How can you prepare your children for their 11 Plus exams in January?
By Louise Martine
14 Dec

As a parent of a child in Year 6 I am breathing a sigh of relief that we have made it through to the end of term. I can’t imagine how relieved teachers must feel as they can step away from the daily routine of temperature testing and worrying about every cough and sniffle they encounter.

As we start the Christmas holidays some of us need to think about the 11+ entry exams taking place in January. Some children in Year 6 will have already taken their ISEB Pre-Tests or 11+ exams but for those who will be sitting them in January here are some ideas to support your child and keep them academically engaged over the holidays.

1. Firstly, make sure you know what the exam will entail

It can vary from school to school. Typically it will include maths, English (the English exam may contain a creative writing section), verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning.

2. Resources to support academic preparation

Galore Park has an extensive range of 11+ revision resources to help your child build the confidence and skills needed for their 11+ exams. From revision guides, write-in workbooks, 11+ practice papers (including for CEM and GL exams) to online adaptive 11+ mock tests from Atom Learning.

3. Where to start – focus on knowledge gaps

You may have a very good idea of your child’s strengths and weaknesses but if you don’t or want to check, a good place to start is with the 11+ practice papers (maths, English, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning). Working through these papers not only provides practice at answering exam style questions (under time pressure) but it can reveal gaps in their knowledge.

If there are gaps the revision guides are an incredibly useful source of information. (I find them very useful in helping me to understand what is required – some things have changed since my school days!) Highlight any topics that need revision and focus on mastering these.

The workbooks can support any gaps by providing practice and answering more question variations.

4. Motivate your child

Galore Park’s Study Skills for 11+ exams and pre-tests explains how you can help your child improve the effectiveness of their revision. It also explains revision skills that can help make revision more manageable, productive and rewarding.

Here are a few highlights:

Use the right motivational language

Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, is a leader in the field of student motivation. She recommends praising your child for:

  • their effort
  • the strategies they use to tackle tasks
  • their perseverance and focus

This will give them greater confidence and persistence in approaching their entrance exams.

Understand the science behind how the brain works

Spending time revising a piece of information again and again strengthens your neural pathways and information goes more easily into your long-term memory. Good revision sessions are vital.

Your brain finds it difficult to learn under certain circumstances

When your child is stressed and worried, hormones are released making it difficult to learn. Help by:

  • Encouraging exercise, relaxation techniques and having a positive mental attitude.
  • Be a good listener. The feeling of failing in their parents’ eyes can often exacerbate a child’s worries over exams. Children who are confident that their parents will love them unconditionally cope best with challenges like exams.
  • Encourage your child to drink water. Dehydration stops your brain working effectively and you lose the ability to concentrate.
  • Don’t eat junk food.

Organise successful revision sessions

Perceived wisdom says that children like structure in their lives.

  • Get organised, create a tidy and inviting workspace
  • Set your subject and topic priorities
  • Most importantly plan a weekly revision timetable, remembering to schedule in fun things too!

Revision techniques

The Study Skills book covers revision techniques that work well for revising English, maths, non-verbal reasoning and verbal reasoning. There is also section on how to prepare for online tests, interviews and the test day itself.

As we settle into our ‘home bubbles’, I hope these ideas for preparing and supporting your child as they prepare for their January exams, go towards making the start of 2021 a positive one! As well as being a time to prepare for 11+ exams taking place in January, it's also very important to remember to encourage your children to take time off over the Christmas break. It's been a very challenging year and we all need to rest and recuperate.

Louise Martine is a Freelance Publisher and Business Consultant, and is also a school governor. She has four children who have all been through the entrance exam journey, which has given her an insight into education and how to guide the various personalities through school, revision and school exams. Louise is also the author of Galore Park's Study Skills 11+: Building the study skills needed for 11+ and pre-tests and the 11+ Maths Revision Guide, as well as Achieve Times Tables for Rising Stars.

Tags: 11+, 11+ English, 11+ Revision, 11 plus, 13+ Common Entrance, Christmas, Common Entrance, English, Entrance exams, Exam Preparation, Exam tips, home schooling, Key Stage 2, Mathematics, Maths at key stage 2, Non-Verbal Reasoning, Parents, Practice Papers, pre-test, pre-tests, revision, Revision Guide, revision prep, Revision Tips, school entrance exams, schools, Study Skills, Studying, Verbal Reasoning, Workbooks

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