11+ Exam Preparation: 7 Last steps to success

Children taking a test.

Ideas and tips for your child’s final 11+ exam preparation

Children taking a test.

It’s a difficult time for those children waiting to sit the 11+ exam in Solihull, Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield. Not only did they have a huge gap in their learning at school but they also had a, “will it/won’t it”, around the exam. Whilst in Warwickshire the exam has been delayed, Birmingham Grammar Schools are still pressing ahead.

What’s really important now though is that you support them in getting their last-minute preparation right. But how exactly do you do that? Here’s how…

Know what you’re revising

11+ exam

Knowing what you’re up against is the best way to prepare for anything in life, and nowhere is this truer than when it comes to exams. Firstly, knowing what the 11+ exam will look like means that there will be no nasty surprises when your child gets into the examination room. Practice makes perfect when it comes and although the questions are never the same, just going through past papers could be the key to unlocking the door to grammar school.

A further tip here is to revise everywhere. If there is something your child struggles with, put a cheat sheet up with the information next to the mirror in the bathroom or even opposite the loo! Even two minutes looking at it each day could make the difference.

Food glorious food!

Brain food

Food is a contentious issue for some children, but lots of fruit and veg contains lots of vitamins and minerals which will help the brain function as well as staving off colds and infections which could affect performance on the day. Fish oils can help brain function, so if you can get these items into your child’s diet could also help with their performance in the all-important 11+ exam. This one may be more difficult than the others, but remember even marginal gains can bring about big results on the big day.

Organisation is key (prioritise the weakest areas)


Knowing what topics or subjects you are tackling and when you are going to do them is a very good way of helping add structure to your child’s revision. Having a mini timetable will give your child a visual representation of when they will be doing their work. A cleverly drafted timetable can give the child an idea that the work is only a tiny part of their day compared to all the other hours, and you can also use it to fill in other fun activities so they have something to aim for if they work well during the revision sessions you’ve got planned.

The most important thing with this is knowing where your child has been struggling and focussing on these areas. Whether your child struggles with non-verbal reasoning, maths or English, focus on these specific parts. You can ask a tutor at Smart 11+ or look online for further information on these sections that might help secure these sections.

You must still ensure that you keep coming back to their strong points though. This serves a dual purpose of acting as a confidence boost for your child with how good they are in this area, as well as keeping these topics fresh and at the front of your child’s brain. If your child has been studying with us at Smart 11+, don’t be afraid to ask any of our tutors about any strong or weak areas. They’ll also be able to suggest techniques to sure up any areas that your child is struggling with, or give your suggestions for making their strong points even stronger.

Regular breaks – a tired brain won’t get us anywhere

Family playing outside

Taking breaks during revision gives the brain a higher chance of remembering what has been crammed in. Try a regular interval like half an hour of revision followed by a 10-minute break. Further to this, if the break can involve a bit of physical activity, this can help get more oxygen to the brain which will help it function more efficiently. You’ll probably know from your own life that taking a break from something you’re working on can often be the way in which you get the best result.

Let’s talk about what we’ve learnt (Positivity!)

Dad and daughter high five

It is so important to remind your child of how much they know. Being positive about the work they’ve done and the effort they are putting in will put them in the mindset for working even harder. A pat on the back can be all the impetus that a child needs to put in that little bit more effort to bump up their final score on exam day.

Another quirk of psychology is the work the brain does when you are asleep. There is research that suggests that sleeping on an issue really works. It can help to talk to your child, briefly and not in a manner that might make them feel anxious, about an area in which they are struggling. Their brain might then try and work out the answer whilst they are asleep. However, the most important thing is that your child gets plenty of sleep. This will allow the brain to recover and grow, which in the end is essential for their future learning.


Sleeping child

As with sleep, it is so important for your child to feel relaxed when going into the exam. This doesn’t mean that no additional work is necessary, but that they are given an opportunity to spend some time doing things that they want to do. This means that when they sit down to do some learning, they will have had an opportunity to rest their brain. The most important thing is that your child doesn’t feel stressed about the examination and whilst practice makes perfect, too much can flip to the point where a child won’t want to engage. It is a delicate balance but we know from speaking to our parents, they know their child better than anyone. Listen to them and focus on helping them reach their potential.

Talk to us

The 11+ exam can feel quite daunting for children and parents alike. At 11+ Smart Tuition, we’re here to help you get the best from your child. Talk to us after your next session, email or call if you have any concerns. Because we only tutor the 11+ exam, we are experts in this field. What we want most is for your child to be successful, as you do too.


Principal Tutor