How to help your child prepare for the Common Entrance exam
By Louise Martine
02 Sep

Louise Martine, mother of four and author of Galore Park’s Study Skills 11+, explains how parents can support their children who are taking school entrance exams.

This year Coronavirus has had a huge impact on all our lives, including our children’s education. As we begin the new school year, where schools will be re-opening to all pupils, you may be breathing a sigh of relief as your responsibilities for home schooling are ending. However, if like me, you have a child starting Year 6 this September and sitting entrance exams to senior schools, you may be concerned that a term out of school has left them underprepared.

Here are some ideas which may help you prepare your child for their entrance exams and beyond.

1. Use the right motivational language
Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, is a leader in the field of student motivation. She conducted research to show the way in which you praise a child's achievement is crucial. If you praise your child's achievement by saying how clever they are, it will make them feel their intelligence is being judged. It may cause them to avoid future challenges because they don't want to be seen as a failure. Instead, praise your child for their effort, the strategies they use and their focus. Encourage them to believe they can do it. This will give them greater persistence in approaching their entrance exams and the ups and downs of life.

2. Be a good role model
Make sure you are approachable. Show your child you care and love them, not by constantly saying 'I love you' but by taking time to talk to them. Find an effective way to communicate with them by praising them and encouraging them to try new things.

3. Encourage a good frame of mind
If you spend lots of time revising a piece of information, your neural pathways get stronger and information goes more easily into your long-term memory. However, if your child is stressed and worried, hormones are released making it difficult to learn. You can help by:

  • Encouraging exercise, relaxation and having a positive mental attitude. Body language can even affect how we feel about ourselves. Adopting a 'high power pose' for two minutes can make you feel more confident - a great strategy to beat the exam nerves!
  • Staying hydrated, getting a good amount of sleep and a healthy diet are also vital.

4. Organise revision sessions
The greatest key to exam success is preparation. Help by creating a tidy and inviting workspace for your child to do their revision. 

Start early. If your child gets into a routine it won't be such a shock when the pressure is on to revise. You can help your child master certain topics by scheduling in an hour or so once a week. Then, in the run up to exams, set your priorities by choosing key areas which need improving.

Encourage your child to work on their own. Being self-motivated is more valuable than work completed in anger or apathy.

5. What resources are available?
If we can teach children how to learn, we can help them reach their full potential. My book Study Skills 11+ explains how you can help your child to improve the effectiveness of their revision by harnessing how they learn best. The book also covers study skills techniques such as identifying key words, revision cards, flow charts and mind maps.

Revision guides are a good source of information. Although your child probably knows a lot already, they are useful for identifying any knowledge gaps. They could start by reading through the contents pages, highlighting any topics they feel they don't know as well. They can then move onto workbooks and practice papers.

The Galore Park 11+ and pre-test revision series follows this process. The revision guides teach the essential knowledge and skills required to answer exam questions. Then the workbooks, practice papers and ISEB past papers put what has been learned to the test.

Your level of involvement will undoubtedly vary. All children are different; some may be very motivated and others might not. This has been my experience as a parent of four. What has kept me going is the belief that every child has the power to succeed - it is just a case of giving them the right support.

Learn more about our 11+ and pre-test revision resources and order online here.

Tags: 11+, 11+ Revision, 11 plus, back to school, Common Entrance, Entrance exams, Exam Preparation, Exam tips, home schooling, Independent School Examination Board, independent schools, Key Stage 2, learning, Parents, revision, revision prep, Revision Tips, school entrance exams, Study Skills, Studying

Share this post: