Is your child sitting the 11 plus this year? Are you feeling overwhelmed by your child’s forthcoming 11 plus exams? Here are key tips to help your child prepare.
There is a growing trend in my town. Since starting my education centre 12 years ago, I have seen an exponential increase in children applying to get a place in grammar school. Grammar schools have grown in popularity since the last recession and parents are now more aware of school standards.
The thought is “if I can’t afford to send my child to a private school, I’ll send him to a grammar school even if it is 30 miles away”.
1. Don’t Start Too Late
Cramming for exams doesn’t work and it’s a short-term solution. You should start preparation at least one year before the exam so ideally at the start of year 5. If you leave it too late it will build unnecessary pressure on you and your child. I find that children who start early also adopt a good work ethic. They get into the habit of regular daily study on top of their school work and these skills will be invaluable at grammar school.
2. Build a Good Foundation
Grammar schools take the top 5% of students. For a child to have a good chance of passing the 11 plus exam, I recommend that the child should be in the top set and the top table in both English and Maths. This alone is not enough, children must be keen readers. Reading improves vocabulary and general knowledge. General knowledge cannot be learnt by reading an encyclopaedia, rather it is learnt through experience or through reading around the subject.
3. Involve Your Child In Every Step
A child who is included in decision-making will be more willing to put the work in. It reduces the burden for you too.
looking at the websites of all the grammar schools you want to see
going to school open days
choosing the grammar school
knowing what is going to come up the exams – is it just verbal reasoning or is it more?
taking charge of preparation; your child should be organised and know what to revise
teach your child to mark the practice questions and tests
teach your child to monitor and record scores
4. Use a Variety of Resources
Use worksheets. You can download practice questions by searching “practice 11 plus worksheets”. Worksheets are better in some ways because once you have downloaded them, you can print them as many times as you need.
Use online sites. Online sites like 11plus.co.uk provide online practice tests and exercises and also do mock tests. Wordbuilder is an excellent site for vocabulary practice.
Use practice papers. When doing practice tests, first focus on ensuring that your child answers every question without a time limit. Work on accuracy and technique and let your child familiarise themselves with the different question types. You don’t want your child reading the instructions on how to answer each question in an exam situation, they should just start working it out. After that you can start doing practice tests under timed conditions.
Play games and puzzles. This blog article talks about how you can still practice verbal reasoning skills to keep your child interested.
Experts say that you cannot prepare a child for grammar school because they either have it or they don’t. I’m not here to argue that point, I’m just here to help you help your child. Whether they get into grammar school or not, it’s the journey that matters more than the outcome.