Exam preparation advice

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With 7+, 11+ and 13+ assessments coming up in January 2022, we turn to Simply Learning Tuition for their exam preparation advice ahead of the Christmas break.

Tis’ the season for entrance exam preparation! With entrance exams looming and the countdown to Christmas to contend with, exams for a school move can be an apprehensive time. Precisely what is assessed in each exam varies by age and school, although all evaluate your child’s critical English and Mathematics skills. Most Prep schools are well-oiled machines for preparing children for entrance exams, but consolidation time at home never loses its value. To help, we’ve collated some universal tips and exam preparation advice for children aged 6 to 13.


First and foremost, reinforce that exams are an opportunity for your child to show off their knowledge and have no negative implications attached to their results. Children tend to underperform under pressure, so feeling relaxed but determined will set them up for success. You may have a specific school in mind but remember to have a “plan B” that you are happy for your child to attend.


Create a quiet and dedicated area to work, away from any household chaos. Somewhere where children can come to, ready to focus, and leave behind once they are finished, even if this is simply a dedicated desk. If your child can independently complete homework, or you feel they need some specific time to work on exam-style questions, creating a timetable helps make this study time tangible and manageable. With sports, extracurricular activities, and social events, children’s weeks can be hectic, building a timetable that includes all your child’s regular activities, plus any homework or preparation time, can make fitting everything in less stressful for you and expectations clear to them.

Task Over Time

Keep the focus on getting through material during your timetabled study time. The quality and engagement level of the learning experience is more important than the time spent. It is easy to feel relaxed when your child sits at their desk ‘working’ but are they getting through their work? Is the material sticking in their brain? An essential skill in examinations is getting through each question and moving on. Starting with short, sharp, fun activities is an excellent way to instil this before completing homework or exam questions in timed conditions.


Read daily and include a wide variety of books covering different themes, fantasies, and life lessons. Children can learn a lot from the way adults read, so alternate between you and them reading. Discuss the book with your child, the narrative, characters, and themes. Make sure you answer their questions and ask them specific questions that will test their understanding. Finally, get them to identify any words they don’t understand and begin to form a personal vocabulary list that you can build on.


Practising creative writing skills with your child can be enjoyable, especially with an imaginative focus, like Christmas. Give them a picture of a character or a place and get them to write a description; if they are struggling, you can help them plan their answer. Just planning the beginning, middle, or end of a story helps with composition. Don’t forget to pay attention to grammar; always encouraging them to re-read their work is a vital exam skill. Create a colourful checklist at home for things to remember in their written work, such as specific punctuation or capital letters for proper nouns.


Children should be confident with their whole accumulated maths syllabus. Topics such as addition and subtraction are repeated year on year but become more advanced as your child gets older. In addition, entrance exams require them to have the ability to complete mental arithmetic as well as written problems. Practising mathematics with everyday routines and examples helps consolidate learning, from times tables in the car to calculations with money when shopping. There are also hundreds of free online maths games and puzzles during some screen time.

Revision Techniques

There are four types of learners; visual, kinaesthetic, auditory and those that learn through reading and writing. Using a combination of learning techniques helps consolidate the material. For example, creating mind maps and flashcards with added colour are great visual aids and involve reading and writing in the construction. When it comes to spelling, the best technique is to look, learn and test! The learning process should include writing each word at least three times.

Past papers

Working through past papers is the best form of exam preparation. It allows your child to familiarise themselves with exam formats and questions. You can start by assisting your child through the questions, building confidence, and allowing them to learn from their mistakes. Moving onto sitting past papers, or specific questions, under timed conditions builds on the task over time technique. You can find past papers online or by searching for a specimen paper on school websites.

Interview preparation

Some schools interview as part of their assessment; try not to worry about this. Start by getting your child used to talking about themselves, their interests, and the subjects they enjoy. The classic topical conversations over the dinner table should help any age group prepare for more obscure questions. Prepare your child to meet someone new, with the necessary pleasantries and listening skills.

As entrance examinations approach, the best thing you can do for your child is make them feel confident and capable of achieving the best result they can. This is done by reassuring them, boosting them up, and inspiring them to continue learning and engaging with their academic work. It shouldn’t be a chore but a challenge and an opportunity to bond with your child as they develop.

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