• Experience, Knowledge, Results: A Private Tutor for 11 Plus Success

    More than half of my teaching is devoted to the 11 Plus, with students working towards schools as diverse as Highgate, St Paul’s, Emanuel, City, NLCS, Westminster, South Hampstead, Latymer Upper, The Perse, Francis Holland – pause for breath – Godolphin & Latymer, Channing, Merchant Taylors, Habs, UCS, Harrow, King’s College, Mill Hill, Wetherby, QEB, Henrietta Barnett and King Alfred, and including many of the top independent schools in the UK.

    In 2023/2024, all of my students got into all of their schools (in one case, seven schools – a tough choice to make!).

    I work in tandem with some of London’s leading tutor agencies, including Spires, Superprof (where I am an 11 Plus Ambassador) and Bespoke Tutors.

    Prepare Early

    Early preparation is key, but intervention at any stage can make a significant difference.

    The schools will often say no tutoring is required, that it takes away from a level playing field, that it risks a child being unfairly supported before entry only then to have to swim on their own, and perhaps sink, once they get in.

    It is a reasonable argument, but in my experience the very opposite is true too. Extra learning at ages 9 and 10 can have a significant accelerant effect, boosting a child’s interest, core skills, and confidence. There is no downside. Great inroads can be made now into logic, expression, understanding and creativity with deep and lasting benefits.

    In many ways, the 11 Plus is a deeply unfair hurdle, as so much hinges on its outcome yet no two children develop at precisely the same pace.

    Amazing Transformations

    I find it a joy to witness the transformation within a child’s mind and behaviour as they transit being 10: sometimes they will leap quickly into a greater maturity; at other times, they may hold on to childish ways, restlessness, or being silly when a moment requires being earnest. Yet, I have found, within this 18-24 month period, they all get there. They all change, evolve, transmogrify! It is amazing, and with each passing year that I work with kids of this age, I am enthralled by the unfolding of this process.

    The Schools’ Point of View

    As well as being familiar with the individual requirements of the schools, I spend time imagining what it’s like from their perspective. What would I look for in prospective candidates? How would I go about deciding which ones meet the requirements?

    Many of the top schools are ten times or more over-subscribed. In trying to make their selection processes more efficient, no wonder they often change their entrance procedures.

    In recent years, for example, as well as the incorporation of online testing, there has been a move towards a greater focus on the interview and a shortened writing component in the English exam. Why read a 40-minute long piece from 300 students when a 20-minute piece might do?

    Some schools interview every candidate. Others require a reference from the current school. And so on. I keep track of these shifts and adjust our focus and work programme for each school you may be applying  to.

  • Tutor and Mentor Daniel Sage

    Get in Touch

    For a free telephone or Zoom/Skype consultation, or to discuss more about your lesson needs, please call, email or fill out the form and I’ll get back to you shortly.

    Tel: +44 (0) 7974 961877

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    To book a lesson, click here

Four main areas: English, Maths, Reasoning (incl. Verbal and Non-Verbal) and the Interview

Click on each colour-coded tab for more detail


The English exam has two main topics: Reading and Writing.

Reading – can you understand what is happening in a passage, and be able to infer, deduce, reason and all the other tricks our brains get up to, to make sense of a piece of writing? The key here is to try and picture in your mind what is going on as clearly and fully as you can.

The comprehension paper may be open answers or multiple choice (which appear easier as the right answer must be one of them, but often contains there’s than one right answer – the art is to pick the “most right”!)

Writing – can you express yourself and write clearly with a wide vocabulary and a variety of phrasing?

Mostly, schools ask for a composition – a creative writing piece – but increasingly, something transactional is required too: a letter, an essay, or an article.

There is a lot of Grammar business to address too. Students are expected to know their way around all manner of rules, from punctuation to adverbial phrases to modal verbs.


The Maths exam aims to test your child’s speed, accuracy, problem solving and mental arithmetic. All the usual suspects are covered:

  • Number and place value
  • Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division
  • Fractions, percentages, decimals
  • Ratio and proportion
  • Algebra
  • Measurement
  • Geometry (properties and position of shapes, co-ordinates)
  • Statistics

I use a mix of workbooks and online exercises, drilling down in class into any elements as needed, to make sure every angle is covered, as well as practising with plenty of past paper materials.


Verbal Reasoning

Much more interesting than it seems. Around this age, the child’s mind is absorbing an enormous amount of language information and detail, while learning the profound ways and rules that link language elements together. The aim of the verbal reasoning tests is to try to measure where in this swirling miasma a child has reached.

There are many useful tips and tricks helpful in getting on top of the VR material.

I use a mix of online platforms such as Planet Bofa and Atom (rolled out at the appropriate time during the year) and some excellent workbooks. Regular practice is essential.

Non-Verbal Reasoning

NVR aims to do the same with the Maths-related aspects of the brain, and examines how a child is developing spatial and geometric intelligence. There are fewer specific exercises to do than for VR. The key is to practise, practise, practise (online, workbooks, past papers).


Comprehension in its broadest sense, using deduction, inference, extraction and the organisation of information, as well as evaluation, comparison, the identification of patterns and links, and logic. The material can be visual, numerical, written, or sometimes all three.

Reasoning papers are being used by more and more schools. The Consortium, for example, which comprises 14 London schools, brought in a new paper from September 2023, which, in their words, “goes beyond testing cognitive ability alone and seeks to discover a child’s potential in creative and critical thinking, analysis, synthesis and problem-solving.”

There is an element of scientific enquiry about all this, but really it is about thinking creatively and trying out ideas. It can seem very daunting but actually can be fun (promise).


Interview Skills and Confidence

I am a trained interviewer and the author of the guide, Interview Superpower, and have conducted many hundreds of live interviews as well as holding mock interview sessions for my students.

My insider knowledge and human-centred approach will help you feel more confident about the whole business and even – as some students have reported back – enjoy the process!

Public Speaking

I also coach for confidence in speaking and presenting in public and can help with mastering how to present yourself in all manner of situations where your best self is called for.

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  • Tel: +44 (0) 7974 961877

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  • Contact Me

    For a free telephone or Zoom/Skype consultation, or to discuss more about your lesson needs, please call, email me or fill out the form at the top and I’ll get back to you shortly.

    To book a lesson, click here

Some of the schools I have helped students into