Across the Chilterns, pupils and parents are breathing a huge sigh of relief – after a lengthy postponement, the Eleven Plus exam is over for another year! Candidates for 2021 entry can finally relax but the exam is now a step closer for pupils who will be sitting it in the next few years. If you are wondering how and when to start preparing for the 11+ exam, read on for our expert advice.

Year 3: Lay the Foundations 

For parents of year 3 children, the 11+ exam may seem too far in the future to worry about. However, the standard of maths and English ability that the test demands should not be underestimated! Laying strong foundations in these core subjects is crucial and starting early has many benefits. With time on their side, your child will be able to work at their own pace to strengthen their skills and will avoid the stress of having to reach 11+ standard with the big day looming. 

It is also important at this stage to stretch and challenge your child in their stronger subjects. This will boost their confidence, speed up their progress and bolster their self-esteem. Resilience and self-belief will support them through their 11+ journey and so, alongside strong academic foundations, start building the emotional and mental foundations necessary for success. 

Year 4: Ready, Steady…
In year 4, children should keep honing their maths and English skills, focusing especially on exam technique. The 11+ exam requires speedy mental and written maths work, so regular quickfire practice and a sound knowledge of times table and division facts will help to ensure exam-readiness. Broadening vocabulary and improving spelling are vital, making reading non-negotiable! Whilst reading a wide variety of genres is ideal, reluctant readers may prefer non-fiction on a topic of interest or a newspaper designed for children, such as First News.

Alongside the above, introducing verbal and non-verbal reasoning skills now will allow your child plenty of time to get to grips with new ways of thinking, a substantial range of question types and the myriad exam techniques required to tackle them. An early start means children are not overwhelmed by the volume of material and have time to tackle it at a manageable pace.

Most importantly, support your child in developing resources that will help them to manage stress, aid their concentration and motivate themselves. Adopting a growth mindset is particularly helpful for children who become frustrated or demotivated by challenges or setbacks – have a look at our blog to learn more!

Year 5: Power Up!

Whilst a longer, steadier approach is ideal for many, it is never too late to start, and many children begin preparation for the exam in year 5. By this time, the test is on the horizon! Whilst pupils should continue to develop their knowledge of the content tested by the exam, over the year your child’s focus should increasingly be on mastering specific question types, working at speed and quickly identifying and applying the techniques they need to answer exam-style problems. Practice papers and mock experiences are vital to helping your child to prepare and develop the methods, pace and confidence required to tackle the exam successfully. 

As the intensity of preparation picks up, burnout becomes a risk. Simple things, like a regular bedtime, a healthy breakfast and time to play will make a world of difference. Additionally, techniques from neuro-linguistic programming can help to make time spent learning as effective as possible, as well as resourcing children to cope with stress, worry and frustration. Learn more here!

More than the 11+

Whenever your child starts their 11+ preparation, effective tuition and practice will support their learning, boost their confidence and help them to develop skills that will stand them in good stead at school and beyond. 

Need a little help?

Flying Start Tuition is an award-winning tuition company offering support for pupils at every stage of their 11+ journey. We offer primary maths and English courses for children in years 1-6 along with targeted 11+ courses in years 4 and 5. Our courses are effective, engaging and enjoyable – designed to provide pupils with the tools they need to succeed. 

For further information, contact:
t: 01494 772 898