This is peak anxiety time for parents of children approaching Year 6. The Kent Test 11+ is on 9 September this year. Strangely, in the summer break, we find ourselves in a rather isolated bubble, where school is over and the sun is out, yet it is peak revision time. And unfortunately those who let their studies drop over the summer are likely to under-perform on the day.

If you believe the parent chatter, then everyone else’s children seem to be working much harder than yours and are more on-track. I’m embarrassed to say that it got to me too when my three children were taking the exam.

So let me reassure you. A gentle, balanced programme is all that’s needed. We set out an alternating plan, expecting 4-to-5 sessions a week done first thing in the morning (and absolutely not when you are on holiday – this should be kept completely free). The first day is maths and non-verbal/spatial and the second is English and verbal. Keep this up from Monday to Thursday or Friday and have the weekends completely free.

Days 1 and 3

  • 25 minutes maths

The best resource for this is half a GL Maths Practice Paper. The first halves (Q1 to 25) are easier than the second halves (Q26 to 50) so work through all the firsts before the seconds.

If you need to build accuracy and attention to detail, then mark page by page. Otherwise take it away at the end of the session and don’t be tempted to mark it with them. This is where time runs away with you and stress starts to build. Mark it alone and then manage the feedback next time. Go for themes: “You did really well on accuracy this time,” or “hooray you’ve cracked shape and measure.” Avoid just giving a score and watching their face.

  • 5 minutes non-verbal or spatial reasoning

Use Bond Online for this (not the books) as each subject is themed. Pick a type and try out the ten questions in the set. It will take about 5 minutes and any errors are explained there and then. You can squeeze a second go at the same exercise if in time, to consolidate the skill.

Days 2 and 4

  • 25 minutes English

The GL English Practice Papers are great but the wrong length for the Kent Test. Separate them and just do the comprehension (or just the grammar exercise). Discuss all the details as doing them aloud is just as useful as sitting your child in a corner with a pencil.

  • 5 minutes verbal reasoning

Use Bond Online again for this (not the books). I like it because it tests children in themes. Mixed 10-minute-tests knock confidence as you flit about from good questions to unknowns – a recipe for plummeting self-esteem.

If you follow this programme your child will feel confident and you will feel in control. I’m around over the summer if you need anything further and we have a fantastic set of mock exams and strategy sessions running in Kings Hill, Goudhurst and Sevenoaks.