Close nav

When to start preparation for the 11 Plus exam


by Mithu

The 11 plus exam period is a stressful period for both children and parents alike. Parents can often find themselves worrying about the perfect revision plan and timetable for their child. In this blog, I’ll be sharing a few tips you and your child can use when starting eleven plus preparation so that you can help your child work to their best potential!

The question of when the best time to start preparing for exams is a tricky one as there is no ’correct’ answer which suits every child. I often encourage parents to start preparing their child for the exams based on their child’s ability. You can determine your child’s ability by evaluating their school progress reports and asking their teachers for verbal feedback regarding class and homework. Realistically, the lower your child’s ability, the earlier you should want to start preparation. As a rough guide, if your child is excelling the expected level in the classroom, preparation can start as late as the start of year 5; if they are working at the expected level, preparation can start from early to mid-year 4. If your child is working below the expected level at school, it should be your priority to make sure they are up to par with the work set at school before they begin to focus on exam prep.

As mentioned before, one of the most important tasks as a parent is making sure your child is fine with the concepts that are being taught in school as most eleven plus exams are based on the KS2 curriculum. Harder eleven plus questions are usually just an extension of key KS2 concepts. The national curriculum for all years can be accessed online via the website. Accessing the national curriculum will help you to identify any topics your son or daughter may be struggling with and thus help close subsequent gaps in their knowledge. Treating the national curriculum as a checklist can be a very useful tool in the planning of your child’s revision.

When starting eleven plus preparation, it is important to work in a methodical manner in order to alleviate stress from both the parent and the child. A good way of doing this is to gather all resources which can range from past or sample papers found on the internet to traditional textbook questions and creating a chart to record the scores obtained. For subjects like maths and non-verbal reasoning, the questions can be attempted more than once as the answers are usually not memorable. In a column next to the resources, start dating when you plan on completing the set task with your child. This is a great method of planning as this ensures all resources are being used and thus a large variety of questions can be attempted. Additionally, you are able to keep track of how much revision your child has completed alongside their progress depending on their achieved scores.

It is also important to set goals for your child as this will allow them to reflect on their own progress and use it as a basis for motivation. When setting goals, make sure they are SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

  • S Specific
    It is important to be specific when setting goals. Your child would benefit from you dictating which tasks should be completed and the methods used.
  • M Measurable
    Quantity of work should be mentioned in the set goals as this will ensure your child stays on track with regards to your outlined plan.
  • A Achievable
    If the goals are not achievable, it can have devastating effects on your child’s confidence. Preparing for their 11 plus exams is one of the first times most children are learning to balance school work and extra-curricular activities alongside extra work at home, therefore, it is important to take that into account when setting goals.
  • R Relevant
    The task/ goal set should always help enhance your child’s performance. If the work is not in the syllabus nor something they find challenging, then it is not worthwhile for them to complete.
  • T Time-bound
    This is very important as most children when setting goals, do not assign themselves a time frame to achieve the set goal. This can lead to procrastination which can affect work ethic and productivity. By setting a deadline, it will allow your child to feel a sense of urgency and thus encourage them to complete the work set according to the plan you have outlined. However, as mentioned before, the deadline should be realistic and achievable so your child will not feel discouraged if they fail to meet it.

Alongside a revision plan, it can also be very helpful to determine a routine that your child can familiarise themselves to when preparing for their 11 plus. When I was revising for my 11 plus exams, my revision would be split between sometime in the morning before school and in the evening after dinner. Establishing a routine really helped me to stay focused and find a balance between schoolwork, revision and leisure. It also allowed me to become independent as I was used to working at the same time every day therefore I did not require my parents to pester me. Your child may also benefit from this set routine like I once did.

Preparing for the 11 plus exams is not a straightforward job; there will be frustration, upset and stress. However, you will be able to cherish the opportunity to strengthen your bond with your child whilst helping them build confidence and develop their cognitive skills. This is an exciting time for both you and your child and once you determine a plan, the process can be less stressful than what you expect. Just remember to stay on top of school work, use any beneficial resources, set SMART goals and establish a routine… Hope you have found these tips useful!