5 ways to boost 11+ holiday revision

by | Aug 1, 2017 | Exams | 0 comments

Glide through the summer holidays a bare few weeks before the dreaded Kent Test 11+ on a gentle sea of calm. Banish those miserable parent-child battles and put a plan in place that works for everyone. Even though the exam is imminent, it isn’t the amount of work your child sits through that will ensure a good performance. The key is to set just the right amount of exactly the right content. And that’s where we come in…



Bond books? Dated and dull. No. CGP Books – wrong board. So that’s another No. The trick to a successful holiday revision programme is to use the correct content in exactly the right way. Shave off precious hours and minutes of wasted – yes totally wasted – time. For our special ‘new-style’ Kent Test you will need:

GL 11+ Practice Papers: Maths, English,VR and NVR – Spatial Content is more tricky and it’s best to use a book for this. Our favourite of the moment is this one.

The links above take you to Pack 1 of each type. There is a Pack 2 and that’s it. So if you’ve done these papers already you need another source. Best to stick to the multi-choice format, so at that point you might consider Bond 11+ Multi-choice Practice Papers (but definitely not the Bond Books).


The exam is unique to Kent and the timings are different from pretty much all the books you can buy. But it is easy to fix this problem yourself, using the resources set out above:

Maths – cut the exam papers above in half. The first 25 questions of each paper are slightly easier than the second. This allows for a lovely gentle beginning to the revision programme. So do all the first halves first. The real thing has 25 questions in 25 minutes. No problem.

English – do these papers in pieces. Don’t be tempted to time them as they say on the packet. This won’t do your child any favours, as there used to be so much more time allowed. Comprehensions now should be done separately in 20 minutes (aiming to get them down to about 17). The exercises at the back should be done individidually – ideally ask your child to time a pair of them together. They are given 2 sets in the exam, but with fewer questions. If you work on 4 mins for 8 questions when revising this is fine. Remind your child constantly that in the real thing there are 6 questions and they will need to time themselves as no one will help them do it. This is the best way to use the most appropriate resources. On the day they will have 24/26 questions in 25 minutes including a comprehension and two exercises.

Reasoning – work on individual exercises lifted from the above exam papers. Try 2 types at a time. Don’t worry about timing but discuss order – coding takes longer so should be done last on the day. At the moment work to around 30 seconds per question as a guide. Don’t give a whole VR paper or NVR paper. They are not tested like this, so it will lead to confusion. On the day they will do 34 VR questions in 20 minutes. NVR and Spatial are timed as individual exercises – with around 10 questions in 4 minutes. Stay off the timings early in the holidays as they will only be ready for these once they’ve done the revision.


It is amazing how much work can be got though in a short period of time. Especially when it is the right work that has been planned as a proper programme, before your child is asked to sit down. Work on a 2 day rotation:

Day 1

Play a tables app on a phone or tablet for 2 or 3 minutes. Pick a speed-based one.

Do a 25 minute maths paper (see above).

Pick out 2 NVR (and later spatial) exercises from the exam papers. The NVR papers offer 12 questions in 5 or 6 minutes, for the Spatial from the book, aim for about 30 seconds per question. Early in the programme don’t time these exercises as it will breed anxiety. Introduce the timings later in the holiday. You can offer them – with a phone timer as a guide – but say it is ok to run over.

Day 2

Play a parts of speech app on a phone or tablet for 2 or 3 minutes.

Do a 20 minute comprehension (see above).

Pick out 2 of the 3 grammar exercises at the back of a paper. Time the 2×8 questions at 30 seconds per question, so 8 minutes. Ask your child to manage the timings themselves once you are a few days in.

Pick out 2 short VR exercises (and only one if it is a tricky type). Complete without timings.


Your child will be awake for around 13 hours or so each day. Explain that a mere 45 minutes early in the day is a fair trade for no mention of it and plenty of fun for the other 12 hours and 15 minutes. Stick to the time in the morning and make it a proper routine. Offer favourite drinks and snacks and stick them in a lovely quiet – well lit – corner. Make them feel valued.


No mention of the work for the rest of the day is part of the deal. It is usually easy to throw in a few corrections within the 45 minute slot. Try to mark the Maths or English while they are doing the Reasoning. Then you can go over corrections by promising to keep them under a couple of minutes. Do not betray your child by running over the 45 minute total… If corrections need time then save them for another day and present them in their most time-savvy form.


By now your child will be at risk of burn-out if you’ve been a bit full-on over the past few months. Reassure them that they are allowed a proper holiday. If you are away for the first 2 weeks of this month then well done. Give them the full 2 weeks off (this is for children who have followed a programme of work all year – you may have to cut this back if your child is having to cram). Keep weekends free too. If your holiday falls at a less convenient time, then come up with a plan that is fair and allows your child a bit of head-space.

As a quick note at the end of this, it is important to book in for a couple of exam practice sessions over the summer break. These help to focus the mind and should pick up any weaker areas. Our sessions are full I’m afraid and you need to be very careful that any you book are in the Kent Test format. The wrong exam session is considerably worse than none at all. The programme set out above will settle in the right content and the right timings, so if you’ve missed the boat you can simply set some more formally timed sessions, using the same material.