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Key Strategies For Success in 11+ Comprehension

March 4, 2024

The 11+ examination is a pivotal moment in the educational journey of children in the United Kingdom, serving as a gateway to selective secondary schools. Success in this exam can set the stage for future academic opportunities, making preparation a top priority for students and their families.

Herein, we explore effective strategies to excel in the 11+ examination, focusing on the core areas of English, Maths, Verbal Reasoning, and Non-Verbal Reasoning.

Understand the Exam Format

The first step towards success is understanding the structure and content of the 11+ exam. It varies by region and school, with some focusing more on Maths and English, while others include Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning.

Familiarising yourself with the specific format and subjects tested by your target schools is crucial. This knowledge will guide your preparation, allowing you to focus your efforts on the relevant areas.

Strategies For Success in 11+ Comprehension

Develop a Structured Study Plan

A well-structured study plan is essential for covering all necessary topics efficiently. Break down the syllabus into manageable segments and allocate time for each subject according to your strengths and weaknesses.

Incorporate regular review sessions to reinforce learning and identify areas needing further attention. A consistent, disciplined approach to study will ensure comprehensive coverage of the material.

Enhance Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension Skills

A strong vocabulary and excellent reading comprehension skills are crucial for success in the English component and Verbal Reasoning section of the 11+ exam.

Encourage daily reading of a wide range of literature, including novels, newspapers, and poetry, to expose the student to diverse language uses and styles. Engaging in vocabulary-building activities, such as learning new words daily and using them in sentences, can significantly enhance linguistic skills.

Master Maths Fundamentals

Proficiency in Maths is vital for the 11+ examination. Focus on mastering the fundamentals, including arithmetic, fractions, decimals, percentages, and problem-solving strategies.

Practice is key; working through past exam papers and sample questions can help familiarise students with the types of problems they will encounter and improve their speed and accuracy.

Strategies For Success in 11+ Comprehension

Develop Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning Skills

Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning tests assess a child's ability to think logically and solve problems using language-based and visual information, respectively. These skills can be improved through targeted practice.

For Verbal Reasoning, exercises that involve solving analogies, codes, and sequences are beneficial. For Non-Verbal Reasoning, practice with pattern recognition, sequences, and similarities will be helpful.

Many resources are available, including workbooks and online tools designed to enhance these reasoning skills.

Practice Under Exam Conditions

Simulating exam conditions can help students become accustomed to the pressure and time constraints of the 11+ examination. Regularly timed practice sessions should be incorporated into the study plan.

This practice will not only improve time management skills but also help students develop strategies for dealing with exam stress, such as learning to move on from questions they find challenging and returning to them if time allows.

Seek Feedback and Support

Regular feedback on performance is invaluable for identifying weaknesses and tracking progress. This feedback can come from teachers, tutors, or through self-assessment using answer keys for practice materials.

Don’t hesitate to seek clarification on difficult topics or to explore different problem-solving approaches. Support from parents, guardians, and educators can also provide motivation and encouragement, which are essential for maintaining a positive outlook throughout the preparation process.

Encourage a Balanced Approach

Encourage a Balanced Approach

While academic preparation is crucial, it is also important to maintain a balanced approach to ensure the student's well-being. Adequate rest, physical activity, and time for relaxation and hobbies are essential.

These activities can reduce stress, improve focus, and enhance overall performance. Encouraging a healthy lifestyle, including a nutritious diet and regular exercise, can also contribute positively to exam preparation.

Utilise Available Resources

A plethora of resources is available for 11+ exam preparation, including textbooks, online platforms, and tutoring services. Selecting the right materials and possibly engaging a tutor can provide tailored support and guidance.

Tutors can offer personalised feedback, introduce effective problem-solving strategies, and help maintain a structured study schedule.

Foster Confidence and Resilience

Building confidence and resilience is crucial for exam success. Encourage a positive mindset, reminding the student that preparation and effort are key to overcoming challenges.

Celebrate achievements, no matter how small, to build confidence. Teach them that setbacks are part of the learning process, providing valuable opportunities for growth.


Succeeding in the 11+ examination requires a combination of focused preparation, a balanced lifestyle, and emotional support. Understanding the exam format, developing a structured study plan, and enhancing subject-specific skills are foundational steps.

Simulating exam conditions, seeking feedback, and utilising available resources can further bolster a student's readiness.Above all, fostering confidence, resilience, and a positive approach to learning will equip students with the tools they need not just to excel in the 11+ exam but to thrive in their future academic endeavours.

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