A strong vocabulary is very advantageous when attempting an English / Verbal Reasoning paper. Completing practice papers alone will not dramatically increase your child’s vocabulary. This must be done by other means such as reading, playing word games, doing vocabulary booster quizzes in COAsT and engaging in challenging conversation.
Word lists created from past papers may help you gauge the overall vocabulary level in 11 pus tests and it is a good idea to learn words from such lists, but do not assume these same words will appear again. Expand your child’s vocabulary as much as possible.
A child should begin a Vocab Book when embarking on their 11 plus preparation. This is a blank book in which they can write any words that they find (at school, in 11+ practice papers, in the book they are currently reading, in any word game) for which they do not know the meaning and then look up their meanings accordingly. To make this exercise useful, these words should be quizzed on a daily or weekly basis. As the list grows it is obviously tricky to quiz them all, but set a target of learning 3-5 new words every day. To aid understanding and help commit the words to memory, your child should make sentences with the words (either written or verbally to you) and you should try to incorporate the words of the week in general conversation as much as possible. The words from previous weeks must also be revisited to embed them in long-term memory.
Types of words that appear frequently in Verbal Reasoning 11 plus exams:
Synonyms – words that have the same (or very similar) meaning.
Antonyms – words that have opposite (or near-opposite) meanings.
Homonyms – words that have the same pronunciation or spelling, but are different in meaning.
Compound Words – words that contain two or more words, such as popcorn [pop + corn].
Groups of words – types of flowers, sports, hats, meats, vegetables, fruits, animals etc.
So whenever your child finds a word to add to their Vocab Book, it is a good idea to see if you can think of a synonym or antonym of that word, whether it belongs to any clear group and whether it is a homonym or compound word.
Learning new words is generally more fun if done in small batches. So make use of any spare 5 minutes (driving to school, waiting for a TV program to begin, while making breakfast) to do a quick word challenge and work on 3-5 words.
The following resources are very handy for making the task of increasing vocabulary FUN.
Chuckra 11+ Playing Cards (3-pack) – the alphaCards and voCards are both packed with vocabulary games.
- Spelling & Vocabulary Book Sets
Improve Mental Arithmetic and basic mathematical concepts
This is one of the areas in which a child can improve dramatically, even in a relatively short space of time. Verbal Reasoning exams incorporate questions that require basic arithmetic. If your child can complete these questions quickly and accurately, it means there will be more time available for any other tricky questions on the paper.
Keys to success:
Learn Times Tables 1x to 13x
Understand the relationship between multiplication and division.
Practise all four operations (multiply, divide, add, subtract) DAILY.
Identify types of sums that catch your child regularly and go through the basics of the calculation with them.
The following resources are a great aid in this task:
- Free Daily Maths Worksheets
- Maths Worksheets Pack 1 – included in Core Skills Booster Worksheets
- numCards – part of the Chuckra 11+ Playing Cards (3-pack)
- Arithmetic Games on QuestionmiX.com
Enhance Memory and Processing Speed
There is an endless list of games and activities that one can play to enhance memory and improve processing speed.
Thinking quickly and holding data in short term memory while processing it is a very necessary skill for success in many exams – not only the 11 plus exams.
One of the biggest challenges in all of the eleven plus exams is completing the test in the time allowed. So playing games with time limits is a great way to help your child get comfortable with being under time pressure and still being able to think clearly.
The popular Chuckra 11 Plus Playing Cards (alphaCards, voCards & numCards) were created with all of these tasks in mind. They are used by many tutors across the country to make lessons fun, but at the same time boost vocabulary, improve mental arithmetic and exercise the brain.
Another great source of fun is the Brain Games section on QuestionmiX.com
The game, spotTheGroup, is of course great for Non-verbal Reasoning, but it’s also a great mental workout for general brain boosting.
We will endeavour to add more game ideas whenever we get a chance, but I’m sure you have plenty of ideas too.