We know that some children become anxious when they are faced by being tested. Preparation and practice will help to build your child’s confidence.
Children should also do better when they practice and understand the skills and strategies needed to take tests.
• Go over the directions and the sample exercises with your child. The more careful and painstaking you are, the more likely that your child will apply these same skills in the examination. On the day of the examination you want your child to read every word in the instruction sections. So practice what you preach! Don’t rush it!
• Reassure your child that the practice tests are not the real tests. One of the definitions of practice is that practice means to acquire or polish a skill. If your child is learning a new skill then he or she will need your support. If you are polishing a skill then you are trying to help your child get ready for the actual examination – and you certainly don’t want any stress then! So no stress in your communication during polishing sessions.
• It is essential that you go over the answers together. You want to be able to discuss any improvements as well as problems. If you only focus on areas of difficulty it is hard to be able to comment when actual progress is made.
• Your child must feel that you are enjoying working together. There is no problem with not knowing an answer or how to approach an unfamiliar topic. What you definitely want to avoid is the, `I told you so!’ or, `We have done this – so why can’t you remember?’
• What you are trying to achieve are conditions that are as similar as possible to those your child will meet on the day of the examination. You want your child to achieve his or her full potential. The examination room will be quiet and earnest. Your work with your child should be the same.
• A key goal is helping your child to feel that he or she can approach a wide variety of questions - and cope. Naturally you also want your child to use time wisely.
• Remind your child that for some answers he or she will have to try to organise the facts and information given in the question – in order to be able to come up with a solution. Reading and re-reading the question should help.
• Explain too about `gut instinct’. This is when you know the answer – but you are not sure. You could still be wrong – but one answer must be right. Just go for it!
• Talk too about an `inference’. This is when you are not told the answer directly – but the question has pointed you in the right direction. You want to help your child to be able to make judgments and generalisations.
• Finally you want to be able to distinguish between fact and opinion. Explain that an opinion will state a point of view – and you often find descriptive words in opinions. The Eleven Plus is an examination. The Eleven Plus is a hard examination. There is a difference!