15 Tips for the 11+ Exam Day

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15 Tips for the 11+ and 13+ Exam Day

Below are some of the suggestions given in Chapter Seven of The 11+ and 13+ Handbook by Victoria Barker.
They are intended primarily for children sitting 11+ exams and 13+ pretests, but many will also apply to Common Entrance and the school-set 13+ exams.

  1. Take a watch. Before the exam starts, make sure you know when it is due to end. Make a note of it and remember to check the time during the exam. Do not trust the person running the exam to keep you informed about how long you have left. You must take responsibility for managing your time.
  2. When you have been given the paper, but before you have been told to turn it over, muss up the corners of the pages both at top and bottom, so that the pages do not stick together. This way, you are less likely to turn over two pages together by mistake.
  3. Skim through all the questions, before starting to answer any question, so that you know what is ahead. In particular, check how long it the paper and calculate how long should be devoted to each mark. For example, if the exam is one hour, and the total marks is 100, then you have a little over one minute for every two marks. (A six mark question should take about three minutes, for example.) That will leave a few minutes for checking over your work.
  4. Check carefully through the paper and find where the end of the exam is. Make a mental note of it. This may seem obvious but it is important: there may be questions on the back of the last page, which are easily overlooked.
  5. In a comprehension exam, you are often given time to read through the paper before starting to write. If you finish reading the text, look through the questions, rather than reading the comprehension piece again. Use this time to work out where the answers to the first few questions are in the text.
  6. Read through each question twice before answering it, to make sure you know exactly what is being asked of you. In a maths exam, check that you have read the numbers correctly. In a comprehension exam, check that you know exactly what the question is. Then answer this exact question - not some other question. Before you start writing, think about whether what you are about to write does actually answer the question. This is very important.
  7. Do not let yourself be distracted or swayed in any way by what others around you are doing. Others will have different exam techniques; you need to have confidence in your own. Others will be nervous; that does not mean you should be nervous too. In particular, do not get upset by someone who is upset or crying. Their problem is not yours. Think of yourself as being in a bubble.
  8. If you are genuinely 'stumped' by a particular question in any exam, do not dwell on it, but move on. If you make a mark on the side of the page where the question is, you can easily come back to it when you have finished the other questions.
  9. Write clearly. Make your thinking apparent to the reader. Do not leave it to the reader to try and work out what you mean. State what you mean, clearly. In maths exams, show your working.
  10. Use every moment available to check and recheck your answers. Continue until you are told to put your pens down. Do not give in to the temptation to finish early; there will always be something that can be improved. Others may make it obvious that they have finished early. Do not be influenced by them.
  11. It is certainly best to try to finish the exam. However, some exams are purposefully set to be too long for the majority of children to finish. Work speedily and carefully, without spending too long on any single question. Do not get flustered if you realise that you will not get to the end of the paper.
  12. If you have two questions left, and only time to answer one, the best policy is to try to answer the first half of both of them. For example, in a Maths exam, write down the calculations that you would do, if you had time. In English exam, jot down some notes towards an answer, rather than writing full sentences. It is often easier to get half marks for two questions than full marks for one.
  13. Get a good night's sleep for a couple of nights before the exam. This will make a big difference to your performance and also to your levels of confidence. Make sure you have everything you need to take with you organised well in advance. Make sure that you have a reasonable breakfast on the morning of the exam - even if you do not feel hungry - but not too much heavy food. Wear comfortable clothes. Most importantly, remember to go to the bathroom before you go into the exam room.
  14. If you feel unwell before or during the exam, tell the person running the exam. They may make a note of this and attach it to your paper. Otherwise, tell your parent or guardian immediately after the exam; they can tell the staff.
  15. Remember that a bit of nervousness does not hurt. In fact, it is a good thing: it gets your blood pumping and makes you more alert. Do not be worried about feeling nervous! You will not be the only one who feels this way.


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