Exam Technique Tips for the 11+ Maths

Eleven-Plus Preparation Specialists

When sitting the 11+, preparation is half the battle – the other half is how you – or your child – can perform in the exam itself. Let’s look at some top tips for exam success. Remember, these tips will be just as applicable for other sections of the 11+ as well.

Multiple Choice

You may well not be used to taking on multiple-choice style questions. Many schools don’t use them regularly in their homework assignments or during lessons, whilst the majority of the 11+ tests do now use a multiple choice format. The format theoretically allows for a far greater ease of marking – there’s no chance of a number being misread, for example, so schools naturally are gravitating to this system. However, if you’re used to writing out answers you may make a mistake with the format. Make sure to check whether you are expected to mark a tick or a cross, or alternatively, whether you need to circle a shape or fill in a small circle. Remember that the multiple choice answer sheet will typically be on a separate sheet of paper – so marking your answers on the question book won’t get you any marks – you need to fill in the answer sheet itself! A few practice sessions should see this become second nature.

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Unfamiliar Question Types

Almost all exams will throw up some form of question that you will not understand at first. Often, new types of symbols are introduced that have been purposefully created for the exam. Think something along the lines of ‘the Zod people have a special symbol, §, which means multiply by 3 and remove the previous number.’ Here, you’ll need to carefully follow through the example provided and then learn quickly from it in order to gain the marks. Remember that all other children sitting the paper will be as confused by the question as you – so don’t panic, and stay focused! These questions are often more straightforward than they at first appear – you simply need to work through in a calm and logical way.

Always Check your Answers

Many pupils either forget to check their answers, or simply don’t want to! However, checking your answers will invariably gain you one or two extra points. Of course, there’s a good chance that you may struggle to get through the questions in time – in which case, focus on getting through the questions at a good pace and don’t rush just to try and secure some ‘checking time’ at the end of the test. If you do have the time to check answers, then try to have a list of questions that you think are worth looking back over. That might be because you felt that you had to rush them, because you feel that you made a silly mistake, or simply because you found them difficult. Remember, the key is to pick up a few extra marks – that means noticing silly errors, noticing clear miscalculations that you made during your working out, etc. Don’t spend all your checking time on a question that you found impossibly challenging and doubt that you will be able to find the answer for, no matter how hard you try!

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Work on Timing

The 11+ is designed to be very time-intensive. In fact, if you can finish sections comfortably within the time then the chances are that you’re in a strong position. Many pupils will find themselves rushing, or panicking as the test progresses. There are two obvious ways to avoid timing problems. The first is to prepare. Practice using the timings, and ensure that you keep to them religiously. That could mean getting one of your parents to give you the paper at a certain time, then stopping you from working at the time that the test is up. Keep practising in this manner – as well as doing general practise questions – to ensure that timing becomes second-nature. The second key is to realise questions that deserve time, and those that are wasting your time. If you simply do not understand a topic, don’t agonise over it and waste precious minutes – come back to it at the end if you have time and have checked the rest of your answers, and instead focus on picking up the easier marks from the topics that you do understand.
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