Six week last minute 11 Plus preparation plan
Before you do anything else, understand the content of the test your child will face by doing some research into the grammar schools you are trying for.
Structured Courses or Books
With little time to go, you can use books and if that’s what you want to do then there is very detailed advice below in the ‘Last Minute Preparation Using Books’ title.
You could also use a structured course which takes the pain (and time) out of organising which books to buy and when to buy them.
With six weeks to go you have two options. Either use the Learning Street Boost courses (GL or CEM) or the Learning Street Revision Courses (GL or CEM). The boost courses are designed for ten very intensive weeks so they will give you more than enough to do. The revision courses are designed for four weeks but there is so much content there that we’d suggest it would be better to tackle them over six weeks.
If you wanted to use books that is an equally valid alternative and possible and hopefully the suggestions and plan below will lead to success for you.
Last Minute Preparation Using Books
Maths and Numerical Reasoning
Do the Maths assessment test to see if there are weaknesses in four operations or times tables. If there are then do ten minutes of practice questions (easy to devise yourself) every day. Children who are close to sitting the 11 Plus should score 48 plus in this assessment test to indicate their core skills are sound.
Do 1 page of Schofield and Sims Mental Maths 4 (answers also available) every day to help children develop speed and accuracy with their Maths work. This is not the hardest level of mental maths book but is useful for testing accuracy. Children without knowledge gaps should be scoring 100% on these tests. Children need to exercise their maths skills every day.
Do a Maths paper untimed with your child marking those questions they are sure of, sort of know and are unsure of beforehand. See how they did . This will help you to see which topics to focus on. For either CEM, GL or School Written Tests we’d suggest using either Letts 11+ Success Maths or GL Assessment Maths Pack 1. Remember feedback is where children make progress, just doing test after test will not help. If a test is 50 minutes, prepare yourselves to spend TWICE as long on marking and feedback.
Week two onwards:
If times tables and four operations were identified as weak then continue to do ten minutes per day on these.
Do 1 page of schofield and sims mental maths 4 each day. This will really help to sharpen up core accuracy levels and help children feel more confident. Mistakes should be carefully reviewed. Children should be aiming to get 100% on these tests. If children continue to make mistakes then get them to review the work as a spot the mistakes type exercise. This will help to enhance their self-checking skills.
Do 1 full 11+ timed Maths paper each week. Remember that it is the work you do going over the mistakes which will deliver improvement. It is not necessary to do more than 1 paper per week.
The above advice will also work well for CEM even though they call their test ‘numerical reasoning’ and it is not a separate test.
Week one onwards:
We suggest children should be doing some paired reading of classic books. This is to ensure that when they see a complicated piece of text in any comprehension exercise they are not thrown by it. They will be otherwise. To understand paired reading see our page on the subject. Suggestion of classic books to read – choose one or two from our classic books reading list you think might appeal. Do at least two paired reading sessions each week.
If children are sitting a GL or School written exam we’d suggest they do some work on punctuation and grammar. The best book to use for this at this stage we suggest is Letts Grammar and Punctuation Revision Workbook. You won’t be able to cover everything but some improvement will help. Do one or two pages from this each week. Try to focus on weaker areas.
Children should also do some work on spelling to try to enhance their skills. We suggest working through the following books as it will also help to enhance their vocabulary:
In addition, if you would like to we have developed an 11 Plus vocabulary list which is available free on site. Feel free to use it. You could go through it as a spelling and knowledge exercise to see which words they can spell correctly and which words they know the meaning of. Make a list of those they don’t and use it for development. This list contains words which have come up before, the more difficult words from the national curriculum and the top 100 most commonly misspelt words.
Do at least one full English paper every week. We’d suggest using these papers or these papers. Remember comprehension is a feature of GL, school written and CEM exams ( even though it appears within the VR section of CEM exams). Feedback is critical, go over mistakes carefully, make a note of words which they do not know and learn them ( meaning and spelling).
Week one onwards:
If they are doing CEM papers then we suggest you buy and work through the following book CGP 11+ Verbal Reasoning. This book contains technique help, question type introduction and eight timed assessment tests.
If they are doing any other kind of Verbal reasoning ( GL/School written/ Independent School) then we recommend that you buy the following book , IPS Verbal Reasoning Method and Technique. Use this book by looking at the technique and then doing the sample questions of that type from the back. When you have finished the book then do some test papers. We’d suggest using Letts 11+Success Verbal Reasoning or GL 11 Plus Verbal Reasoning Test papers Pack 1.
For CEM work through the suggested book in the first couple of weeks and then move onto the assessment tests at the back doing one per week. Again remember improvement comes from feedback. This book contains eight assessment papers so there’s no need to buy additional papers for this element.
For GL take two weeks to work through the book and then do one test per week.
Weeks one and two:
This is pretty much the same type of test whichever examining body sets the test. CEM questions do vary a little but as long as skills are learnt flexibly children will do well.
To introduce the topic use Schofield and Sims Non-Verbal Reasoning. Work through this in the first two weeks.
Week three onwards:
For Non-Verbal Reasoning we suggest doing at least two tests per week. Perhaps one per day.
What to do if you have more time
The most gain will come from the following areas:
– Developing a wide vocabulary and excellent spelling skills. You will have seen from the VR work that many questions require a strong vocabulary knowledge and technique will only get children so far. A weak vocabulary is the core reason why some children do better than others on VR.
– Times tables/four operations/accuracy in Maths/Numerical Reasoning. Most mistakes in these tests are made due to lack of accuracy/weakness in times tables/ four operations when under pressure. Any further work you can do will help.
– English- More paired reading, especially using classic texts.
– Non-Verbal Reasoning. We wouldn’t suggest that doing more than eight papers in a short spread of time will help because research shows it will not have a great deal of effect in this kind of test.
What to do for a change
We know that a good preparation plan uses the time you have available to improve results but also does so without placing undue pressure on your child. Playing games like Boggle and Scrabble can help. Try to make preparation as relaxed as possible and reduce stress levels as far as you can.