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13+ Common Entrance and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – DON’T PANIC!
By Natalie Bailey
06 Jun

Jackie Barns-Graham, author of 11+ Science Practice Papers  shares experiences and coping strategies for children taking 13+ Common Entrance exams this week...

Hopefully your revision is complete and you are now ready and able to show off your knowledge and understanding during the week ahead. This will probably be the most intense examination week in your life - it is unlikely  you will ever have to complete as many exams in such a short time again.  The plus is that, by the end of the week, it will all be over and you will be able to relax and enjoy yourselves.


How will you cope? The most important thing is to be fresh and alert and this needs good sleep every night. I remember lying awake the night before my first exam and starting to panic that I had forgotten everything! My first exam was physics. I thought to myself, what is the most difficult topic they can ask me about? I then went through the topic in my head, realised that I knew it and knowing the most difficult topic I could be confident about the rest, and I then slept easily. If you are prepared, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. The examiners are really careful to make sure that there is a good balance of questions that will allow you to demonstrate your thinking skills and knowledge. Also, if there is a difficult question, it will not only be difficult for you but for everybody else too. No need to worry.

It is not a good idea to revise intensely during the evening before an exam. Your mind will be buzzing and you will find it difficult to sleep. Also avoid playing computer games in the hour or so before bed. Again, your mind will be buzzing and there is evidence that the light emitted from the screen stimulates the part of your brain that keeps you awake.  

My subject is science and there is a lot to remember but if you understand a topic it is much easier to remember the details and there are easy marks to be earned where questions are testing your knowledge. The science exams can contain questions about any part of the syllabus starting with the topics you studied in year 3.

It is, however, quite right that your revision will have been focussed on the work you have done in years 7 and 8 as many of the questions will be based on this content but do not forget the science you learnt in years 3 to 6. The chances are that this content is now firmly embedded in your long term memory but, if you are not confident that this is the case, it may be worth looking at the Galore Park Science 11+ revision guide. Just looking at the chapter headings will probably be enough to reassure that there is nothing to worry about. If there is something you have completely forgotten, it will not take more than a few minutes to remind yourself of the essentials using the concise summaries you will find in the book.

There are two quotes worth remembering this week. The first is from the rather ubiquitous war time poster – ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’. The second is my favourite and to be found on the front of Douglas Adams’ book, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – DON’T PANIC! If you have not read the books this will be something to look forward to after the exams. Good luck to you all and do your best.

Tags: 11+, 13+, Common Entrance, Exam Preparation, ISEB, Jackie Barns-Graham, Revision, Science

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