11+ exam success – 7 things to do this summer

Girl relaxing on a grass lawn


Whether you’re feeling pretty confident about the 11+ exams in the autumn, or panicking that your child isn’t ready for them yet, the summer holidays are a great opportunity to assess where your child is in their 11+ journey. 

Taking stock of their progress now allows you to take the right practical steps to ensure your child has the best possible chance of success in the exams.

Here’s our round up of things that you can do this summer to help prepare your child for the 11+:

1. Find out exactly what they need to revise.
Whether you’ve been following a formal 11+ revision schedule for some time, or are planning to use the summer holidays to focus on 11+ skills specifically, the start of the summer holidays is the perfect time to take stock of where your child is right now and what their strengths and weaknesses are.
Remember, there’s little value in continuing to work on all four 11+ subjects equally if, for example, your child is strong in English, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning, but still weak in maths. Use our free placement test (log in or register to access) to assess where your child’s strengths and weaknesses lie, and use this information to tailor your revision this summer.

2. Create a summer revision schedule.
Either work with your child to make your own, or download our free 11+ revision planner (log in or register to access). Put it up somewhere visible and praise your child for every day of revision completed – don’t forget to include days off!

3. Read our Parents’ Guide.
Packed with detailed advice and support, the Bond Parents’ Guide to the 11+ will help you to develop a learning plan for your child, prepare them for exam day and help you deal with the post-exam process.

4. Develop exam technique.
With only a few months to go, now is the time to develop your child’s exam technique.
The key things to focus on are:

  • CEM vs GL exam technique
    – the two major 11+ exam boards demand different things of your child, read about the differences in our ‘11+ exam boards: CEM vs GL – what’s the difference?’ blog.
  • Timed exam practice
    regular mock exams should now be a key feature of your child’s 11+ preparation. Children must get used to working in silence to a strict time limit. If they’re still having trouble working at speed, do some timed general practice. A kitchen timer can help children speed up by motivating them to ‘beat the buzzer’.
  • Exam mindset
    – for many children, the 11+ will be their first ever formal exam, so it’s really important to help them understand how to deal with any nerves that may arise. A big part of this is how you talk about the 11+ at home. Make sure you talk about it positively and try not to talk about it in terms of ‘passing’ or ‘failing’. Instead, focus on the 11+ being a chance for your child to show off their skills and knowledge. Practically, if your child starts to feel nervous get them to breathe slowly in and out and repeat this 5 times. If they do this regularly, they’ll know how to calm themselves down if they start to feel nervous on their own in the exam.
  • Exam routine
    – encourage your child to develop a routine so that they develop good habits ahead of the real exam. Get them used to gathering together a sharp pencil and eraser, having a drink of water and popping to the toilet before they do a mock exam at home.

5. Vary their revision.
Use Bond Online to vary your child’s revision and keep them engaged. The online format helps children do short bursts of practice, and the instant feedback helps them understand how they’re doing. We now also have hundreds of free 11+ practice quizzes on our 11+ Handbook practice area (log in or register to access), which have been specifically formulated to support and consolidate the step-by-step explanations and worked examples found in our new Bond 11+ Handbooks.

6. Consider a tutor.
If you’re really concerned about your child’s progress or there’s a certain a topic that you just can’t seem to make any progress on, don’t forget that tutoring is still an option, although it may be more difficult to find a tutor this close to the exams. Our 'Finding a tutor' blog is full of great advice on what to look for when choosing a tutor.

7. Take a break.
Whatever stage your child is at in their 11+ preparation, make sure that they still get a break this summer to really relax. If results start to dip or concentration starts to wane, it’s far better to take a week or two off from revision to let your child regroup – you’ll reap the rewards in the long run.

We hope you find these tips useful this summer - have a great break.

The Bond team

Recommended resources

Bond 11+ Assessment Papers with Expanded Answers

English Assessement Papers with Answer Support book

Topic-based practice questions that set the foundation for success. These carefully-graded practice papers provide essential practice for each question type in a realistic exam style. Ages 5-13+ 

Now with fully explained answers (for ages 9-11)

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Bond 11+ Handbooks

Maths 11+ Handbook

Bond's ultimate 'how to' guides for each 11+ subject. With clear explanations and comprehensive worked examples of all 11+ question types to help children pass the 11+ exam.

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Mixed 11+ Test Paper Pack

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More from Bond

  • 11+ Handbook Practice Area: There are many different types of 11+ questions, and our new 11+ Handbook Practice Area provides targeted practice of the key topics and question types children will come across in the actual 11+ exam, all for free!
  • The 11+ Exam: A Parent's Guide: Covering everything you need to know ahead of the tests, download your free guide.
  • Watch our How To videos: From comprehension to probability, word-code-wode problems to nets of cubes, 11+ tutor Alvon Stewart shows you how to help your child at home with these tough skills.
  • Developing exam skills at home: Discover our top tips for helping your child develop their exam skills at home on the Bond blog.