11 Plus Exam Tips for Success

The 11 Plus exam is a standard format for entrance exams to grammar schools and most independent schools, and success depends on how well a child can navigate the exam papers, select the correct answers, and perform under timed conditions. 

Here, we offer top tips to help parents and children prepare effectively for the 11 Plus exam.

11 Plus Exam Tips for Success

11 Plus Exam Tips for Success

In taking the 11 Plus entrance exams, incorporating strategies into your child’s 11 Plus preparation can significantly improve their chances of success in the test and gaining entry to a selective secondary school. Take a cue from the following methods:

Start the Preparation Early On

Begin the preparation process early, ideally in Year 4 or 5. This allows your child ample time to develop the necessary skills and knowledge required for the 11 Plus exams. 

Starting early also allows for a more gradual and less stressful approach to learning. This way, children are able to slowly but solidly build the foundation in the tested subjects.

Understand the Exam Format

Familiarise yourself with the specific format of the exam used by the target school or the exam board that administers the test in your area. Different schools and exam boards may have variations in their testing methods, so understanding the format should not be overlooked. This knowledge will also help your child focus on the right topics and types of questions.

Focus on the Core Subjects Covered

When preparing for the 11 Plus exam, your focus should be on the core subjects that are usually covered. These include mathematics, English, verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Each test paper demands specific skills, so it’s important to tailor your child’s preparation accordingly.

Core Maths and Mental Maths

Concentrate on core math skills and mental math. Regularly revisit the times tables and engage in maths games to make the learning process enjoyable for your child while reinforcing essential mathematical concepts.

English Skills

Given the emphasis on English skills in a grammar or independent school, ensure your child is well-versed in grammar, spelling, and reading comprehension. Regular reading is a simple yet effective way to enhance their English abilities. Encourage a diverse range of reading materials to expose them to various writing styles and genres, contributing to a well-rounded skill set.

Verbal Reasoning

Pay special attention to verbal reasoning. These are common components of the 11 Plus exams and require specific skills such as logic and problem-solving skills and even language and vocabulary aptitude. It’s worth noting that this skill is not usually a part of the primary school curriculum, so the only way to get children familiar with and learn the skill is through practice tests.

Regularly practice these reasoning skill questions to help your child build proficiency, understand the patterns commonly found in these questions, and develop effective strategies for tackling them during the actual exam.

Non-Verbal Reasoning

Non-verbal reasoning is another unfamiliar subject but is a very crucial 11 Plus exam paper. These questions assess problem-solving abilities through shapes and patterns. 

Provide your child with ample practice in non-verbal reasoning questions to familiarise them with the different question types and enhance their ability to analyse and solve visual problems.

Use Practice Papers and Past Papers

Obtain practice papers and past exam papers from the relevant exam boards. These materials serve as a great resource for gaining insight into the types of questions asked and the overall format of the exams. 

But, be careful not to use practice papers very early on in your test preparation. Work through their core skills first then slowly introduce the papers to identify areas of strength and weakness. This will also help your child improve and become familiar with the structure of the exam and refine their test-taking strategies.

Do Mock Tests

Simulate exam conditions at home through mock tests or timed conditions. Parents and children will find this a practical way to prepare for the actual exam. This is because setting timed tests helps them get used to the pressure of completing questions within a specified timeframe. 

Some schools and tutorial centres offer on-site mock tests, giving your child the added benefit of a supervised testing environment and sitting the exam with other children. Other parents opt to take online mock tests at home, with various educational sites and platforms offering such services.  

Teach Your Child Exam Techniques

Teach students effective exam techniques, such as reading questions carefully, managing time wisely, and filling out the answer sheet accurately. These skills are essential for success in a timed, multiple-choice format.

Manage Time Wisely

The exams may have different timing rules across papers, so it helps if children can practice under varied time conditions. Tutors can help students find a time-segregated exam technique that suits them, such as allocating time based on question marks. Here you can use tools like timers or alarms during practice to simulate exam conditions and enhance time management skills.

Read Questions Carefully

Reading and re-reading questions is a fundamental exam technique. Anxiety can lead to misinterpretations, so make it a habit for your child to double-read questions before they answer. Tutors can reinforce this by regularly asking students to explain what a question is asking for. Simple yet effective, this practice ensures that your child takes the time to understand the questions fully.

