For children in Year 3 and Year 4
The best way to help children in Year 3 and 4 prepare for the 11 Plus is to ensure they have solid subject knowledge in English and Maths. Alongside this, children of this age should be developing key learning skills, which will ensure academic success in exam conditions. From Year 3 and 4, it is not necessary to practise past papers or have children working beyond their age related expectations
When thinking about early preparation for the 11 Plus, ensuring that children from Year 3 upwards are up to speed in their English and Maths will build a solid foundation. The National Curriculum in English and Maths is a good guide to knowing what children are expected to have learnt by the end of each academic year. Identifying any gaps in children’s knowledge based on the objectives set out in the National Curriculum and working on these will ensure that children are working, as a minimum, at the level expected for their age.
Developing a child’s learning skills is also fundamental when taking the 11 Plus. Whether planning for writing, re-reading a question to understand, or checking their Maths answers, these skills are vital in developing a child’s academic ability, as well as nurturing independence and resilience (qualities that are also useful when tackling exams).
Ways to support children in English writing for the 11 Plus:
The 11 Plus exam will ask students to write a composition under timed conditions. This will likely be a fiction piece of writing so preparation for this part of the exam from Year 3 onwards can include doing the following:
Planning for writing:
Planning for writing is a crucial skill. Supporting planning from Year 3 onwards may include doing the following:
- Give the child a story title and ask them to verbally come up with ideas and/or tell the story verbally.
- Have children make up alternate endings to known stories.
- Ask the child to organise their ideas into a beginning, middle and end.
Being able to spot mistakes and correct them is another skill worth putting in time for early on. While parents may not be able to directly help their child to re-read and edit their writing, having regular discussions with children about why they should do this is useful. Also below is listed some activities that will help children develop their editing skills:
Write a paragraph with deliberate spelling and punctuation errors; have the child see how many they can spot and correct.
- When completing homework or any other writing, encourage children to re-read and check their work until it becomes habit.
- Make a checklist of what children are looking out for when editing (such as capital letters at the beginning of sentences). This can be tailored around what they’re working on at school, or what they need particular help in.
Developing a wide vocabulary:
If children can employ a sophisticated vocabulary in their writing, this will be clear to see and will have instant impact on the assessor. Below are ideas to help develop a child’s vocabulary:
- Ask children to improve their adjectives, adverbs and verbs. This will help develop a wide vocabulary. Instead of using ‘hot’, they could think of alternative synonyms to use, such as ‘boiling’ or ‘tropical’.
- Learn a new word (meaning and spelling) each week.
- Crosswords for children can also be a good way of learning new vocabulary.
Ways to support children in Reading for the 11 Plus:
The reading part of the 11Plus will include a variety of questions assessing inference, vocabulary and retrieval of information. Here are some ways to support children with the reading element of the exam:
- Read regularly.
- Read a wide range of genres.
- Read out loud (for fluency and expression).
- Ask children questions about the text, such as: ‘What has happened?’ and, ‘How do you think this character feels?’
- Discuss and learn unknown vocabulary.
Ways to support children in Maths for the 11 Plus:
The 11 Plus maths paper will cover topics of the four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division), as well as number (fractions, decimals, factors, multiples and prime numbers) geometry, data handling, measurement and possibly algebra.
The best way to support children in Year 3 and 4 with their Maths is to ensure they are able to achieve their year group objectives.
Below are some additional things that will help children of this age gradually work up to the 11 Plus:
- When having to calculate with ever larger numbers, children will be taught to use written methods at school. They will need to employ written methods (such as the bus stop method), as well as mental methods in the 11Plus. Ensure your child understands these methods and can use written methods to check answers.
- Sudoku puzzles are good for developing logic.
- Have children engage with real life maths problems:
- To practise money, they could total up the value of supermarket items.
- They could also talk about shapes of objects, such as a Toblerone, and say how many faces/vertices/edges a shape has.
- To practise data handling, children could also look at train/bus timetables and analyse how frequently a particular train/bus comes.
Tutors for the 11 Plus and Pre-tests
Each year Keystone supports many students preparing for the 11 Plus. The 11 Plus tutors we represent are experienced in the intricacies of the 11 Plus exams and how they differ between schools' assessments. We would normally recommend that preparation begins around 12 – 18 months before the exams.
For more details on how Keystone can help with 11 Plus preparation, please call the office for a chat with one of our client managers, or contact us via our request a tutor form.