Revision tips for 11+
Revising for the 11 Plus requires a strategy. It isn’t something you can do and just hope for the best. However, remember, one size doesn’t fit all. What works for one person might not work for another. In this article, we look at some of the revision techniques your child can use to help you achieve success.
1. Don’t start too early
While every child is different, there is absolutely no point starting revision in Year 4 for an exam that usually takes place at the beginning of Year 6. Typically, most children start revising between Christmas and Easter in Year 5 – in other words between 6 and 9 months before the 11 Plus. Any longer and it could be counter-productive, causing the child too much stress.
2. Decide how long to revise for
The average 10 or 11 year old can only fully concentrate for around 30 minutes at a time. So it’s best to make revision sessions no longer than this. Assuming they are now revising for entrance exams in September 2020 at the earliest, it is probably enough to revise for 30 minutes every other day. However, as exams get closer this should increase to every day. It should also include practising exam papers regularly. See point 9.
3. Work out how your child learns most effectively
Not everyone learns in the same way. We are all different. Put simply, there are several different types of intelligence. These include linguistic intelligence (words), logical-mathematical intelligence (numbers), spatial intelligence (pictures) and kinesthetic (sensory – ie. touch). Knowing what kind of learner you are is key to deciding which revision techniques work best for you. For example, a visual learner will learn more from mind maps while a linguistic learner will learn more from reading textbooks. For more information on different types of effective learning why not take our quiz here.
Also check out our infographic below:
4. Put together a revision timetable
Part of getting organised is to put together a revision timetable. You need to ensure that revision becomes a normal part of your child’s week. Aim to start with building the core skills, especially around English and Maths. This includes practising mental maths and improving literacy skills. In addition to the revision, it is best if your child is reading regularly as this helps to improve vocabulary. Obviously, the closer you get to the actual 11 Plus exam, the more important it is to practise papers and do mock exams under test conditions.
5. Tailor learning for the actual exam
It’s important to bear in mind that not all 11 Plus exams are the same. They vary depending on where you live. Therefore, you need to do your homework early on to find out exactly what subjects are tested. Most include Maths, English and verbal reasoning. Many also include non-verbal reasoning too. Also the format and types of questions may vary depending on which board has set them. There are two main exam boards: CEM (Durham University) and GL Assessment. How you best prepare your child will depend on which exam board the school they want to go to uses.
6. Plug any knowledge gaps
Inevitably your child will have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to knowledge. These should be identified early on and built into the revision timetable. Often these learning gaps are in subjects that your child may be unfamiliar with, such as verbal and non verbal reasoning. However, many children also struggle with Maths or English, especially if English is a second language in the home. Make sure you address these weaknesses early on and employ a subject-specific tutor if necessary (see below).
7. Hire a tutor if necessary
Getting a tutor for an 11 Plus exam is very common. However, they don’t come cheap. Typically you will pay around £25 to £35 an hour for a one-to-one tutor. However, it could be considerably more for the top London private schools. The advantage of a tutor is that they will be familiar with the school tests in your area. In particular, they will know what is required in terms of subject knowledge to pass the 11 Plus.
8. Create a calm environment
We can’t stress how important this is. As a parent you need to stay calm and patient during revision sessions. Otherwise the child could associate revision with stress, or even fear. If they get something wrong simply go over it again, don’t shout at them or put them down. Also if possible make sure revision takes place in a quiet room. It should also be free of potential distractions such as TVs and mobile phones!
9. Practise exam papers
Obviously as it gets closer to the actual 11 Plus Exams your child will need to practise exam papers regularly as part of their revision timetable. These are widely available on our website. It’s important that your child gets used to the format and answering questions under pressure.
10. Sit a mock exam
One of the most important revision techniques is to simulate the actual 11 Plus exam as best as possible. Ideally this should take place no more than a couple of weeks before the exam. Although it’s not completely possible to replicate exam conditions, it’s vital your child gets used to managing their time. Even little things such as handling their materials (pens, pencils, maths equipment) and turning the page carefully so they don’t miss questions are important.
11. Make sure they get enough sleep and eat well!
There is a proven link between lack of sleep and both mental and physical illness. Devices such as mobile phones are also thought to contribute to sleep problems, especially if used late at night. Make sure your child switches their mobile phone off every evening and gets enough sleep in the run-up to the exams. They should also eat properly, avoiding junk food and fizzy drinks before the exams.
Listed above are just some of the revision techniques you should consider ensuring 11 Plus success. However, every child is different. So remember to create a strategy that works for them. Good luck