Yes, Kent Test 11+ 11+ Mock Exams are Essential … and Glorious

by | Feb 2, 2023 | Exams, Front page posts, Parents | 0 comments

Isn’t working hard at school enough to achieve a pass in the Kent Test 11+?

The unfortunate truth is that school is not enough.

You may be surprised to discover that the 11+ exam content is not covered at all in primary classrooms in Kent. It’s not allowed. Head teachers are instructed by Kent County Council that formal exam preparation in schools is against the rules of the exam.

So, even if your child is smashing it at school in every subject, you will need to prepare them fully for the challenge of the exam ahead.

At Griffin Teaching we have years of experience running revision programs for 11+ preparation. Our year 5 Kent Test 11+ tutor clubs almost always have a waiting list. Each year 700+ of our Kent Test 11+ mock exams, are taken in person or online.

What we’ve found is that most parents know that some form of tutoring is essential to passing the 11 plus.

But parents are less convinced it’s essential that their child sit Kent Test mock tests, thinking that working through practice papers from GL Assessment (or CGP) at home should achieve the same results.

Being a Kent Test geek – I know that the real papers don’t match the practice papers you can buy at home in content or timings. Imagine how confusing it is for a child to practise hour-long maths papers at home, only to find they have just 25 minutes on the day…

Mock tests are so much more than just practice papers.

The truth is that mock tests are glorious.

We run mock exams every year because it’s not just the timed questions on the papers that pose the challenge.

It’s the experience.

Mock exams are essential to Kent Test 11+ prep because when September rolls around you need your child to be completely confident not just in the material itself but also at home in the exam room. Relaxed. And totally trusting their test-taking strategy.

Think of mock exams as a diagnostic tool

It isn’t only the questions that are challenging on test day.

The Kent Test, for example, has unusually short papers which students need to complete under intense time pressure.

Children familiar with the timings and trained in specific Kent Test exam techniques simply do better than those who are not. It shows in their results.

Mock exams offer a fantastic diagnostic tool which should be experienced as early as possible in your child’s 11+ revision programme.

Every year, beginning in February, we run a series of 6 different mock Kent Test papers (called Mock A to Mock F). Our mock exams are warm, reassuring events. Each mock is designed to replicate the real Kent Test papers, timings and exam conditions.

Children come out of them buzzing with confidence, properly familiar with the layout and form of the real thing—and fully aware of their strengths.

The mock experience isn’t over once they get their detailed breakdown of results. We follow up with direct support to tackle any of their weaknesses (targeted notes, specific resources, and even a free corrections session).

Mocks aren’t something that should be attempted in the last couple weeks before the real exam. The earlier they start, the more time we have to tackle any issues that come up.

The point of mock exams is that they aren’t the real thing

Children benefit most from mocks when they approach them seriously, but lightly.

Mock exams are the best time to make mistakes. Why not get those mistakes out of the way before test day in September?

Some of these mistakes are easily fixable but would be devastating if they occurred during the real test. It’s the little things, like a child not completing a page because they turned over two pages at once. Some students fill in the multi-choice boxes incorrectly, mis-time a loo break, or struggle to complete coding in the time allowed.

Making these kinds of simple mistakes are no big deal on a mock. They’re also the kind of mistakes that you only make once!

The Kent Test 11+ is an unusually fast-paced exam, which makes employing an effective exam technique essential. The Kent Test (perhaps even more than other, computer-based 11 plus exams) must be approached with a strong strategy in place for every element of every paper, if a child is to achieve their best score on the day.

We teach this kind of strategic approach in our classes, but there is nothing like trying it out for real.

Mock exams are the perfect time to practise these strategies and be convinced of their efficacy. It’s so funny to see how students choose to ignore good advice at first, only to cave when they realise the score uplift that comes from them. My youngest son was a classic for this!

Although the day of the mock exam everything looks terribly formal, we do bring a light-hearted approach. Our exam room always includes plenty of smiles, quiet morale-boosting chats for nervous children, and a general sharing of fears between a whole bunch of children who are going through this process together.

What to expect with our Kent Test mock exams

Our series of Kent 11+ mock papers are the product of an incredible amount of thought and energy. We’ve done everything we can to match real exam conditions. The exams were individually commissioned, from experts in their fields, to directly reflect the content and timings of the Kent Test. A graphic designer styled them up to look like the real thing. They look spookily real!

(One Kent Test invigilator recently told us that our mock exams are “incredibly similar” to past Kent Test papers.)

Mock 11+ exams vs. real 11+ exams

It would be difficult to spot the difference between the real Kent Test papers and our series of mock Kent Test papers.

Of the six mock Kent Test papers – A to F – the first two are slightly thinned of content. They are designed to be taken earlier in the year (February half term and April) when the students will be in the middle of the curriculum teaching. There is no point testing a child on the later content – algebra for example, or three-dimensional spatial reasoning – if they haven’t covered it at that point.

The students themselves can’t tell the difference between the earlier two (A and B) and the later papers (D,E and F), because the timings, content, and level of difficulty still match up for every mock.

Experience has taught me the diagnostic value of the mock exams. Parents often worry their child hasn’t covered enough content, so book their first mock only weeks before the actual exam in September. This never fails to worry me. By the summer, there is less time left to address any issues that arise.

The more mock exams the children take, the more familiar they are and their confidence sky-rockets.

We like to over-deliver. Unlike the Kent Test results email, the mock exam feedback we give you as a parent includes your child’s raw score for each paper in addition to an age-adjusted aggregate score. Our adjustment formula was created by a highly respected statistician (who has years of experience working with Kent Test scores) to mirror the scoring of the real exam. In fact last year, some of our children’s real aggregate scores matched their most recent mock exactly!

Of course, you want to know much more than just your child’s performance in terms of the raw marks on the English & Maths paper, and the Reasoning paper.

Our teachers record details about the children as they work—noting down those who struggle to focus, those who use a tick instead of a dash in the answer boxes, those who spend too long on an element of a paper. Instead of providing just top-level scores for each paper, we break down the individual raw scores into topics and subtopics, so that we can easily focus on specific gaps afterwards.

The information we send back to you is detailed but easy to understand. It arrives in your inbox within 24 hours. To avoid any anxiety we even give an overview of how to explain the score breakdown to your child. You’ll have access to a whole secret feedback webpage chock-full of troubleshooting advice and resources. We will give you all the extra support you need.

Finally, after every mock there is a free hour-long corrections session sent to you on video (so you can pause and rewind it at leisure).

Which mock should I book first?

My own children sat every mock exam and sailed into their real exam without a backward glance.

Taking more than one mock is a wise strategy. The more mocks a student does, the greater the breadth of their exam experience. After taking 6 mock exams, the actual Kent Test will just seem like a regular, everyday experience.

We always recommend that students sign up for the first test, Mock A. There’s no need to commit to to the whole series; you can always book more mocks later. Starting with the first one gives you insight into how your child responds to the exam experience.

Registration for our Kent Test 11+ mocks is open now. Register now because if history is any guide there will be a waiting list before long. We run in-person mock exams in Kings Hill, Pembury, and Sevenoaks and also run live, online versions via Zoom.