Parents of year 6 pupils will have been brought back to earth with a bang in September as just after the long holidays and a few days back at school, their children were sitting 11+ exams.
Parents would be bound to wonder if they had done enough work over the summer holidays. Some would feel guilty and some smug. The majority of the state selective exams sit in September and this puts an enormous burden on families. As year 5 children have to plan their preparation schedule to cover the summer holidays and ensure the child sitting exams is properly supported. Some families go away, some don’t. Some prefer to take their holidays at Easter instead. I think if there is slow and steady preparation throughout year 5, then two weeks of a summer holiday away from home is fine - any more, would be crazy as the child would not be sufficiently practiced enough in speed or test work. In the time away from home, work must be done. Parents often do not realise how resilient children are, if you are positive and normalise the preparation, they will do the same.
If you relax for too long, so do they, forgetting a lot of what they have learned and prepared.
If a child is on target then it’s a case of regular daily practice. If they are not, then a holiday isn’t advised. It is unusual for a child to go away for several weeks without working and still do well in exams. They need a consistent approach over the holiday period, so they say on target. Going away early is best in my opinion, because once you come back, your child will have time to mentally prepare for the foredooming intense weeks of exams.
The longer the practice period for exams, the more successful the outcome - I do not believe in last minute cramming. Proper preparation will put you in the smug category, meaning you won’t condemn yourself to a miserable summer holiday.
This also applies to exam candidates sitting in January for independent schools. Many families like to take a holiday over the Christmas period to get away from the cold, even though the Christmas holiday is not as long as the summer one. So, same applies!
A lot of children I know, were happy and charged up enough to sit because they had sat mock tests - both at tutoring and test centres.
Top 10 tips for mock tests
- Always remember a mock test is not final; always be positive. Marks can be improved.
- Do not focus only on feedback provided by the mock test - remember strengths and weaknesses
- Make sure your child is aware of timing and accuracy
- Make sure your child knows they are booked to sit the mock test before the day
- Ensure there are no distractions in the exams room
- Check your child’s ranked results in relation to cohort/relative and others
- Sometime feedback is provided, so focus on all the negative areas
- If given access to the questions, go over the challenging ones
- Book a variety of mock tests for practice
- Make sure you arrive at the venue on time, so your child has enough time to relax before the exam
Exams are exams and they have to be sat, so the rule is to always be prepared!
Until next time,