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How to prepare your child to sit the 11 Plus (11+)

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

12 Tips for preparing your child to sit the 11 Plus (11+)

Below we have compiled our key tips and tricks for preparing your child to sit the 11+:

1. Start studying early

It is essential to start preparing your child from the beginning of Year 5 for their entrance exams which they will take in Year 6. If you really want to be ahead of the game, start preparing your child from Year 3. The more time that your child has to learn the exam content and format, the better their confidence and general exam-taking abilities will be when they have to sit their actual exam.

2. Motivate through experience

Take your child to open events at their prospective schools so they are motivated to work towards their goal of getting into one of those schools. If you can give your child a reason for why they must sit these entrance exams, as opposed to telling them to “just do it”, they are more likely to want to revise which will make the preparation process flow much more easily.

3. Research exam formats & types

It is very important that you find out what your child’s entrance exams will be like as not all 11+ entrance exams are the same; they may be written by GL Assessment, CEM, ISEB, or the school board, may test English, maths, verbal, and/or non-verbal reasoning, and may be in a multiple-choice, standard written, online or paper-based format. Generally, 11+ exams formats and types are different depending on which school/in which areas you are applying which is why you should make sure before you start revision that your child is studying the right content in the correct format. Notably, some exams will even cover material that your child may not have studied yet (content from later in Year 6 & even KS3) and some schools may change their formats so incorporate a range of questions into their study sessions.

4. Learn question styles

Once you know the exam formats and types your child may face, you can familiarise yourself with the exam content and question style. On our sister site, Examberry Mocks you can watch video tutorials which break down English and maths questions. In addition, on our other sister site Examberry Tuition you can sign up for tuition where we offer group 11+ study sessions with experienced tutors who will guide your child through the entire exam process.

5. Practice papers

The best way to help get your child familiar with the style of questions is to encourage them to sit practice papers again, and again, and again. Our site offers physical and downloadable practice papers for English, maths, verbal, and non-verbal reasoning with a range of questions; we even have papers which are designed to replicate specific schools’ 11+ papers such as schools in the City of London, Kent, Sutton, Essex (CSSE), and Birmingham.

6. Use exam conditions

As their actual entrance exams will be to time, have your child work through their practice papers using these exam timings. They may understand the exam content but if they cannot provide their answers in time, their efforts will be wasted. Our mock exams, available through the Examberry Mocks site, are a great opportunity to have your child sit the entrance exam under exam conditions, especially if they have never had the chance to take a public exam before and if it’s their first actual 11+ exam they will have ever taken.

7. Increase difficulty gradually

Gradually increase the difficulty of their revision, you don’t want to overwhelm your child with the most challenging content right at the beginning of their 11+ studying journey. For example, for maths, start with times tables, and for English, start with spelling tests. This can help you to figure out how to build their strengths and address their weaknesses.

8. Encourage regular reading

By encouraging your child to make reading books a consistent habit, you can help them to prepare for English and verbal-reasoning papers as this reading skill translates to improving their comprehension, writing, SPAG (spelling, punctuation, and grammar), vocabulary, and word-based problem solving skills. Some schools will require your child to create a piece of creative writing based on a written prompt; the more books your child reads, the more they will be able to understand what makes a good story and how to create one of their own. We offer a range of reading workbooks to help in this process of combining reading and comprehension skills which you can find linked below.

9. Make it fun

Consider breaking up more intense studying with games which practice skills they will need for their entrance exams. For example, puzzle games, construction toys, eye-spy, sudoku, cross-words, and word-searches.

10. Reward

Another great way to motivate your child through their 11+ studying journey is to reward them for their hard work. Think about implementing a system where they can earn extra TV or gaming time through checking off certain studying goals.

11. De-stress

Make sure your child has time to take a break, to relax and unwind but also, to have (non-11+ based) fun. They need to have balance between work and play so they don’t feel burned out by the time the exam comes around or wound up to the point where they panic during the exam.

12. Talk with them

It may sound simple, but open up discussion about the 11+ with your child. Ask your child how they’re feeling, is there anything they’re worried about? Support them through this process which can sometimes be daunting with words of encouragement and it will go a long way.

How to prepare your child for the 11 Plus (11+) exam

The most useful way to prepare for the 11+ entrance exams is to use practice papers to familiarise your child with the exam content and format.

Our website offers a range of practice papers that focus on the essential skills your child needs to prepare for the 11+ entrance exam including English, maths, verbal reasoning, and non-verbal reasoning. Among our practice tests, which can help your child to build their confidence and improve their performance on the exam, are papers specifically designed to adhere to various exam types and formats including GL Assessment and CEM which are the most common paper types.

On our sister site, Examberry Tuition, you can also sign up for in-person and online 11+ tuition courses and 11+ mock exams to give your child the best chance of getting into the top school of their choice, no matter which examination format they use.

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