Our Guide on Revision Timetables, Common Problems, and Solutions for the 11 Plus Exams

Once you know the subject/s that your child will be assessed on for their 11+ exam and the time that is available before the big day, it can make it easier to devise a timetable that will provide your child with the best chance of success. 

Here are our top tips for planning your child's studying timetable.

  1. Nature and Learning Style

Some children prefer intensive learning over a short period and others prefer a stress-free environment with a 'little and often' approach, regardless of how long it takes. Many children fit somewhere between the two. Consider what works best for your child and talk with them about to make studying as stress-free as possible.

  1. Time

Ideally, you will have plenty of time before the 11+ exam so your timetable can be based on your child's nature, but if not, don't panic. Even if your child only has the opportunity to work through a couple of test papers, this will offer far more benefit than going into an exam with no knowledge at all.

  1. Activities

The broader the range of activities you can offer your child, the better. If you are trying to build vocabulary skills, think of as many ways as possible to help your child: parrot-fashion learning, word searches, spelling the word while bouncing a ball, using flashcards, defining the term while skipping, testing your child with a quiz or using the name in a conversation. While these might not be your child's normal idea of "fun" learning this way can make the process more enjoyable.

  1. Balance

Creating a timetable with plenty of time for rest, exercise, and hobbies is critical. The reality is that one practice test completed when a child has the energy and a clear head is better than two done under duress. If your child understands there are both study sessions where they have to work, and time when they can relax, it can make it easier for them to see that their 11+ timetable is balanced and achievable.

  1. Logical Progression

It is all about small steps, starting with the most comfortable material and building up in difficulty gradually as your child's confidence and ability grow. Likewise, the process of consolidation is also essential so make sure you build in plenty of time for revisiting knowledge and skills already learned.

  1. The Timetable

Working with your child on this is a good idea as it can help them feel like you are working together in the 11+ process. Place the timetable where your child can easily see what they are doing and when so that they can prepare themselves in advance. Don't forget to remind them in advance so they don't suddenly feel ambushed into studying - especially if they have just started to enjoy some downtime.

Six Week 11+ Revision Plan

This is possibly the easiest method of revising at home. It's is a mix of keeping core skills like vocabulary and mental maths strong, filling in knowledge gaps and some timed work using papers. Here's how it works:

11 Plus revision plan - Week One to Six Inclusive

  1. Core skills are essential, the mistake many families make is to do papers during the revision process. 
  2. What most families find is that as a result, no progress is made and children remain at a level. 
  3. Progress can only be made by doing papers alongside core skills development.

Maths core skills work

  1. One page of mental maths per day (less if done during term time). 
  2. Don't be tempted to up the difficulty level. 
  3. Spend time reviewing work to understand where mistakes have been made and why. 
  4. Don't be frightened of going back and reviewing some basics to help children to develop self-checking skills. 
  5. Remember, the value comes from the review and feedback of the work.

Literacy Core Skills Work

  1. Reading every day independently for at least 30 minutes.
  2. At least two sessions of paired reading.
  3. One page of suggested spelling/ vocabulary book.
  4. Develop a personal vocabulary list week twenty new words and learn how to spell them.

11 Plus Revision Plan Papers- Weeks 1-4

  1. Your child should be doing one full paper in each discipline each week. Any more can be counterproductive.
  2. Remember that feedback is essential, and you may well need to spend time in giving feedback and going over mistakes. The time spent on feedback will define whether your child is making progress or not; they will make no progress just by doing paper after paper and making the same mistakes over and over again.
  3. To help prepare them for the environment of sitting their exam, approach each paper as formally as possible and set a start time, a quiet room, no help, announce halfway, ten minutes to go, five minutes and stop. 

11 Plus Revision Plan Papers- Weeks 5 & 6

  1. During the final two weeks, your child should continue to work on their core skills as above and should continue to do one paper in each discipline as described above. (plus one mock exam exercise.)
  2. The seemingly small things like ensuring your child is as calm as possible, ensuring they have been eating well and drinking well, ensuring they have had enough sleep, ensuring you have helped them build up stamina levels can make all the difference.

Common Problems with 11 + Papers and How to Solve Them

  1. Running out of time.

    Sometimes detailed children spend far too long on the first questions leaving them to rush the end questions. 

    i. Try to help them keep to an even pace by dividing up each paper into five or ten-minute parts so that they keep moving at the right pace.

    Getting bogged down in a particular question.
    ii. Try to identify which questions are causing most problems and work on them outside an exam situation to try to improve technique and speed. 
  2. Lots of little mistakes - Core skills problems

    Often the problem is that some basic knowledge is not strong enough and becomes exposed when placed under time pressure and stress. 

    i. Stress and worry can harm your child's ability to do mental maths and recall vocabulary, anything that can be done to help calm your child, reassure them and give them confidence can help, making them work harder will probably make things worse. 
  3. Technique problems

    Sometimes knowledge won't be secure or will crack under pressure. This could be in any discipline from non-verbal reasoning to maths. As an example, your child may forget or worry about the technique for adding fractions together. 

    i. If you have identified this as a problem, take it outside the revision paper environment, go over the technique and then do ten or so examples to make sure technique improves (you can make these up).
  4. Obvious knowledge gaps

    Children may have obvious knowledge gaps and where they exist, they will be most apparent in numeracy and non-verbal reasoning. Be aware that often the problem may only emerge under time pressure, and this is quite normal, all that is needed is some further work to ensure the skill is more fully embedded and your child is more confident.
  5. Literacy knowledge gaps or problems 

    This is a more complicated area which also spans into verbal reasoning. Children will sometimes struggle with the texts they are given (because they have not read enough of the more complex classic books), or they will struggle with vocabulary. The only way to improve is to keep reading, to keep learning more vocabulary and to recognise that lots of children will make mistakes in these areas.