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Top tips for 11+ prep over the summer

July 02, 2018 by Helen Lami


The start of the summer break is only weeks away and it could be the last opportunity for some children to get solid revision done before they sit their 11+ exam in September. But keeping a child focused and organised during the break isn’t easy. It pays to start preparing now. Here, Helen Lami gives her tips on how parents can use the summer break to set their children up for 11+ success.

Identify strengths and weaknesses

One of the benefits of home studying or private tuition over the holiday is you’re able to tailor the revision to suit your child’s needs. That’s why it’s crucial to get a good understanding of both their strengths and their weaknesses so you know what to prioritise. Speak to your child to find out what they’re struggling with and which areas of the test (maths, English, verbal reasoning or non-verbal reasoning) they are most worried about. Ask your child’s teacher for advice as well.

Work with your child to create a timetable

Once you have a better idea of what your child needs to focus on, you can then start putting together a bespoke study programme. This should involve no more than an hour of revision or private tuition per day. Any more and you risk them burning out before they even sit the test. Work with your child to create the programme and ask them to design a timetable. At the start of each week, look over it together to remind them what was agreed and what’s coming up. Involving your child like this is a good way to avoid battles.

Reward and praise

The study programme should include regular rewards to maintain a healthy balance between work and play. Ask your child to help design a reward chart and let them decide which rewards they would like for completing revision that week or month. You could also pre-arrange time with your child’s friends which are part joint-study sessions, part play dates. Finally, when your child makes progress through their own hard work and effort, give them plenty of praise. Various studies have linked “process praise” with increased motivation in children.

Run your own mock exam To help your child prepare and perfect their exam technique, why not get hold of practice 11+ papers and organise a mock test? To make it authentic, you could arrange the mock exam alongside other children taking the test and hold it in a quiet room with an adult supervising to ensure no chatting!. This should help to familiarise your child with a formal exam environment, making them less anxious during the real test.

Reading is fundamental

It’s very likely that your child will be tested on his or her ability to understand complex vocabulary and sentence construction. The best way to prepare for this is read, read, read. Over the summer, your child should aim to get through at least one book. Search online to find recommended reading lists. Having regular discussions with your child on the book they’re reading is also crucial. This will give them the opportunity to raise any words or sentences they didn’t understand. To promote discussion, it would be worth you reading the book at the same time. You could even get other children and parents involved and turn it into a fun summer book club.