Developing 11+ exam skills at home



For many children, the 11+ exam is their first experience of a formal exam under timed conditions, which is why it’s vital that you spend time developing your child’s exam skills before the actual exam.

Below are our top tips for helping your child develop their exam skills at home: 


Time management plays a big part when it comes to succeeding at the 11+. If a child works too slowly during the exam, they may end up running out of time and not completing the test. Likewise, if a child rushes they could end up making careless mistakes that will lose them vital marks.

Here are some key ways to improve your child’s time management:

  1. Beat the buzzer – first and foremost, if your child is still struggling to complete practice papers in the recommended time (45 minutes for most Bond test papers) start using a kitchen timer and encourage them to ‘beat the buzzer’ and complete the test before the buzzer goes off. Perhaps start on shorter, ten minute tests to build their confidence, then progress up to longer tests.
  2. Read ahead – if your child is going to be sitting a paper exam, it's a good idea to get your child into the habit of spending a few minutes at the start of the test going through the paper and highlighting the questions that they think they will struggle with. They should then go back to the start of the test paper and work through all the questions they’re confident with and then go back to the highlighted ones. This means that they won’t spend too long on questions they’re struggling with and miss answering the questions they can do.
  3. It’s ok to skip – lots of children struggle to complete tests in the allocated time because they spend too long trying to answer questions they’re stuck on. You need to make sure your child understands that it’s ok to skip a question they can’t do, and that they can always come back to it at the end if they have time.
  4. Time to check – when you’re doing practice tests at home, try to find time for your child to get into the habit of finishing with 5 minutes to spare in order to check their answers.
  5. Find the clock – get your child into the habit of finding the clock when they practice at home so that they do this as soon as they enter the exam room.
  6. Exam plans – each time your child does a practice test, they should get into the habit of writing an exam plan on a scrap piece of paper. For a 45 minute test, their plan should look like this:
    • Exam starts at 10am and ends at 10.45am
    • 10-10.05am: 5 minutes looking through the questions (if possible, such as in a paper exam)
    • 10.05-10.40: 35 minutes answering the questions
    • 10.40-10.45: 5 minutes checking answers

Exam habits

Completing practice tests and mock exams at home not only improves subject knowledge and time management skills, it also gives your child the opportunity to develop good exam habits, which will help them cope with the actual test environment.

  1. 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.
  2. Dealing with nerves – 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. 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.
  3. Dealing with distractions – some children struggle when they go into an 11+ exam room because it’s a different environment than they’re used to. Although the exam room will be quiet, for children who are used to practising in total silence, noises such as coughs and sneezes or squeaking chairs can be really off-putting. A good way of combatting this at home is to vary the places where your child does their practice tests, so that they don’t start to feel that things need to be ‘just so’ before completing a test. A bit of background noise or walking past whilst their practising will also help them get used to any small distractions that may occur in the actual exam.

We hope you find these tips useful. If you think other people would find them useful too, don't forget to share them on Facebook.


For realistic 11+ exam practice at home, browse our range of timed 11+ test papers on the Bond Shop. 

The Bond team

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