Are you ready? The 11+ Countdown: 7 months to go (the confidence post)

Wow! That month went quickly, didn’t it?


With just seven months to go until the assessments, our focus needs to turn to confidence.


Yes, exam success is about learning the material, and about practising the material but the one thing that separates the super-high-achievers from other children with identical IQ and CAT scores is confidence.


Looking back at my own big exams (and my GCSEs in particular) the thing that I had in abundance was confidence. I knew that I was going to ace those exams, before I’d even seen the year’s material. Why? Because I had a system. Even as a slightly unpleasant teenager I KNEW that I had to be aware of the parameters (I also discovered the word ‘parameters’ in about Year 10 and overused it at every opportunity). If I could see those parameters clearly in my mind, I would be able to fill in the space between them with the knowledge I needed. In other words, if I knew what could and could not appear on the exam paper, I could do the rest.


It is exactly the same for your own children, preparing for the 10+ and 11+ assessments. I’ve come to believe that we make an incredible mistake when we try to shield the realities of the exams from children and that, actually, clarity (even if this seems daunting at the time) is a far better strategy and ultimately boosts confidence.


When a 10 year old asks me specific questions about the exams (and they always do!) I respond with a detailed and accurate answer. I make a conscious effort to avoid saying, “Oh, don’t worry about that… It’ll be fine”. Why do I avoid this like the plague? It’s because 10 year olds DO worry and they worry a lot. They also know that just because you’re an adult, you don’t necessarily know if everything will be fine or not. They WANT to know exactly what the exams will be like, so that THEY can decide if they’re going to be ‘fine’ or not.


So, to help your child understand the parameters of their exams, and help them to feel that they are truly able to complete those exams, I recommend the two following activities:


1. Sit down with your child and have a very open discussion about the realities of the exam. I recommend that, at a minimum, you discuss the following:

  • Which subjects will be assessed in the exams

  • How many schools you’re considering applying to, and what those are

  • Pre-tests

  • Interviews


2.  You and your child create a tracking system together. This is where you write down every last thing that could be on an 11+ paper, and then you work through the items one at a time. Start by ticking off all of the things that your child feels confident doing. What you’re left with is a simple guide of exactly what needs to be done between now and December. Far from being de-motivating, these activities have always (eventually) led to a sense of ownership and progress that greatly boosts confidence. Children know what needs to be done and they know that it’s not impossible. Rather than having worrying half-formed notions of the exams, it’s all clearly out there.


I have created three trackers for you and placed them in The Classroom. If you’ve already signed up then simply use the link and password in the welcome email you received. If you haven’t (it’s entirely free!) then you can do so by clicking the link <<<here>>>.


I hope you’re all having a great term and feeling confident about the assessments!

Aisha x