How to Improve 11+ Exam Technique

The 11+ can be a daunting experience for both children and parents, but it doesn’t have to be! Although there is a lot of studying involved, did you know exam technique is an equally important skill in this exam? It is important to develop this alongside academic study so your child has the confidence to achieve the best results they can on the day. With that in mind, The Homework Helpline has teamed up with Atom’s education experts to create these 10 top tips to help your child improve their 11+ exam technique.

  1. Read the rules:  Before you answer any questions, skim your exam paper instruction sheet and underline any important instructions. 
  2. Stick to the timings for each section:  Some 11+ tests have timed sections and you must move on once that time is up. Look for the time allocations when you open your paper. Try to do a few timed practice papers to see if you get quick enough to finish the paper in the time allowed.
  3. Be aware of the time:  Wear a watch so that you don’t have to think about looking up to find the clock. Only ‘old’ watches are allowed - no smart watches or anything with a calculator!
  4. Read the questions CAREFULLY (we say RTQ very loudly at the HH!):  Some questions can catch you out! Pick out the key words and think about what you're being asked. "If in doubt, write it out" and "Show what you know" are also fave phrases at the HH - they mean that it may help to write out what the question is telling you, particularly in Maths.  Always read the last sentence at least once to ensure you know what to write down as the answer. Sometimes it might not be obvious from the rest of the question!
  5. Double-check:  Always double-check your answers. Make sure it makes sense by reading the question and answer together. Avoiding easy mistakes is the quickest way to improve your score. It is really important to use any spare time you have at the end of the exam to do this. Check by answering the questions again, not just that you have put something down!
  6. Tackle tricky vocabulary, don't ignore it:  If you are unsure of a word, try replacing it with a synonym to see what you think makes sense. If it is a multiple-choice question, use the process of elimination to rule out words that you know don’t fit. 
  7. Come back to hard questions at the end: If a question is tricky and taking too long, move on and get as many marks as you can on the easy questions first. Circle the question number so that it is easy to find later when you want to come back to it.
  8. Trust your instincts: Try not to overthink it, and keep changing your answer. So long as you’ve read the question carefully, your first answer is usually correct! Lots of chopping and changing will get your head in a pickle. If you aren't sure, move on!
  9. Complete every question: You can’t lose marks for not answering a question! If you are not sure, use process of elimination to help narrow down your options and then select what you think is the most sensible answer, and in short answer questions, write something! You never know, you might pick up a mark!
  10. Don't panic: By the time it comes to your exam, you will have done a lot of hard work. You will be well-equipped to answer those questions and do your very best. Worrying and panicking will pickle your mind and make you rush and make silly mistakes. If you go in with a confident, positive Growth Mindset of "I can and I will succeed!" you are MUCH more likely to succeed. You've got this!

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The Homework Helpline has teamed up with Atom Learning to give you an exclusive gift of 10% off your first month. Click this link to start your 5-day free trial for success in the classroom, entrance exams and beyond.