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Entrance Exams: How to prepare

Preparing for 11+ and Grammar school entrance exams can cause huge amounts of stress for parents and children. Here we look at some of the key considerations when preparing for 11plus and grammar school exams.

When to start preparing for school entrance exams?

This is a difficult question and there is no right answer. Some parents like to leave it until yr5/6 before they prepare for entrance exams as they do not want a long build up for their child. Others want to start early to give their child the best possible opportunity of success in the school entrance exam.

Our advice would be to start with additional learning g outside of the school as part of your routine from yr 3 onwards if possible. This can be as light as ten minutes a day and need no reference to senior school entrance exams or the like. If your child has established a routine of doing just an extra hour a week this will hold them in good stead for ramping it up nearer the time and give you the opportunity to build a picture of where they are. We have many members on our RocketLearn launch (£10/week) programme using us in this way. Do also look below at our earlier blogs as we also have given lots of links to free online questions and games if you’d rather go it alone.

Should I get a tutor for my child’s senior school entrance exam preparation?

Again, like all aspects of parenting, this is personal choice. If you are going down the route of a tutor do make sure of a few things.

1. That the tutor understands and know what the school entrance exam entails for your specific school- be it a grammar school, 11 plus or independent exam (they vary hugely from school to school so if you are spending considerable amounts of money you want to make sure it is on the right thing)

2. That your child likes them! Speaking from personal experience with my own children, that tutor relationship makes all the difference and even if they come highly recommended for preparing children for entrance exams if your child doesn’t like them it won’t work.

3. Understand what you are signing up to. Does the hourly rate include you also having feedback sessions? - if not do ask about this as it is important that you as a parent know how the tutoring is going so that you can support at home or ask school to help. What happens if your child is ill or your plans change? - an important one as if the tutor isn't flexible you could end up wasting hundreds of pounds.

How do I keep the pressure levels right for my child?

Again, difficult! Showing your child around the school and them buying in to the school can help with motivation. The flip side of this being if your child finds the entrance exam for the senior school difficult and doesn’t gain a place they may be very upset. The last thing any parent wants is a child starting their senior school feeling like they are in the wrong place. Treading a fine line with this is difficult, which is why we recommend starting with extra academic support as early as possible so they do not associate that additional learning as being part of senior school entrance exam preparation. This can enable them to get a head start without feeling any pressure.

What resources should I use for my child to prepare for their senior school entrance exam?

Past papers are without a doubt THE best resources out there. There are also some useful Facebook groups where people share tips on the 11 plus and grammar school entrance exam process. Search “Senior School Entrance Exam” and “11plus support” and you will find some great groups set up by tutors. You can also buy books such as Bond and GTP with practice questions. Or you can use online packages like we do with our students on the RocketLearn programme. The advantage of this for us is our teachers can have a picture of progress, identify gaps and address them. Many children also prefer the online packages as they give instant feedback.

We wish your child all the best in their exam- whether it’s 11 plus, grammar school,common entrance, or an individual senior school exam. If you think RocketLearn could help your child please do look at our plans and pricing page. Our launch product is only £10/wk designed to be affordable for many with a light continuous approach to help improve your child’s academic performance. Ultimately, unless you are a teacher yourself, preparing a child for an entrance exam can be difficult - fortunately there are now many resources out there to help. The support of RocketLearn, whereby your child has an academic coach (UK qualified experienced teacher) sending weekly feedback and addressing gaps is a cost-effective way to help your child without expensive tutoring. Sign up today to give us a try - currently only £10/week and cancellation is at any time!

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