Pressure and Stress in 11 Plus Verbal Reasoning Exams

The main reason children struggle with Verbal Reasoning on the day of the exam is that they find they do not have the vocabulary knowledge to answer the questions quickly and accurately enough. This isn’t a matter of technique, it’s a matter of knowledge.

Children have a vocabulary which exists on many levels. Each child has some words they know very well, they can spell them, define them and probably come up with synonyms and opposites for them. At the other end of the spectrum where they have seen a word before in a book their knowledge is weak, they are only just beginning to build up a contextual picture of the word and may have a feeling for what it means but couldn’t define it.

It is these words which tend to desert children under pressure, and in some cases these words might make up a high percentage of a child’s overall vocabulary. Under pressure a child’s performance in vocabulary questions might dip by between 10% and 30% and that is enough to alter the outcome of the exam overall.

Reducing the pressure and stress children are under is essential if they are to have a good Verbal Reasoning outcome on the day. See our page on dealing with pressure and stress during the 11 Plus to see how you might be able to help your child.

Remember it is not unusual for children who are capable of scoring 85% or even 95% to drop right back on the day. More often than not it is stress and pressure acting to limit their vocabulary.