When to start?
This depends on the academic level of your child. It may be that they only require a few hours preparation or that they have larger gaps in their knowledge and require weekly tuition for several months. Tuition has been proven to help with success in the 11+, and therefore it’s a very popular option for parents. Get in touch with our Tutoring Service to find out more!
Any focused 11+ preparation will also help in other aspects of the child’s work. There’s no need to start preparing more than a year ahead.
Work on verbal skills
This part of the test can be particularly challenging, especially for boys (many boys schools operate on a 13+ entrance system for this reason).
This is something that can quite easily be worked on with your child: get them to tell you a story, and encourage them to practice describing what happened and how it made them feel.
If your child is sitting the CEM test, it’s particularly important to work on vocabulary with them. Use big words in conversation with your child and explain their meaning as you go. Work on synonyms and antonyms, and encourage them to put these into practice as they describe something to you. Work with a vocabulary book to make sure they really understand the meaning of words.
Ensure your child has core maths skills
They need to be able to understand the core concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. These can be easily practiced regularly, by going over times tables using games, cards, posters etc.
However, every applicant needs to apply these skills confidently under pressure, particularly in problem-solving questions. This is where the next tip comes in.
Lots of practice papers
The idea behind the 11+ exam is that it tests innate ability; however it has been rather conclusively demonstrated that practice does improve
There are several books on sale containing endless practice questions (for both verbal and non-verbal reasoning). Exposure to these questions prior to the 11+ is invaluable, as it allows kids to develop strategies for combating them, rather than panicking during the exam.
Questions tend to be more predictable for the GL, but practice is important for both exam boards.
After a bit of practice, it is helpful to try a timed mock exam. This is something that our Tutors can help organize. Alternatively, you can organize this yourself, ideally in an unfamiliar location and with other children taking the exam around.
This is likely to be the first formal exam your children will be undertaking, so it’s important for them to practice exam skills beforehand. Timing is a particular struggle for the 11+, so its really important they get used to the speed of the questions and learn to stick to it (particularly with CEM, there are usually more questions than can be answered in the time limit).
Learning to prioritize is another essential exam skill. Your child should practice reading ahead, highlighting difficult questions and leaving them till last. Finally, they should get into the habit of leaving 5 minutes at the end to check answers.
It is also important that your child does not get used to only doing practice papers under particular conditions. The actual exam room will be different, and while it will be generally quiet, it may come with noises such as coughing or shuffling, which could be distracting if they are accustomed to total silence. Therefore, having them sit practice papers in various locations with small distractions (such as you walking past occasionally) will be helpful.
This can be quite an anxious time for both you and your child. But if the child feels this, that will only hinder performance. Praise your child for their hard work and preparation, and do not allow them to believe that exams are the be all and end all.