The most important 11 plus maths tip ever? It could be T.T.E.Z.

It’s debatable, but it’s definitely unavoidable: your child needs to know their times tables – now! Don’t despair, turn the tables on those tables and have some fun.  One way to do this is to declare your house a T.T.E.Z.


For 30 days, do no other learning at home apart from learning the tables. Print and cut out the above image or, even better, have your child design their own T.T.E.Z posters to put up all over the house, along with one, or more,  times tables.

Why a T.T.E.Z for grammar school entrance?

As with SATS and all other maths learning, times tables are the gateway to many more maths topics. With tables, your child will definitely be able to handle

  • fractions
  • decimals
  • percentages and pie charts
  • mass and volume measurements
  • distance
  • word problems
  • long multiplication with 3, 4, 5, even 6 digits
  • long division
  • short division

with greater speed and accuracy. Time, remember, is crucial in 11 plus tests. If your child has to spend a minute working out a times tables fact before using it to solve a fraction problem, they’ve lost a minute which they could have used to answer another question.

Warning: Do this in a fun, imaginative way – you’re not creating a panic zone. You’re playing with imagination, turning the house into a sort of mini film set.

Remember the power of 3 when learning any times table fact:

11 plus grammar school number facts


You can rightly praise your child for realising that every time they learn one fact, they automatically ‘know’ two other division facts. Of course, you’ll have to revise these facts as you go, but with practice, they will come. What’s great is that you can point out how the 3 numbers in any multiplication fact stick together like a family. As long as the big number – the answer – goes at the front of the division facts, you can predict which other numbers you will need.

Above, we see that 4, 6 and 24 are a lovely little family. Thus, as soon as you put 24 at the front of a division, you can divide by 4 and know you’re looking for 6, and that if you divide by 6, you’ll be looking for 4.

Use a mix of routes to learning the tables:

  1. Write them by rote. Really.
  2. Mix up the order. Instead of 1 x 4, 2 x 4, 3 x 4, etc., mix it up – 7 x 4, 12 x 4, 2 x 4, and so on.
  3. Write or speak the answer, then ask which table gives this. E.g. when working on the 6s, give 42, then ask which one of the 6s gives the answer.
  4. Write and rap out raps with rhymes as the answer. E.g. 6 x 7, naughty blue, 6 x 7 is …42. After a while, they’ll predict the rhyme.
  5. Classroom games like Bang Sheriff, where you pretend to draw cowboy guns and fire only when you have the answer. If you say, “Bang Bang Sheriff!”, but then pause while you work it out…you lose.” Great for the dinner table.

You could extend the T.T.E.Z. into your car, a childminder’s, anywhere your child spends time. My daughter found the 7s tricky, so that was the one we had stuck to the dashboard on the school run for 30 days. Actually, we left it on for another 30 days following that, as she still found it tricky. This wasn’t a problem – remember, no panic – we just extended the T.T.E.Z by another 30 days. For the 7s, it did the trick.

So, 30 days in a T.T.E.Z. Have fun and stay 11plushappy!

My best, Lee

Know any more ways to learn the tables? Please share in the comments, it might help another reader.