You may be under the impression that children work well under pressure. However, research tells us that these sorts of strategies rarely have the desired effect. In fact, children often experience a reduction in their ability for their key skills – spelling, vocabulary, and mental maths – when they are under too much pressure or stress. As a result, resist the urge to push your child to revise at every spare moment.
Instead, develop a plan that suits them and a space to fulfil it in. Make sure that you have everything you need to make their revision experience interesting, enjoyable and effective overall.
Use our revision plan to make 11+ preparation simple and stress-free!
Overview of 11 Plus Exam Revision
The revision process has three general areas: practising core skills, completing papers on each topic and becoming familiar with the exam process through mock papers. Incorporate each of these elements every week so your child feels comfortable with the layout and the exam experience. This routine will alleviate some of the stress of the exam day itself.
The key thing is to keep your child’s studies regular and realistic. Don’t push them to do more than they can manage, but simply ensure that they are chipping away at the revision one step at a time.
Weeks 1 – 6: 1 Plus Revision
Use these first weeks to solidify your child’s understanding of their core skills. Practising papers is important, but they will struggle more overall if their core skills are still unsteady.
11+ Maths Revision
- Practice a page of mental maths three days a week. Correct all mistakes as you go along so your child can see where they are going wrong and work to fix it. You can increase the difficulty if you find that your child is getting 100% each time.
- Practice a page of word problems three days a week. These problems are an excellent way to understand how to transfer the key components of the question into an understandable maths formula or operation. Discuss the answers together. They should be treated like puzzles or challenges, which automatically makes them more fun.
- For both mental maths and word problems, work on practising self-correction. Get your child into the habit of checking their answers and knowing what to do when they make a mistake.
11 Plus Literacy Revision
- Encourage your child to spend half an hour in independent reading.
- Read together from a classic book several times a week. Discuss the text together – favourite or least favourite characters, aspects of the plot, unusual or interesting words. Find recommendations online.
- Write new words in a vocabulary notebook. Practice spelling these words several times a week.
Weeks 1 – 4: Practice Papers
- Complete one paper per discipline every week. This is more than enough, and make sure that all mistakes are corrected and understood before moving on to the next one. It has been suggested that you should talk about the questions and answers for the same amount of time it took your child to complete it.
- Use time limits and a quiet space. You can also tell them when they are halfway through their time and remind them when they have ten and five minutes remaining. This will mirror the actual setting of the exam room and will help familiarise your child with the concept of taking an exam.
Weeks 5 – 6: Practice Papers
- Continue your revision plan from the previous weeks, but include an extra mock paper per week.
- Make sure they are writing by hand – and building up the stamina to write for a long time by hand – rather than on a computer, as this will be a necessary requirement of the exam itself.
- Continue to use exam-like conditions. They should use the appropriate time limits, as well as working in silence and adhere to breaks as allowed in exam conditions. You should not give them help during the practice papers.
- Get them used to taking a bathroom break before the exam begins. They should not eat during the exam and should have only a bottle of water to hand if they want it.
Common 11+ Revision Issues
- Running out of time: Parents can combat this issue by encouraging children to only use allocated minutes for each question, often depending on the marks available. Tell them to leave difficult questions for the end of the paper to avoid them getting worked up about one question and not having enough time for the rest. Remember that time constraints are part of the challenge; it will be tricky for them to complete all the questions in time, so these strategies will give them the best chance.
- Making small errors: The pressure of an exam can cause children to make silly mistakes and forget simple details of a concept. Help avoid this by practising recalling important and simple information. Go over specific terms that they will need to know. You will be able to identify any areas of uncertainty by going over their mock papers.
Last-Minute 11 Plus Exam Revision
- Core Skills: Practicing papers alone will be useless without a concrete
understanding of the core skills. Dedicate time to sharpen these daily, and use the practice papers as a secondary revision tool.
- Find Knowledge Gaps: Ensure that your child is comfortable with the 11 Plus exam technique as well as the actual content of the paper. Do this by adhering to and practising strict time management – including developing effective time management for each answer and understanding how to prioritise overall completion over tricky questions.
- Effective Exam Performance: Find ways your child can manage their stress under pressure. They should also know how to plan and organise their exam answers appropriately.
- Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning: You can use plenty of resources to practice these topics. Invest in practice books, which will also provide tips and tricks for approaching the answers.
- Work Smart: Avoid the ‘hard work’ approach if you can. Instead, implement strategic methods of revision.
What else can I do?
- Keep work consistent rather than stressful.
- Try and keep things as relaxed as possible.
- Correct mistakes with kindness; be sure that your child sees them not so much as errors but as chances to improve.
- Allow extra time at the beginning of the revision period. Reduce this amount gradually.
- Prioritise familiarising your child with the exam environment.
- Keep a gentle and light-hearted approach. This process can be incredibly stressful when handled badly, so try to make the whole process fun and enjoyable. Show your child constant support throughout the process, and be there to motivate them at every moment.