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Test Day Preparation & Choosing Resources

When buying any 11+ specific resources always be sure that they clearly state they are intended for the GL 11+ exam. There are many publications on the market, and we recommend that you buy them incrementally as needed. Publishers are constantly changing titles and designs of their materials, and a visit either to a local bookstore or online can be baffling.


There are books on the market that indicate their suitability for children as young as 7 or 8, but we feel that this is too young as your child will see more than enough 11+ material during Year 5 without making the process even longer.


You may have spent many months preparing your child (and yourself!) for the 11+ test, but it’s also good to prepare for the whole test day from the time you wake up to the time they walk out of the test school. Even then the day is not over as you may need to deal with their reaction to the test. Being prepared for the day means you can minimise the stress and make it as positive as possible.

Tiredness may be a fear your child has, particularly as the worry of taking the test might make them find it difficult to sleep the night before. If you make sure your child has good nights’ sleep over the week before the test, and they struggle to sleep the night before, you can assure them that they are reasonably well rested. They are likely to be reasonably alert in the morning and fatigue may not catch up with them until after the test.


Exam Technique for your Child

It’s useful to have a quick refresher just before the test to remember the basics of how to maximise your marks by using a few simple techniques.

  • Leave no answer blank on multiple choice questions. Firstly, try to eliminate wrong answers, and then pick from those you believe most likely. If you feel you haven’t got a clue, pick one letter (lots of people choose ‘C’) and use it consistently for unknown questions.

  • Circle all the answers you are unsure of or have guessed completely. You may have the opportunity to revisit them when you have completed others. You can put a line through this circle if you suspect that amongst other circled questions, you believe it to be especially difficult, and least likely to be successfully worked out.

  • Keep working until the last second.

  • Be certain to only give one answer for each question unless otherwise stated, and to mark the answer sheet exactly as required

  • For any corrections rub out previous answers completely and then fill in the new one. Remember that a computer will mark this exam and will mark anything wrong that it detects with multiple answers for one question where there should be just one.

  • Be realistic regarding which sums/spellings to do mentally and which need a pencil a paper

  • If your last five answers have been ‘A’, and you believe your next answer is also ‘A’, do not be influenced by your previous answers. Go ahead and put A; do not change the others either.

  • Use your finger to check the place that you are writing an answer and be sure not to accidentally miss an answer box.

  • Do not spend long on any question. Short easy questions score just as many points as more difficult ones.

  • Use either the scrap paper or booklet space provided, effectively. Due to Covid-19, scrap paper was not provided for the 2020 exam, instead, space in the question booklet was available for workings.

It is not unlikely that there will be some disturbance during your exam. Perhaps someone can’t stop coughing, scrape their chair regularly, may whisper, or are sick. We have even heard rumours of someone snoring! Whoever is making this noise could be your friend. You must try to ignore all distractions and set aside your feelings. If the distraction is too much, the adult (invigilator), will probably notice it too and make arrangements, if not, you may raise your hand and tell them. For any less serious distraction, where you can keep working but it is an annoyance, you may mention it to this adult at the end of the section or test (whichever is appropriate).


Always remind yourself that you are competing against other candidates, not against the test paper. However easy or difficult you find it, others will find it easy or difficult too. Just do the best that you can do.


Test Day Advice for Children

  • You are likely to be nervous, and although this doesn’t feel nice, it is just your body preparing you to be ready; and is likely to subside once the testing starts.

  • Eat a sensible breakfast, not substantially different from what you would normally have

  • Wear layers of clothes in order to be prepared whatever the temperature in the test room.

  • Never Give Up! This test is designed to be difficult. It is a chance for you to show what you can do.

Make sure to:

  • Go to the loo before the exam and during the break. You will not be given extra time at the end of the test to complete parts missed because you had to go!

  • Use all of the exam techniques that you have learnt.

  • During the break, do not be influenced by what others might say about what they thought of Paper 1

  • Know that this is just one of many opportunities that you will have in life, and that acceptance or not into a grammar school is not an indication of how successful you will be in life.

Test Day Advice for Parents!

  • Ensure that you bring all the necessary paper work for the exam. The exact requirements will be stipulated closer to the test but are likely to include a candidate number and colour (you will have been sent these) and photo ID.

  • Pack a snack with a drink that is not too large

  • Perhaps suggest a banana on the journey to the test centre

  • Check the route to the centre and parking before hand

  • Arrive in plenty of time

  • Discourage your child from bringing a mascot or charm - imagine if it went missing!

Reassure your child and offer them a show of confidence. Let your child know how proud you are of them; they have already achieved, and all their hard work will give them a great start to Year 6!

After the exam show your appreciation of the fact that your child will have worked extremely hard all morning. They are likely to be quite tired, but most will appreciate doing something that they really enjoy in the afternoon.


Try not to bombard your child with questions are the test. What is done is done. The only question that could be of consequence now, is whether there were any disturbances or any other reason that they may not have been able to perform to the best of their ability. If anything has arisen, now would be the time to mention it to the school.


Helpful Links:

  • Visit our resources page for a list of recommended practice materials

  • YoungMinds has a page around exam stress. It is aimed at older students but there may be some information you can use to help your child

  • There are lots of helpful apps that can help with nerves, worry or anxiety. Take a look at Finch, Think Ninja and Clear Fear. Let us know if you have other favourite ones! Remember to check all apps before you download them onto any devices that your child owns.

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