Blog



How to introduce time management into 11+ and pre-test preparation
By Chris Pearse, Teachitright
24 Apr

Chris Pearse is an experienced primary school teacher, founder of the successful 11+ tuition company Teachitright, and author of Galore Park’s Verbal Reasoning Practice Papers. Today he shares his thoughts on the importance of good time management when preparing for entrance exams.

A key element to 11+ and pre-test success is being able to use good time management. Knowing when to introduce more timed tests and bring out the stopwatches and egg timers is often debated in households.

When commencing 11+ and pre-test preparation – and soon realising the importance of timing – the tendency is to immediately start timing your child at home and expecting your child to work more quickly.

It is important children first feel confident in their subject knowledge before becoming concerned about how long they are taking. The topics are very broad, and having experience of practising questions without timing is definitely recommended before letting the clock tick.

A unique approach to testing children in the CEM tests is having both 45-minute papers sub-divided into sections. Children need to work quickly within each section as they are unable to return to the questions once the time has elapsed for that question type/topic. This prevents returning to the more challenging questions at the end of the test. Therefore, attempting all the questions – and not taking too long on one question – is central.


When children feel confident about the exam format, the timing can be introduced. To ensure children are not set unrealistic targets, having a staggered approach is suggested. An example might be to initially give your child 14 minutes to complete 14 reshuffled sentences questions in verbal reasoning. This can be reduced until it fits a more realistic time expectation in the exam, as in the example below.

  • Attempt 1: 14 questions – 14 minutes (one minute per question)
  • Attempt 2: 14 questions – 12 minutes
  • Attempt 3: 14 questions – 10 minutes
  • Attempt 4: 14 questions – 7 minutes (30 seconds per question)
Setting new goals gradually will ensure children do not become immediately deflated if they don’t complete all the questions. This would be the same method as for improving timings in athletics. It is better to opt for the gradual approach.

Another area of the 11+ that relies on good speed is reading the passage in the comprehension sections. Children must read quickly but must also comprehend the extract. Therefore, a balance needs to be struck between speed and understanding. This can be enhanced by increasing the amount of words read per minute, and is developed quite simply through more reading. Using efficient methods, rather than longer methods, in mathematics is also really important to ensure time is not wasted.

In summary, always introduce timings when the child is confident about the topic areas. Set realistic targets and don’t expect immediate results. Develop reading speed through regular and appropriate reading materials. Emphasise, when practising, not to spend too long on one question type as it is best to move on and gain marks elsewhere.

Galore Park's 11+ and Pre-test revision series across English, mathematics, science, non-verbal reasoning and verbal reasoning, has been specifically designed for 11+, pre-tests and independent school exams, including CEM, GL and ISEB.

The step-by-step series provides you with the content and the tools to help your child revise. Once children have built knowledge of how to break down and tackle different question types in the revision guides, exam-style questions are introduced in write-in workbooks to increase exam room confidence, and finally timed papers are presented in the practice papers to perfect exam technique. 

Find out more.


Share this post: