How To Prepare For The 11 Plus Exams

At Secondary Entrance, we have all done 11 plus exams. A lot of them. The majority of our staff are continually being assessed even now, therefore our understanding of exams goes far beyond being academically prepared for an exam.

Where to start...

11 Plus Independent School exams are stressful. And even the most capable of children can be tripped up by last minute nerves. Stress can originate from pressure placed on by parents, and this can be indirect and not initially noticeable. Success in the 11 Plus comes down to appropriate preparation, over a long period of time, gradually culminating in a rounding up of knowledge days before the exam.

Prepare For The 11+ Exams

12 months before the exam

Familiarisation of the exam and content for whichever 11 plus exam your child will be sitting. This could be for grammar schools or independent 11 plus schools. Extensive research through the school’s own website provides ample information.

A parent should also begin to develop a good idea about the strengths and weaknesses of a child 11 plus exam technique at this point, and aim to fill out any gaps in their knowledge.

How Secondary Entrance can help? Within each of our 11 plus practice papers, all academic points of the relevant subject’s syllabus is accounted for. Therefore by simply doing 2-3 of our 11+ practice papers, and gaps in a child’s knowledge becomes clear from the start, and therefore a focus on what aspects your child needs help with can be established immediately

Your child should be able to now be in a position to begin 11 plus practice papers and experience the style of an actual 11 plus exam. This should be in a non-pressured environment and the child should be given time to think about each question, and to read it, internalise it, and ponder the answer. This should be no more than one paper a day, and you should rotate subjects, to ensure your child does not suffer from fatigue or boredom due to repetition. It is also important to understand the location of the school you wish to apply for as London Independent 11 Plus schools such as Haberdashers, Merchant Taylors or St Paul's can be especially competitive.

Secondary Entrance sells 11 plus test papers in packages, made up of packs of 15, each one designed to last for 3 months. Therefore, a silver 11 plus package contains 2 packs of 15 11 plus practice papers, and lasts for 6 months. Your child may move through the 11 plus practice papers quicker or slower depending on their experience and ability and it is very important to understand that our papers assess all difficulty levels, therefore a child may not be improving as well as you expect, but this may be due to the gradual increase in difficulty all our papers offer. Remember that if you are planning on applying for CEM or GL style 11 plus papers to gain adequate information about the format and specific requirements of the paper itself.


Prepare For The 11+ Exams

6 months before the exam

Your child should now be well rehearsed in the idea of taking practice papers in a relaxed environment. You may now attempt to provide timing to your papers, as recommended at the front of the practice packs.

It may be such that your child does not finish our challenging 11 plus paper, or that they rush near the end, and miss some easy marks. It is at this stage when you develop a triage system if necessary, that your child misses out questions that are taking them too long, as each question is still only worth one mark, regardless of difficulty.

By getting your child into a habit of doing questions under timed conditions, the stress nearer the 11 Plus exam is ablated, as they have been very well rehearsed in this.

Secondary Entrance offers a vast number of papers, to ensure your child has enough 11 plus training material to never run out of experience, or to have to trawl the internet looking for further material. At this point you may also consider a Secondary Entrance 11 Plus tutor within London who has experience in the papers and in sitting the 11 plus, to give your child further motivation from someone who has sat the paper themselves.

Prepare For The 11+ Exams

3 months before the exam

The number of papers your child is now doing should increase to 2-3 papers a day. Their timing should now be up to speed, and you can begin to experiment with questions if your child starts to tire or begins to adopt rout learning routines.

At this stage parents should still be supported with ample 11+ practice papers offered by Secondary Entrance, and if there is any need for any more, the opportunity to order more online is always available, to upgrade to a higher package.


Prepare For The 11+ Exams

1 month before the exam

11+ exam technique can now be honed down, through advice from a Secondary Entrance tutor who can run mocks within an exam environment, to give your child the true experience of working in exam conditions. Here any potential slip up with exam stress or panic at the end of the paper can be ironed out and give your child adequate confidence of what a mock exam is like, and how to deal with last minute nerves and panic, 1 month before their actual exam.

Prepare For The 11+ Exams

1 week before

At this point, the vast majority of preparation for the 11+ should be complete, and most your Secondary Entrance papers should be completed. Some final practice using past papers at a relaxed pace will help keep your child’s mind prepared but also fresh, therefore rest and leisure is also important.

The majority of the work for the 11+ happens weeks before the exam itself, and to cram hundreds of papers into a week is not an effective means of preparation, and leads to test anxiety and fatigue.

Please remember to keep your child well rested and with lots of breaks and leisure activities. At such a vital part of their development it is important to ensure their childhood and mental health is catered to.


Prepare For The 11+ Exams

The day of the exam

All the preparation is now complete. You and your child are as prepared as they ever could be for the 11+ exam papers, and your child should have nothing to worry about. They should know what to expect for the exam, and if there is a question they cannot do, they have adequate preparation to keep them calm and to either think through the problem effectively, or to smartly triage the question, understanding their exam technique.

With the help of adequate advice, tutoring and high-quality 11+ practice papers Secondary Entrance can make the 11+ far less stressful for both yourself and your child, at a cost which is affordable.

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