11 PLUS EXAMS THE PRESSURE IS BUILDING.
11 PLUS exams is the name given to an examination taken by year 6 students who are age 11 or plus. This is a voluntary exam and is held every year to test the intellect of the students for getting admission in Grammar schools or selective schools. The selective schools as the name suggests select the students on the basis of their academics contrary to the normal comprehensive schools which doesn’t have any specific academic criteria for admission. The test comprises of questions in English, Maths, Verbal and non Verbal reasoning.
The preparation timings for the 11 plus exams start after year 3 and goes till year 5. When children are at year 3 its time they are building some important skills so you have to take things slowly. In this year you can work on english skills and develop core maths skills with reading everyday to get a bright result. In year 4 you have to carry on the practice of building core skills. The most important thing to avoid in year 3 and 4 is to solve past papers in a limited time frame. Once the core skills are developed with proper concepts and understanding it will be easy for the children to comprehend the questions and solve in less time. In year 5 , the children can start practising verbal and non verbal reading depending on their tests format. Also in year 5, the process of building their core skills is almost complete so now they can solve past papers in the allocated time for each paper.
An exam or a pressure?
One thing that as an elder we should keep in mind that afterall they are children aged 11 and preparing for an exam. Too much pressure and keeping 11plus the only topic of conversation at home will stress your child. The preparation should be done slowly so that children feel less pressurised and carry out their normal activities. No matter how well they are prepared but a pressure on exam day is very likely to effect any child. Too much pressure will only spoil their results, they need a fresh and relax mind to solve logical questions in maths and thoughtful questions for verbal reasoning. The stamina of each child differs from each other so its better to schedule the timetable according to your child understanding and absorption capabilities. Similarly, its always better to prepare the kids that 11 plus is not an end of the world.
Keys for a better preparation:
• The most common mistake to avoid is making them solve too many past papers but not focussing on core skills. 11 plus exams doesn’t revolve around certain curriculum so if i child has mastered the basic skills he can solve any such similar questions.
• They should not feel that if they don’t get successful in this exam they will not have any good opportunities in future.
• Avoid talking to people or parents who have ‘i know it all’ attitude as it will only confuse you from the pattern you have planned for your child.
• Any preparation which is done gradually with proper understanding has fruitful results so keep it slowly.
• You should know the basic test pattern and prepare all the subjects that comes under the syllabus. Sometimes parents assume that if they go out of syllabus and solve year 7 or 8 maths it will help them but it tends to bring opposite results. The simpler questions at times require more tricks.
• Keep the environment around your child nice and friendly so that they can enjoy while they are learning.
• Boost your child confidence at every step of preparation.
• Maths and non verbal parts are considered tricky and sometimes parents focus more on these subjects although learning too much english vocabulary is also a tedious task. Each subject has to be focused equally and slowly as a student can loose marks in anyone of them. Whereas for english vocabulary learning is achieved by reading at least half an hour everyday.
• Don’t judge your child initially on the amount of scores he obtains in assessment tests. If a child has not finished the cirriculum it is impossible to achieve a good score.
Tips for preparation:
• The children always need their own time to play and have some other activities after school so you have to be sure to avoid choosing schools that are too far from your home. in secondary schools they still need to do homework and studies at home so the lesser the travelling distance the better for them.
• Build a wide vocabulary by reading books and talking to your elders. The children who have a good vocabulary are likely to score higher. They may watch tv programmes, or listen to the radio.
• When the preparation is started early they have plenty of time to focus on maths and english skills.
• You can choose any route for the preparation like private tutors, 11 plus books at home, tuition groups or guided 11 plus courses whichever suits you best. Each route has its own merits and demerits but studying at home is cheap and good solution.
• Stick to your timetables that you have planned for a week it will automatically teach you time management skills.
• Once the children have learnt the topic you can test them by giving related questions but not before that as it will waste their time on solving each question.
• Don’t let the 11 plus discussion topic to start at meal or any fun times because it will keep your child under pressure.
• Make sure the children eat well, drink well and do exercises to keep their mind fresh especially on the exam day. A healthy mind needs a healthy body.
Like everything 11 plus exams and then getting admission to grammar schools has both benefits and few disadvantages. The children being given admission to grammar schools are taught more complex materials because they are believed to have more adapting quality. In future wherever they study further they assume to have a lot of knowledge which is very expectant of a grammar school student. In secondary schools they are focussed more on getting good grades so that they can get better A level results and then admission to top universities.
No matter where your child studies its you who shape their future and make them a better person. It is indeed a great opportunity for a child to study in a grammar school but at the same time there are examples of people who have studied in comprehensive schools but have a very bright future and are working in reputable companies.