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What Happens on the Day of the 11 Plus Exam?

The eleven plus exam is an important one which can affect the future of very young children. To pass it, make sure your child knows what to expect and can remain both calm and confident

Girl student The 11 plus exam is one of vital importance. Pass or failure can mean the difference between a grammar school education or a mainstream school. We all want the best for our children so of course we want them to do as well as they can in the eleven plus. But competition is fierce.

Those children who have prepared beforehand and who know what to expect will have an advantage over their classmates. Only the very highest marks have a chance to make it so give your child the edge. This article has all the information and advice you need to ensure your child is ready to pass the 11+.

The Day of the Test

Children can be nervous on the actual day of the test, and that can be a problem. The best way you can help them is to lead by example. Treat the day just like any other and do not show signs of nerves yourself. Our children pick up on our moods very easily.

Food can help us to think – but make sure it’s the right kind of food. Slow-release carbohydrates, as found in cereals or toast, will fuel the brain throughout the morning. Sugary foods are to be avoided. They give a quick boost of energy but when that fades our thinking can become cloudy or foggy.

Timing is also important. If getting to the exam is a stressful and hurried experience then your child will be in panic mode even before they start the test. To avoid this make sure that you get up in plenty of time. The time spent at home before leaving for the exam should be pleasant, not rushed. You should also make sure that you take issues such as traffic into account. If you arrive early that is OK. You can take a short walk to release any pent-up stress.

The questions must be answered with an HB pencil. This should be supplied by the school however, just to be on the safe side it doesn’t hurt to take one or two with you. A rubber and a pencil sharpener are also good ideas. Pencil cases, if used, must be clear so that they cannot be used to secrete any aids which are not permitted.

One more thing – make sure your child has used the toilet shortly before the exam. Time is precious during the test so having to leave the room will eat up valuable minutes which could mean the difference between pass and failure.

Taking the 11-plus Test

For children who are still very young (the test is taken by most children when they are ten) the exam room can be a daunting and frightening place. Some candidates may be reduced to tears or need to make frequent visits to the bathroom. Hopefully your child will not be one of them, but they should be mindful that there will be distractions caused by other children. The best thing they can do is ignore these and concentrate fully on the test itself.

If your child can choose where they sit then even something as simple as that can make a difference. Avoid if possible sitting near the doors where they may be disturbed by people entering or exiting the room. Other issues, such as sunshine or a distracting view through the windows, might also have to be dealt with. Sadly many of these cannot be avoided. Your child must learn to ignore them all and to put all their effort into the test.

Preparing for the Test

Many parents treat the run up to the 11+ exam as a time of intense practise. That is not the wisest of choices for most, although every child is different of course. Many children can be overwhelmed by too much work and this has the opposite effect to that which is desired.

Don’t get me wrong. Practise is very important – especially with the verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning parts of the exam. Most children will never have come across these kinds of question before so the more you can familiarise your child with them the better. But half an hour a day is plenty. There is no need to chain your child to a desk and expect them to practice for hours on end. So long as they are familiar with every type of question, and can work out the answers reasonably quickly (within 30 seconds ideally) then they should be OK.

Apart from study there are a few more things that will help prepare your child for the exam. Diet is important. Avoid too many sweet foods and go for ones which will help the brain. Oily fish is well known for this, but not many of us realise that water is even more important. Dehydrated brains are much less efficient so make sure your child has plenty to drink.

Exercise can help too. This burns off excess energy and helps them to relax and to sleep. And talking of sleep, this is one of the most important ways to help your child. A tired brain is not running at its full potential. Keep regular bedtimes in the run up to the exam and ensure that your child is not missing out of sleep.

Relax in the Run Up

Sleeping girl

The pressure of expectation is possibly the biggest hurdle children taking the exam will face. Nothing makes something harder than a fear of failure.

Thankfully this is a problem that you can remove. Simply reassure them that the world will not come to an end if they do not get a place at grammar school. You will love them just as much whether they pass or fail. This is a huge fear amongst children, that they will disappoint their parents so make sure yours know that, although you want them to do well, it is not a disaster if they do not.

If they can approach the test with the right attitude then it can actually be enjoyable. Try to get them to see it as a challenge to be overcome, rather than a test to be passed or failed. If they can view the exam in a similar way to how they would view a jigsaw say, or a crossword puzzle, then it ceases to be scary. This will help your child no end.

After the Test

It will be almost impossible to say how well your child has done until you see the results. Confident children often believe they did better than they really did, while less confident ones expect to have failed but in reality did well. Nevertheless, it is still a good idea to talk about the exam with your child after they have taken it – if only to find out their thoughts and to tell them how proud you are of them for taking it.

So there you have it, a guide to what happens on the day of the 11+ test, and some advice on how to prepare. In short, relaxed and confident children will preform better on the day, so do all that you can to help your child to remain cool, calm and collected.

Are there any other questions you have about the world of education or child-rearing? Then have a browse through the Education Quizzes Knowledge Bank. We have a wealth of articles on topics as varied as the primary school curriculum, the cost of university, or motivating your child to do their homework. Questions any parent will want to know the answers to. Why not have a look today?

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