These interviews are not confined to private school or independent school admissions, popular grammar schools also holding interviews before or on the day of the 11+ examination. Should your child apply for a scholarship entrance at a private or independent school, they will always be interviewed. This article will provide a concise insight into what 11+ interview questions you can expect, what an admissions tutor will be looking for, and how to make your child stand out in their 11+ interview!
Everyone wants to know how to prepare their child for a secondary school interview. You should have already investigated the school which your child is hoping to attend and researched what the school values highly: this is likely to influence the tone of the 11+ interview and what questions they will ask. The questions will generally assess how well your child will fit in with the school's ethos, what your child will contribute to the school and what qualities differentiate your child from the other applicants.
So you could expect conventional questions about achievements, hobbies or leisure time activities as well as questions peculiar to the school's values, for example what they expect to achieve at the school or if they have any knowledge of the school's history. More lateral questions or brain teasers might form part of the interview, which will see how your child operates under pressure and demonstrate your child's rational or creative determination. Good examples of this type of question include, "what would you do if you were given a million pounds" or "what do you know about endangered animals and how would you preserve them".
11+ Interviews have also contained questions on current affairs, discussions on contemporary issues, for example the political make-up of a country, and discussions on a piece of writing which will be given to the child during the interview. The interviewer will also be looking for signs of interview-coaching or if the child has received academic tutoring focusing on 11+ interview techniques, so any preparations which you will naturally make for the interview should concentrate on responding naturally to questions, rather than mechanic repetition of pre-prepared answers.
Body language is also significant and your preparations should include concentrating on eye contact, firm handshakes, an enthusiastic, smiling demeanour and confidence. Asking the interviewer pertinent questions is important too, for example, after a full discussion of your child's favourite book or poem. The dress code will depend largely on the school's rubric, but will usually ask your child to attend in their current school uniform.
Ultimately the 11+ interview examines capability, compatibility and personality and while the necessary preparatory steps ought to be taken, your child should not be placed under extreme stress or over-coached, or they will not be able to demonstrate the full extent of themselves in the school interview.
Developing coping mechanisms with challenging questions is important in answering questions within the time limit. Time management schemes include organizing 10 minute breakdowns where the child takes a brief pause in whatever stage of the paper they might be to recollect and refocus. Other practices include asking the child to sit still and do nothing for however long is statistically allotted for answering a single question so they can appreciate the time limit they are given. Motivational practices based on gaming theory such as 'personal best times' with reward schemes have been proved to have largely positive effects.!
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