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Year 5: 11+ Exam Preparation Tips, Resources and The Complete Guide

11 Plus English Past Papers with Detailed Answers

If your child is about to sit for the 11+ examination, then you know it's a big strain on them. One of the big problems that children face when preparing for the exam is stress. One way to help your child with their stress is to prepare them as early as possible. If your child is about to sit for the 11+, then this article will share some helpful information on what to do and what to expect before they appear for the exam.

The 11+ Exam – What it is?

The 11+ is a test that is taken by UK children in year 5 to determine how well they can understand and use mathematics, English, science, and manual skills. To prepare your child for the 11+ exam, you must first find out what it entails. There are two types of 11+ exams, which are the core 11+ and the extended. The core 11+ is taken by approximately 92% of children, while the extended 11+ is taken by approximately 8% of children.

The results of the 11+ Exam are used as entry-level qualifications by a majority of grammar schools in the UK. It is thus a very important examination for your child to undertake.

What Year 5 has in Store for Your Child

Year 5 is a big year for your child. It's one year before when they will be taking their 11+ exam. As a parent, it's important to prepare your child for the exam with the help of some tools, such as mock exams, practice papers, and revision guides. As a parent, you should also learn about the structure of the exam and what your child will be expected to know.

Remember that year 5 will also place a pretty heavy burden on your child in terms of regular school work. Therefore, you need to be able to balance school work – and homework from school – with preparation for the 11+ Exam.

How to Prepare Your Child for the 11+ Exam in Year 5

In Year 5 we presume that you have already worked on your child’s core skills. Following are some of the core skills your child should have developed by Year 5, and some additional skills they will need to progress towards tackling the 11+ Exam in Year 6:

Times Tables

If you notice us repeating that times tables are important for the 11+ exam, it’s because they are. They are more than important, they are essential! Your child will be able to solve maths problems at a much faster rate than if they don’t know the times tables. In an exam such as the 11+, time and accuracy are of the essence and if your child is weak in the times tables, they will lose out on both.

If you haven’t prepared your child with the times tables, do so now! Time is running out in Year 5. Do not be tempted to race ahead with other preparation. Have your child know the times tables by rote before you give them anything more to do in preparation.

The Reading Habit

By Year 5, your child MUST have gotten into the reading habit. It is the most important way to increase  11+ vocabulary and learn to express oneself. Your child should be reading every day, whether with traditional paper books or online or in downloaded form – PDF, Kindle, etc. Your child will automatically seek to increase the complexity of its reading material as it reads more and more. Thus, your child will expand its vocabulary organically. This will also have a major impact on the way your child expresses himself or herself.

Reciting and Speaking

In addition to reading, your child should also have been given opportunities to recite and speak. This will hone the child’s ability to express themselves in interviews and essays and opinion pieces.

Testing with 11+ Exam past papers and sample papers

Year 5 is when you can begin to test your child using 11 plus past papers and sample papers. While the 11+ Exam is always a fresh challenge every year, solving past papers and sample papers gives your child the opportunity to absorb the style of questions organically. Use the tests to determine which areas or topics your child needs to work on, and consider appointing a tutor if those topics are outside your area of expertise.

Start to work on 11+ reasoning tests

Up until Year 5, you shouldn't try to work with your child on reasoning skills. Year 5 is when you can begin to work on these skills; both, mathematical reasoning and verbal reasoning.

There are plenty of resources available online – some free of charge, some requiring payment – that will help you prepare your child for the reasoning skills parts of the 11+ Exam.

How to Choose the Best 11+ Books for Your Year 5 Child

How-To Books

You will first need “How To” books in the following areas:

  • Mathematical Reasoning
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • English Comprehension
  • Essay Writing / Story Writing

The above books are an excellent way to help your child prepare for the 11+ Exam.

Dictionary and Thesaurus

Next, if you haven’t already, you will need to purchase a Dictionary and Thesaurus. These are invaluable resources in helping your child understand and use words within their contexts. This will help them grasp the questions in the exam and answer long-form questions with relative ease.

Practice Workbooks and CDs

The more your child practices – within reason, of course – the better it will be prepared to tackle the 11+ exam. Practice Workbooks and CDs are available online and offline to achieve just this. A simple search will help you find these valuable resources.

Textbooks

Before your child can even practice, it needs input. Textbooks are essential to prepare your child since he needs to learn the topics and techniques of a particular subject.  While there are no particular textbooks recommended for the 11+ Exam, there are several subject handbooks that can be used to prepare your child on various topics in the respective subjects for the 11plus exam. The main subjects from which a syllabus can be derived are English and Maths.

In general, the English syllabus covers the following topics:

  • Prefixes and Suffixes
  • Commonly used Figures of Speech
  • Adverbs and Adjectives
  • Subordinate Clauses
  • Time Connectives, etc.

The Maths syllabus covers the following:

  • Geometric functions such as area, circumference, diameter, radius, angles, etc.
  • Factors
  • Times Tables
  • Squares and square roots
  • Long division
  • Prime numbers, etc.

How to Know Your Child is Prepared for the 11+ Exam

The best way to check if your child is prepared for the 11+ Exam is through the administration of mock exams. There are past papers going back several years available on the internet, some for free, others on payment of a nominal amount. You can use these papers to create a mock test for your child. Administer the test and then check your child’s performance. This will give you a fairly accurate picture of how prepared your child is for the 11+ Exam.

Avoid using past papers and sample papers as input material. While some websites do give you solutions to the papers, they should not be used as textbooks or handbooks. Instead, use them to evaluate your child’s performance after they undergo the mock test. This will tell you in which topics they need further input and/or practice.

In conducting the mock test, treat it just as if it were an actual 11+ test. Set time aside for it, give your child a couple of days to revise and prepare, and let friends, family, and your child’s friends know that he or she will be unavailable for the duration of the mock test. Administer the test itself very strictly. Start a timer at the beginning of the test, give a warning bell or beep five minutes before the end of the test and take away the answer sheets when the final bell or beep goes off. This will help your child pace itself for the exam. Don’t let your child feel bad if it is unable to pace itself in the first few mock tests. One of the purposes of the 11+ mock tests is to help your child divide the exam time into sections to be tackled and revised at the end. Over a period of time and as your child takes more tests, you will find that they are better able to pace themselves. Accuracy will also improve, as children tend to rush through mock tests in the beginning and then learn to pace themselves as they attempt more tests.

Conclusion

Year 5 is when you need to ramp up the preparation for the 11+ Exam. This year, you will need to start preparing your child for the reasoning tests, provided he has prepared the basics – times tables, reading, and comprehension – in previous years. If not, first concentrate on those core skills. Avoid the temptation to race ahead, no matter how urgent the preparation may seem. If the core skills are not in place, no amount of study and practice will help your child.

Use online and offline resources to consolidate your child’s skills in Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Reasoning – verbal and non-verbal – and your child will be well on its way to getting ready for the 11+ Exams.

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