Alex studied Maths and Music at Edinburgh University and since then has been tutoring students for 11+ , GCSE and A Level. He is passionate about mentoring the children he teaches, giving them self belief, the confidence to experiment and learn how to approach problems.
A boy in year 5 was approaching his 11+ entrance exams and both he and his family had set their hearts on Westminster School. From recent tests I could see he would need to do all I could to stretch him if we were to reach the high standards Westminster expects.
He had a wonderful appetite for reading which really helped; every week I would set him the task of writing down his favourite passage of text and together we would work out what he enjoyed about the text (often humour or the building of suspense). Through enjoyable discussions we broke down the techniques the author employed to achieve these effects along with the structuring of a story, character development, and other tricks to help draw your reader in.
The analytical tools these discussions developed were useful for both English Comprehension and Creative Writing exams; I was very pleased when I heard that all our hard work paid off and he was offered a place at Westminster.
A 10-year old boy coming into his 11+ exams was applying for a few schools with King’s Wimbledon his top choice. After going through a sample 11+ paper I diagnosed the boy with something actually rather common among the more boisterous of his age: that of overconfidence. Unfortunately his eagerness to complete the problems as quickly as possible and be declared ‘a genius’ did not translate to a convincing mark when confronted by the rigid and inflexible laws of mathematics.
The sessions were a lot of fun, and the challenge was to channel his boundless enthusiasm and energy into an appetite to learn about the ‘golden rules’ and discover new techniques that would equip him to tackle a great range of problems. Many of the harder questions in an 11+ exam are worded questions which must be dissected into a mathematical structure before you can work through to find the answer. I worked with the student to get him considering every angle of these problems. Without stifling his confidence I put forward the notion that the first idea of solving a problem may not be the most efficient, or even a correct way, but that there are often many routes worth considering before you dive in with your first thought. He was accepted into King’s Wimbledon, and I feel he has been set up with the firm mathematical grounding to flourish there.