1) Weak core skills in maths, English, verbal and non-verbal reasoning
Students need very strong core skills to do well in 11 plus tests. In Mathematics, for example, arithmetic skills must be top-notch. It’s easy to lose marks making silly mistakes adding things up incorrectly or not remembering your times tables. For English/verbal reasoning, an extensive vocabulary as well as good knowledge of grammar and spelling is essential. In non-verbal reasoning students who have been exposed to a wide variety of different questions will have an advantage because they will know the types of things that examiners like to include in NVR questions. Luckily, core skills are easy to improve with some dedication.
2) A misunderstanding with specific question types
Read the instructions for each section. Don’t assume you know what the question is asking you to do without reading the instructions! Different question types can look very similar.
3) The need to improve speed when answering questions
An average student might be just as capable of answering a question as a top student, but considerably slower at doing so. There are lots of questions to do in a relatively short time, so students who are faster at completing questions will likely perform better.
4) Exam nerves from the exam environment or parental pressure
Some students actually find exams fun and can’t wait to get in the exam room. Most, however, have a certain level of anxiety. This is why we recommend doing multiple mock tests. After the first one, the exam environment becomes more familiar and less stressful. When the real test day comes, the student will be more relaxed and able to focus on the paper and not their surroundings.
We all want the best for our children, but remember 11plus students are young. The exam is likely to be the most important test they have taken to date. Therefore, as parents, you need to also think about your attitude towards 11 plus preparation. Don’t leave it to the student – get involved with their preparation. Be supportive and encourage them, but be careful not to be overly pushy or critical if they aren’t scoring as highly as you expected.
5) Bad exam technique
Examples of bad exam technique can be
- not filling in the multiple choice answer sheets correctly (see videos below)
- doing their working out on the answer sheets and not on the question paper or blank paper provided
- poor time management
- failing to take a guess on questions they didn’t have time to complete.
Have you already reviewed the test questions from the mock exams together online?
If not yet, the student can retry the questions they got wrong or missed out before you review them together, so you can see whether they do actually know how to answer those questions if given more time to do so. They can do this by logging in to their student account, going to My 11 Plus and clicking the ‘Retry Question’ button on the student dashboard.
With 11 Plus Premium, you can assign past mock tests to your student to complete at home. This can really help you to identify whether the student is struggling with the content of the tests in any way, struggling to complete the questions fast enough, or struggling with exam nerves and pressure in an exam environment. If they are struggling with the content of the tests, you need to ascertain whether it is an issue of not understanding the specific question type or actually the core skills (vocabulary, basic maths skills etc.) required to answer the questions.
If exhaustion/stress is a likely contributor then it is important to allow relaxation time and ease any pressure to do preparation for a few days or a week and when you start up again, try a short timed test or even just using Question Mix to get started with mixed practice questions. You know your child and their energy levels throughout the day, so adapt the preparation to suit them.