The clock is ticking. This year’s Kent Test is in just over two weeks. Parents are panicking across the county. And if you are one of them you just cannot let your own personal flap show on the outside. Your child needs calm and measured direction at this point and you are the only one who can offer it.
This post is not for parents who have suddenly switched on to exam preparation for the first time, but for those whose children have been preparing for this test for a while.
Be reassured. There is time for a little gap filling, but it is a strong exam strategy that will save the day at this late stage. Here’s a subject-by-subject breakdown to steady those jangling nerves:
- Gather a handful of 11+ English exam papers and sit down with your child and a couple of hot drinks at a good moment. Make sure you have read the text extracts yourself before you begin.
- Pick one paper. Ask your child to read the text through at a comfortable pace. They should avoid remembering any details, but aim to understand how the story develops. Non-fiction is easier as sub-titles help so much with later navigation.
- Time their reading (but only hurry them if you feel they are trying to remember unnecessary detail) and tell them how long it took. For the full comprehensions it won’t take longer than 6 or 7 minutes.
- Discuss these general issues: What was the purpose of the text? How did the characters feelings change throughout? How is the reader supposed to feel about each character? Relax and have a proper chat.
- Revise parts of speech. The trick is to know words can be used in different ways and that how they are used is key. If it describes the noun it is an adjective etc. Click here for a fab app to sort this.
Repeat this process for two or three papers over a couple of days. Remember that the real exam has a different, layout, with only 24 questions in total in 25 minutes. Our Griffin Teaching mock sessions have reflected this.
Finally discuss strategy. They may change the rules on the day so keep it flexible. Ideally they should go to the back of the paper and work quickly and carefully through the two grammar/spelling exercises spending a maximum of half a minute per question (so 3 mins for 6 questions). Once these are done they can work backwards up the comprehension questions – completing parts of speech questions and synonyms. After all this they will only have about ten questions left to do and the comprehension to read. They will easily have enough time to finish – as they should have 15-17 minutes left and some good marks under their belt.
Make sure these three areas are completely secure. Points 2) and 3) should only take half an hour if you do them together in chat-form.
- Go on the app regularly for speed testing if they are even slightly feeble with them.
- Place value – they must be able to read long numbers and to understand what each place after the point is called.
- Multiplying and dividing by 10, 100 and 1000, by moving the digits each way. We do it in class with a chair as the point and physically being the number and jumping left and right.
If there are any other subjects that your child is worrying about (percentages, algebra etc.) then simply pick a few examples from a handful of exam papers and chat about them. Keep the work light, friendly and reassuring.
If your child is very anxious, or not achieving the scores they need in exam practice, then only tackle exam papers one page at a time. If there are 6 questions on the page your child should decide first which of them he or she can get right. Then if it is only three, time for one minute per question before marking and reassuring. Then go on to the next page and do the same. Deal with the questions they missed out afterwards and stay positive. This technique is invaluable on the day for those of all abilities. The paper mixes easier and more tricky questions throughout, so it is important to be willing to jump over anything tough or simply slow to make sure all great questions are answered first. This will allow your child to squeeze the maximum marks they can from that particular paper.
Repeatedly tell your child that he or she knows enough now. They must not lose a moment’s worry about a tricky question. Just miss it out and move on, gathering the marks they can get with a calm, accurate approach.
Pick out exercises that are a problem from exam papers. Work through them calmly together and be positive and reassuring at all times.
It is vital that VR papers are tackled strategically. There are 4 exercises and two problems in the exam paper. Reading exercises (synonyms etc.) should be done first and codes last (even if your child is brilliant at codes, they are still slower than the others). The tricky problems can be a distraction. They only offer a mark each so probably best to be left until last – or timed for no more than one minute each.
Pick a weaker type from an exam paper. Let your child tackle the exercise themselves first, but then go through it together. There is always a reason for the right answer, so if you are not completely sure of it, then photograph it and send it to one of us for support. Every time you fix a question not understood before, your child will make progress. NVR strength comes with practice, so simply one brief exercise a day would probably be enough to turn a mark around.
Order Stephen Curran’s Workbook 3 on next day delivery. It is all there.
Leave the cube section until last as it is massive and cube nets have not come up before. Do give it a look though and be prepared to cut out nets and draw all over them to help your child. Never say never!