Six Week 11 Plus Revision Plan
Using the books and resources we have suggested, below you’ll find what we suggest as an effective revision plan
Possibly the easiest method of revising at home
The process you’ll need to go through to prepare for the 11 plus well is given below. You will see that it involves a mix of keeping core skills like vocabulary and mental maths strong, filling in knowledge gaps and some timed work using papers.
As an alternative you could go for a structured revision course which builds it all into one package which makes things easier. Below are links to two such structured courses you might like to try, beware that when we reviewed them they were very intensive so you may want to allow six week to complete them, rather than the stated four weeks.
11 plus revision plan overview
Each week children will continue to work on core skills
Each week children will do one paper on each of the topics they face
At the end of the process there will be some mock activity
Remember that through the revision process keeping calm, developing confidence and not allowing stress to develop are very important. Do not be tempted to overwork children as it is always counter-productive.
11 Plus revision plan – Week One to Six Inclusive
Core skills are really important, the mistake many families make is just to do papers during the revision process. What most families find is that as a result no progress is made and children just remain at a level. Progress can only be made by doing papers alongside core skills development.
Maths core skills work
One page of mental maths per day (less if done during term time). You should be aiming for 100%. You are using the book we have recommended to exercise core skills and to aid accurate working. Don’t be tempted to up the difficulty level. Always spend time reviewing work to understand where mistakes have been made and why. Don’t be frightened of going back and reviewing some basics (some children will not know 6×7 under pressure as an example), help children to develop self-checking skills (get them to find their own mistakes, offer rewards which decrease with each mistake made etc.). Remember the value comes from the review and feedback of the work.
One page of worded problems. Use the book we have suggested. Remember to focus on feedback as above. With worded problems sometimes it helps to underline key facts.
Literacy Core Skills Work
Reading every day independently for at least half an hour
At least two sessions of paired reading using a classic book
One page of suggested spelling/ vocabulary book
Develop a personal vocabulary list week of ten or twenty new words, look them up, learn how to spell them.
11 Plus Revision Plan Papers- Weeks 1-4
Children should be doing one full paper in each discipline each week. Do not be tempted to do more as it is likely to be counter-productive.
Remember that feedback is essential and you may well need to spend twice as long as the length of the paper marking it and giving the feedback and going over mistakes. The time spent on this will define whether children make progress or not, they will make no progress just by doing paper after paper.
Approach each paper as formally as possible. Set a start time, have a totally quiet room, offer no help, child should manage their own time, announce half way, ten minutes to go, five minutes and stop. Make things as realistic as possible.
Common problems with 11 plus papers and how to solve them
Running out of time.
Cause– Sometimes detailed children spend far too long on the early questions leaving them to rush the end questions. Solution– Try to help them keep to an even pace by dividing up each paper into five or ten minute parts so that they keep moving at the right pace.
Cause– Getting bogged down in a particular question. Solution– Try to identify which questions are causing most problems and work on them outside an exam situation to try to improve technique and speed. Initially encourage children to leave those questions until the end and work through the rest of the paper normally- watch out though as leaving questions until the end can be overdone.
Remember time will always be tight. 11 Plus exams aim to differentiate partially by seeing who can work quickly and accurately through the questions. Don’t expect children not to find the timings tight, as that is unrealistic. Most children will be very tight on time.
Lots of little mistakes
Core skills problems– Often the problem is that some basic knowledge is not strong enough and becomes exposed when placed under time pressure and stress. This could be mistakes with times tables or simple four operations calculations. It could be not being able to recall vocabulary. Solutions- Stress and worry harms children’s ability to do mental maths and recall vocabulary, anything that can be done to calm children, reassure them and give them confidence will help, making them work harder will probably make things worse. Where there are times tables errors don’t be frightened of going back over the problem areas, sometimes it might be just one that causes trouble (e.g. 7×6)- go over it every day. Where children are not working accurately try to switch them onto this with rewards for error free work or getting them to find the mistakes they have made (tell them how many mistakes they have made and get them to find them).
Technique problems- Sometimes knowledge won’t be secure or will crack under pressure. This could be in any discipline from Non-verbal Reasoning to Maths. As an example a child may forget or worry about the technique for adding fractions together. Solution- If you have identified this as a problem, take it outside the revision paper environment, go over the technique and then do ten or so examples to make sure technique improves ( you can make these up).
Obvious knowledge gaps
Children may have obvious knowledge gaps and where they exist they will be most obvious in numeracy and non-verbal reasoning. Where you can identify a knowledge gap make sure that you come out of the test environment and study that particular issue to develop your child’s skill. Be aware that often the problem may only emerge under time pressure, this is quite normal, all that is needed is some further work to ensure the skill is more fully embedded and the child is more confident.
Literacy knowledge gaps or problems. This is a more complicated area which also spans into Verbal Reasoning. Children will sometimes struggle with the texts they are given (because they have not read enough of the more complex classic texts), or they will struggle with vocabulary. The only way to improve is to keep reading, to keep learning more vocabulary and to recognise that lots of children will make mistakes in these areas. Remember as well that a child’s ability to recall vocabulary reduces sharply under pressure, the more relaxed and confident you can help them to be the better they will do.
11 Plus Revision Plan Papers- Weeks five and six
During the final two weeks children should continue to work on their core skills as above and should continue to do one paper in each discipline as described above.
In addition if you have time it would be beneficial to do at least one mock exam exercise.
The reason mock exams are useful is that they help children get used to the stamina that will be required to get through exam day. Papers should be given in the exact way that they will face on the day. If for instance they will face two 45 minute papers with a half hour break starting at 11 in the morning then that’s exactly what they should get at home.
You can expect results to be lower because of the effect of sitting papers close together. It will also help to focus the family on how important it will be during the last two weeks to ensure children are not distracted, have plenty of rest and plenty of good things to eat and drink.
The seemingly small things like ensuring children are as unstressed as possible, ensuring they have been eating well and drinking well, ensuring they have had enough sleep, ensuring you have helped them build up stamina levels can make all the difference.
To find detailed advice on the mock process including which papers to use see our page on 11 plus mock exams