The 11+ generally takes place in September or October of your child’s final year of primary school, though some private schools that use the 11+ hold it in January, and a handful of schools have the test in July. If your child’s 11+ test has crept up on you, don’t panic. Even if there are only three months to go until the 11+, there’s plenty you can do to support and prepare your child.

Get the basics right. Over the summer holidays, it’s normal to let things slide a bit, like not being as strict about bedtimes orthe ratio of vegetables to sweets – especially when there are other factors to be considered, such as homeschooling amid a global pandemic. Three months before the 11+ is a good time to start getting these things back on track. You want your child to be alert and well-rested going into the exam, not bleary-eyed and powered by sugar. It’s amazing how much of a difference a solid routine can make.

Start practising time management, if you haven’t already. Good exam technique, such as allocating the right amount of time per question and checking answers thoroughly, is particularly vital under the strict time restrictions of the 11+. If your child has been doing practice tests without a timer before now, you should start instituting exam conditions. Get them a watch they can easily read (if they haven’t mastered an analogue clock, now isn’t the time for that battle) and encourage them to keep track of the time independently. 

Do regular practice tests. Up until now, your child’s preparation for the 11+ might have included a mixture of learning vocabulary and building up their knowledge and skills. With three months to go, the focus should swing much more towards practising with past papers. The 11+ has all kinds of idiosyncrasies but with lots of practice, the question style and content should become familiar to your child.

Take the pressure off. Pressure breeds stress, and stress is counterproductive when it comes to acing the 11+. As much as you can, try to encourage your child to see passing the 11+ as a nice to have rather than something that will define their whole future (even if you don’t see it that way yourself!). Practice sessions should be balanced out by treats and time spent with friends, so your child enters the exam room feeling confident, relaxed and ready to succeed.


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