By Sian Goodspeed, Founder of Flying Start Tuition

For many of us, exams mean stress. Unfortunately, stress is not only an unpleasant feeling, it can also inhibit our ability to think or recall anything – as our instinctive, primitive brains take over and we go into ‘fight, flight or freeze’ mode. (You’ll probably be nodding in agreement if you’ve ever experienced a ‘mind blank’ during a stressful situation such as an exam or an interview!)

If your child is busy preparing for the Eleven Plus this year, this may sound all too familiar.  For most ten or eleven year-olds, the Eleven Plus will be the first real exam they ever take, and, unsurprisingly, it is common for many to feel anxious or stressed when they enter the exam room – and even in the days and weeks leading up to the test. 

It makes sense, therefore, that helping your child to deal with stress and get into a calm, focused mindset ahead of exam day will maximise their chances of a positive outcome. Thankfully, there are a number of steps you can take to help your child to have a stress-free Eleven Plus experience:


We are sure you’ll agree that your child’s wellbeing is of utmost importance. When faced with a looming milestone like the Eleven Plus exam, it can be tempting to prioritise hours of intensive practice over play and relaxation. However, this is highly likely to lead to burnout and resentment which will be damaging to your child’s mental and physical health – as well as being counterproductive. 

At Flying Start, we strongly recommend a balanced approach to Eleven Plus preparation. Aim for focused bursts of study in between plenty of fun, exercise and rest. This will make the experience more enjoyable for all concerned – and your child will be far more likely to achieve their revision goals. 


Prioritising wellbeing will also have a positive impact on your child’s study and exam-day mindset. If they are well-rested and feeling healthy and happy they are more likely to feel motivated and focused whenever they do sit down to work. 

In addition, there are some simple tools and techniques your child can learn that will enable them to switch from an unhelpful to a resourceful emotional state (e.g. from stressed to calm or from lethargic to motivated.) At Flying Start, we call these techniques our 11+ Superpowers®!  We’ve been teaching 11+ Superpowers® to our students for over a decade – and experience has shown that they really can make all the difference to how your child fares, not only on the day of the exam, but in many other areas of their life too!

Holiday Revision

With the exam being so close to the start of the new school year, it is important to keep up regular practice over the summer holidays in order to avoid the dreaded ‘summer slide’. The amount and type of revision needed to keep up the momentum will be very much down to the individual and their family. As a rough guide, we recommend the following approach:

  • Have a complete break of at least one week at the beginning of the holidays. Time off to rest and recharge the batteries will pay dividends when your child settles down to start their revision in earnest.
  • For the rest of the holidays, aim to do some practice on five days out of every seven.
  • Try to vary the activities to keep it fun and interesting, eg. play a vocabulary game, do some mental maths practice on a car journey, use the online resources, do a variety of practice exercises etc.
  • Stop if your child seems to be tiring.
  • If your child is attending holiday tuition such as a holiday course or mock test experience, they should not do additional practice on those days – it’s important that they rest!

Mock Tests

Mock tests are an invaluable element of exam prep as they will help your child to feel comfortable within an exam setting. After all, what’s one more exam in September if you’ve already sat five during the summer holidays? Not only that, but seeing positive progress from one mock to the next is a great motivator for children which, of course, helps boost their confidence in the run up to the big day. 

Need a little help?

At Flying Start Tuition, we have been successfully supporting students through the 11+ process for the past fourteen years. Our award-winning approach is like no other as it combines the key elements that are essential for a stress-free 11+ experience – for you and your child. To find out more, visit our website and check out our special offers below.

11+ Superpowers Course

Through a series of fun, interactive video workshops, our 11+ Superpowers course will help your child tocombat self-doubt and conquer exam nerves so that they feel focused, motivated and ready to tackle their exam with confidence. 

Summer sale: £50 off!  

Mock Test Experiences

Conquer those exam day nerves by ensuring your child is up to speed and knows what to expect with our realistic Eleven Plus mock test experiences, running in Little Chalfont and Chesham. We make our mock tests as close to the real deal as possible and our professionally produced papers are often hailed as the best on the market. 

Summer offer: £10 off each mock test with code ‘mock10’.

Revision and Practice Courses

Need some structured support for holiday revision? We have a few spaces left on our popular holiday courses. Running in Chesham, Little Chalfont and online.

Now booking for September!

If your child is entering Year Four or Year Five in September and you’d like a balanced approach to your child’s 11+ tuition, then take a look at our website or give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.

t: 01494 772 898