He was eating junk. What junk you may ask.

A bowl of cereal or Weetabix with milk something in those lines. The food that burns immediately and gives instant energy.

You may say, Narendra it is not junk, and millions of kids eat the same for breakfast since foragers.

Let me explain.

He's happy for an hour. As soon as the hour passes, either he's hungry or feeling lethargic. It is invisible. He looks fine on the outset.

Whatever the food he was consuming is nothing but carbohydrates with full of sugar.

"Do you know what breakfast cereal is made of? It's made of all those little curly wooden shavings you find in pencil sharpeners!" —Roald Dahl

I discussed with my doctor friend. To my surprise, he was feeding more or less the same to his kids. The reason he said was they don't want to start a day with an argument.

Fair enough.

General practitioners (GPs) are helpless. They have no clue how food works or if they have, but they don't know how to apply or not allowed to say.

Fair enough.

I started to research and consulted a few nutritionist friends from abroad.

I heard a common thread from everyone.

I made a few changes in his diet.


I am not a nutritionist and don't want to play like one. Make your assumptions. I am NOT liable. You take the below advice and tweak to your own needs.

What Changes I made?

30gms of protein within 30 minutes of the wakeup

WoW! Is that it?

Yes, That's all.

It is a super simple tip that changed the course of the 11 plus preparation.

My son threw some tantrums that I have never seen. He used to so much of the junk in the morning the resistance is unbelievable.

Somehow we managed to negotiate with a bribe which I reluctantly agreed.

Bribe: Extra 30 minutes of Xbox time.

Here is what we prepared for him for breakfast.


  • 2 Half boiled eggs (7gms of protein in each egg - 14 grams of protein in total)
  • A big bowl of low-fat Greek Yoghurt. (15gms of protein)
  • One fruit
  • A small bowl of cereal with a tiny pot of milk.

Not Mandatory:

  • Half Avacado. (optional)

Another cardinal rule:

He needs to eat five fruits a day. I make it as a norm. He has to eat fruit with every meal.

The rule is:

The number of fruit portions must coincide with the number of the meal of the day.


Yes, it is confusing. See the example.



Meal #1 (Breakfast)

Must consume 1 fruit

Meal #2 (Lunch)

Must consume 2 fruits

Meal #3 (Dinner)

Must consume 3 fruits

The number of portions will increase with the number of the meal of the day.

I made it mandatory. It went well.

In total, six different fruits consumed in a day. Problem solved. It applies to everyone in the home.

You can reverse it if you want. Tweak it and make your own version.



Meal #1 (Breakfast)

Must consume 3 fruits

Meal #2 (Lunch)

Must consume 2 fruits

Meal #3 (Dinner)

Must consume 1 fruit


Nothing on this page is like a cookie-cutter solution. Understand the overall, overarching framework and make your mark on it. Twist a bit.

Add your personality. Kaboom. You will have a solution which is working for your son/daughter.

Share your stuff with other moms and pops so everyone gets benefited. Sharing is caring.

My son hated eating fruit at breakfast, so I carefully opted the first variation.

Those are the ONLY two changes we did to hack his energy, and it worked like gangbusters.


There is nothing much to prepare here. You need an Egg Maker.

The above mentioned breakfast takes maximum 10 minutes to prepare. The fastest breakfast you can make and easy as well. You can get on with life.

To monitor and teach your little one, you deserve the same kind of good breakfast too. I highly recommend the above food for you also.

For adults, add one extra egg to your breakfast—a total of 3 eggs.


Eggs: Go for large organic eggs from a local farm shop.
Yoghurt: Make sure the yoghurt is low fat.

The result:

The slow-release energy food is so good my son lasted 3-4 hours in the morning without eating any junk.

I have seen the following improvements

  1. Higher energy levels
  2. Improved concentration levels
  3. No trips to invade kitchen in between breakfast and lunch

That reflected on his performance.

  1. Number of silly mistakes gone down.
  2. Consistently scoring more marks (due to the improved levels of concentration)

Hack the energy with the most important meal of the day, which is breakfast.


Include 30gms of protein in the morning breakfast. Cut the carbs to a minimum. Don't cut completely. Cabs are a good source of energy.

Please avoid the following things in the breakfast:

  • No sauces or ketchup or Mayonaise.
  • No fizzy drink or sugary drinks.

Have an egg maker handy. You can make 30 different types of things with eggs. Don't limit yourself with one type. Use your imagination and find what your kids like.

The idea is to hack the first meal of the day, so the energy is constantly flowing throughout the day.

Did it work? Oh, Yeah. A big YEAH.

We all follow the same grand meal plan every day. This one hack is worth a million and some. Since then, the idea served our little family well and enabled me to share my thoughts here.

Share your thoughts on the discussion board here so your story could inspire other families and most importantly next generation of kids.

About the author 

Narendra Mandadapu

I started this website to help moms and pops who need a direction to guide their little ones to pass the 11-plus. A few years back, I was exactly in your position and running around like a headless chicken. I firmly believe 11 Plus Preparation Is For Life, not a gateway to Grammar School. I am NOT a genius, but I can see things from a different perspective which helped my son to pass the 11-plus. Since then, I helped hundreds of parents. Fasten your seatbelt as principles taught here would propel your kiddos to the next generation of cutting edge creative Hogwarts rather than an army of 9-5 battalion. Are you ready for the magic?

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