Approach for Multiple-choice Questions

The 11 Plus test is almost always in a multiple-choice question format. Teach your child the techniques for handling this type of question. Tutors should address the mechanics of completing answer sheets, including whether to use ticks or crosses. They can also guide students on guessing strategies.

In the last minutes of the exam, students can choose an option if they’re still unsure of the answer. A guess may not be the correct answer but it still increases the chances of getting some answers right than a blank or no answer at all.

Come Back to Hard Questions at the End

If a question is too tricky and takes too much crucial time during the 11 Plus exam, it’s smart to move on to easier ones first. This way, a child can answer questions and collect marks quickly.

Circle keywords or the number of the hard question so they can find it easily later when they go back to it. This exam technique helps them use their time well and boosts confidence by getting points on the easier questions first.

Encourage School Activities

Encouraging school activities is a great way to balance 11 Plus exam preparation. Engage your child in a variety of activities like joining a math club or participating in spelling bees that can reinforce academic skills and key knowledge areas.

Drama or debating clubs, on the other hand, can enhance critical thinking and communication skills in children. This well-rounded approach develops a diverse skill set that can be beneficial during exams.

Boost Their Confidence

Boosting your child’s confidence is crucial for exam success. Apart from positive affirmations and praise, take constructive approaches. Familiarise them with the exam room and surroundings by visiting the venue beforehand. This helps reduce anxiety on the actual exam day. 

Also, encourage your child to share their knowledge with you or others. This will help boost their confidence in their abilities, and confidence is a key factor in tackling questions effectively.

Avoid Too Much Pressure

While it’s important to prepare adequately, avoid putting too much pressure on your child. Keep a balanced approach to maintaining a positive attitude towards learning and the exams and fostering a healthy mindset.

In setting realistic study goals, try to incorporate fun learning activities. Turn some study sessions into games or challenges to keep the atmosphere light and enjoyable.

Master the 11 Plus

A unique, confidence-boosting way to study for the 11 Plus

Is It Hard to Pass the 11 Plus Exam?

Pass or Fail: 11 Plus Exam Tips for Success

The difficulty of passing the 11 Plus exam can vary depending on a child’s ability, preparation, and familiarity with the exam format. 

It assesses a child’s core skills in subjects like maths and English, as well as verbal and non-verbal reasoning that are often beyond the primary school syllabus. For students who excel in these areas, the test may not be excessively challenging. However, for others who may struggle with certain aspects of the curriculum or experience test anxiety, it can be perceived as more difficult. 

The timed test nature of the 11 Plus paper adds an extra layer of challenge, requiring effective time management and mastering exam techniques.

For many parents, the process can be stressful, especially considering the competition for a grammar school place and entry into a selective school. Parents need to be aware of any specific requirements of the individual schools their child is applying to. Different schools may place emphasis on different aspects of the exam paper, so tailor your preparation accordingly.

Keep yourself informed about any updates or changes to the 11 Plus exam, exam board, or school requirements so your preparation stays aligned with current expectations.

Whilst passing the 11 Plus test may pose challenges, strategic and early preparation can significantly enhance a child’s chances of success. Encourage your child to improve their skills, feel confident, and manage exam-related stress. There should also be a balance of exam preparation with a child’s overall development.

How Do You Pass the 11 Plus Exam Easily?

11 Plus Exam Tips for Success

Passing the 11 Plus exam with ease requires a well-rounded and strategic approach to preparation. The key here is consistent practice and skills development over a period of time leading to the exam day. 

Let the child get familiar with the specific content and format of the exam. Practice regularly with past exam papers to get accustomed to the types of questions that may be asked. Get them into a study schedule that covers all subjects and allocate sufficient time to each. You may also consider additional support, such as tutoring or study groups, to clarify any concepts your child may find challenging.

On the day of the exam, remind your child to read each question carefully, stay focused, and manage their time wisely. Encourage them to do their best without feeling overwhelmed. Most of all, both parents and children should stay positive, and when a child feels confident, it can significantly improve your child’s performance.

How Can I Improve My 11 Plus Exam Score?

If you want to improve your child’s 11 Plus score, figure out what they’re good at and what needs work by doing practice tests. Focus on the areas where they need more practice, like specific math problems or types of reasoning questions. 

Ask for help from teachers or online resources if you’re stuck on something. The more that children practice, the more likely they are to do well on the actual exam and get better test results.