How to get a child to work more quickly in their 11 plus Verbal Reasoning exam?

This is a common question parents have. The solutions are never rocket science, just common sense.

1/ Look at the individual question types- check that they understand how to work them all out. A common failing is not understanding a type and spending too long on it.

2/ Understand how your child approaches each question type, are they using the quickest method?

3/ Make sure they have a clock in front of them…. Not a watch… not a mobile phone (common fault).

4/ Look at how they approach the paper. Some children are literally frightened of making mistakes so only complete 70% of the paper but get a very high proportion right. In these kinds of cases focus rewards on doing ALL the questions not how many they get right. It’s important for children to get the right balance between accuracy and speed and in some cases children are much too focused on accuracy, they need to learn to trust themselves to get the answer correct.

5/ Split the paper up into five minute or ten minute sections, just use a pencil and ruler. Children need to move on when their ten minutes is up. This gets them focussed on working at an even pace throughout the paper.

6/ Don’t force it too much, children need some processing time. Doing one paper a week over the final two months is more than enough timed practice. Children will improve over the period , they always do.

7/ Remember that some children will be ‘quicker’ than others, they may just be more intelligent in that way. These papers use a combination of question complexity and volume of questions to help decide who goes through. If you have a child who isn’t the quickest then don’t worry, your role is to give them the chance to be the best they can be.

8/ Remember it is a balance of speed and accuracy. Just as there’s no point in being accurate if 30% of the questions are unanswered, equally there’s no point in being quick if 30% of the answers are wrong.

9/ Remember that breadth of vocabulary and how your child feels on the day are likely to be much bigger differentiators than that extra ounce of speed or that extra element of accuracy. Spend what time you can on the basics, on improving vocab and improving technique and speed and accuracy will come.

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