When 11+ mock exam results don’t come out as expected, it can be disheartening to say the least. Many parents begin to wonder whether their child should even be trying to get into grammar school. Of course, there will be cases when a poor mock exam result is indicative of a child that would struggle to pass the 11+, but there are plenty of other reasons that a child might score poorly in a mock exam. Every year, we see children that turn their mock results around and go on to score exceptionally well in the real exam. With targeted revision, your child may well be able to do the same.
Work on the areas below to help your child to improve their results for next time.
Go Back to Basics
Your child may have had difficulty in the mock because they haven’t built foundation skills in certain areas. In reasoning, for example, this may mean that they are unfamiliar with a particular question type; in maths, they may be lacking basic arithmetic skills; in English, your child may not have the vocabulary needed to understand a comprehension passage.
Your mock test report will give you an idea of whether your child was struggling with foundation skills (a Kin report will include notes on your child’s working, which will highlight any arithmetic problems). If you find that this is a problem area for your child, scrap the advanced problem-solving questions and focus on straight-forward questions instead. Once your child has mastered the basics, you can begin to look at speed and problem-solving again.
If your child is reluctant to go back to working on simpler questions, explain to them that this is only a temporary way of helping them to get higher scores when they work on more complex material. This openness will not only boost their morale in the short-term, but sharing revision strategies will also help your child to develop the study skills that they’ll need to succeed at secondary school.
Find Plenty of Similar Questions
This is an important one - practice really does make perfect.
Your mock exam report should provide you with information on the types of question that your child struggled with - find as many of these questions as you possibly can. You should also make sure that you show your report to your child’s tutor so that they can do the same. A good tutor will have a library of resources that they can pull from in order to give your child the help they need. Deferring to your tutor will save you a lot of time and energy in finding the materials yourself.
Work on Speed
Although some children are highly accurate in the questions they complete, they can still get a low score because they didn’t finish the paper. If this is the case for your child, start completing papers under timed conditions at home. You should also review exam technique with your child - make sure that they know to mark a question and come back to it if it is swallowing up too much of their time.
If your child had trouble with speed and accuracy, don't try to combat both at the same time. Work first on accuracy; speed can come later.
Don’t Neglect Your Child’s Strengths
It’s easy for children to forget a topic if they don’t review it regularly. Just because your child did well in a topic in the mock, don’t assume that your work there is done. Come back to these areas time and again to ensure they stay fresh in your child’s memory.
Get a Handle on Nerves
Some children’s mock results can be severely impacted by nerves. Fortunately, it usually only takes a couple of mock test experiences for children to overcome their nerves in time for the exam.
If your child suffers from exam nerves, tackling their fears head on is the only way to prepare them for the real 11+. It can be awful to send a child into a mock knowing how nervous they are but they’re tougher than you think - they’ll overcome their anxiety in no time.
To help your future grammar school student to tackle nerves on the day of the mock, make sure you arrive in plenty of time and try not to focus too much on the results afterwards. Emphasise to your child that this is about growing accustomed to the exam experience rather than getting the highest mark.
Leave Your Child to Work Independently
When working in class, children will often ask for help when they don’t truly need it. For many children, asking for help is a reflex response to seeing an unfamiliar question. Give your child plenty of opportunities to work independently and to prove to themselves that they’re capable of tackling difficult questions on their own.
In class, we generally have a rule that children don’t receive help until they’ve attempted a question on their own; try implementing this rule at home. When your child has finished their work, highlight how much they’ve been able to achieve without your help.
Kin Learning provide 11+ mock exams for St. Olave's, Newstead Wood, Bexley and Kent throughout the academic year. We are unique in providing 11+ mock exams that are written for each of the local schools, rather than providing standardised papers.
To aid your child's 11+ preparation, you may also be interested in our 11+ bootcamps for Years 4 and 5.