It’s very easy to let the 11+ exams loom over the Christmas holidays like the Day of Doom.  Here’s what I suggest to my students at this time of year after they break up.

Have a restPlease, please, please put the practice papers away until after Christmas. Everyone is exhausted, it’s dark all the time and Christmas is coming! Your child has worked hard so they deserve a break and time to relax.

Relax. Let them watch TV, play with their friends, sleep in, but above all have a break from exam preparation and interview practice.

Practise meditation or yoga. A daily mindfulness practice using the Headspace of Insight Timer app can dramatically reduce stress levels and improve mood. Yours and theirs!

Let your child continue reading but put those pens down! Remember that it’s important for your child to read widely but also to read books that they really enjoy. And not to have to write about them.

Do exam practice AFTER Christmas.  Once the celebrations are over and everyone has emerged from their Christmas-induced coma, then let your child do a couple of timed 11+ English papers. But no more than three!  Beware of the law of diminishing returns. The children who slog away daily at practice papers in the run up to exams tend not to do their best in the actual exams.

After Christmas, go through their marked answers to past papers.  Have a look for the common mistakes that they keep making. Do they keep repeating a punctuation error, forget to change paragraphs when it’s a new speaker talking, or not add enough description to the setting in the story?  Are there certain types of comprehension question that trip them up?  Get them to flag these questions before they attempt any timed practice.

The first week of term. For most children the 11+ exams will take place towards the end of the first week of the spring term.  Make sure they remember which exams they are sitting and when, and what the format of the exam will be that day.

Have a lovely outing or holiday planned for February half term. Whatever the outcome of the 11+ admissions process, life goes on. It’s really important for your child to have something to look forward to at the end of this gruelling time. And for you too!

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TOP TIPS FOR 11+ READING COMPREHENSION