Last Minute 11 Plus Preparation Process
If you only have a few weeks to three months or so to go then we’d suggest the following:
Work on core skills as part of last minute preparation
11 Plus preparation , even at the last minute, is not made up doing practice paper after practice paper. Those children who uses practice papers as the core of their preparation ALWAYS underperform. Working on core skills should be at the heart of a good preparation plan. So as an example children should be reading every day, children should be actively developing their vocabulary, children should be enhancing their ability to tackle classic texts, children should be doing plenty of mental maths and children should be working on accuracy both in literacy and numeracy tests. Practice tests have a role to play but ignoring core skills development work puts children at a distinct disadvantage.
To see how core skills should be built into last minute 11 plus preparation see our sample preparation plan.
Identifying knowledge gaps is essential- even at the last minute
– A very large part of any gain that children will make comes from exam technique. You should ask your children to go through a test paper (ignore the time element to start with) and answer those questions they believe they know all about. They should focus on getting 100% on these questions. Once they have answered these they can go back and try the others starting with those they think they can have a good attempt at. We suggest children follow this process because we don’t want them not answering questions they could have got right because they got caught up with answering a question about a subject they were unsure of. Tackling exams in a smart way can bear fruit even if some knowledge is lacking. Children will need to do a number of papers to get this right.
– You should spend ample time going over ANY questions which were not answered or which your child got wrong. What you will be doing is trying to build up their skills and fill in the gaps that the papers reveal. This is normally not what we would suggest but when time is very tight it is the only approach that makes sense.
Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning
– Where your child is facing a Verbal Reasoning or Non-Verbal reasoning paper then make sure you buy a book on how to answer the questions and do plenty of practice. Children can reach their full potential in Non-Verbal in a very short time and they can make good progress in Verbal Reasoning (although a narrow vocabulary may hold them back).
So in essence working smart is the order of the day. Don’t try and do all the work you could have done if you had started early ( it is unrealistic and a waste of time). Focus instead on doing what you can.
Please do not fall into the trap of going for a programme of hard work believing it will solve the problem, it won’t. We have heard of families putting their children through six or eight hour a day work regimes during the summer holidays and it really doesn’t work. Apart from anything else it is liable to produce the kind of stress and pressure which will lessen performance on the day.
Additionally remember these key points
Your child will drop most marks in Maths due to little mistakes rather than major gaps in knowledge. You should test their ability in times tables and four operations using this maths assessment test . If your child ( a month or so out from the exam) scores less than 48 then it is likely further work can be done on accuracy.
What else should you be doing.
Remember that plenty of children, particularly bright children get through the 11 Plus doing very little preparation work, it can be done.
Remember that by focussing on doing some papers and familiarising children with the topic and demands for speed and accuracy you will be seeing a very great improvement in their performance. Filling in knowledge gaps will help further.
Keep the pressure and stress levels down
The critical point to remember beyond this is to keep things as light hearted and unpressurised as possible. Children who have done lots and lots of preparation sometimes feel much more pressure than those who have just done a little familiarisation. This can be a distinct advantage for late starters.
If you can make sure your child knows what they are doing , are happy with the plan and go into the exam in a relaxed mood then you will have done the best you can for them. There will be plenty of children who go in having done much more preparation but they may well be handicapped by nerves ( children under too much pressure often see performance drops of 10%-25%).
Resource recommendations and a sample last minute 11 Plus preparation plan