How to revise for your 11+ or 13+

IB student writing an exam

Being an international student,  it can be hard to know how to revise for the UK common entrance exams such as the 11+ or 13+. We talked to our highly experienced tutor Helen about how to prepare your children for the test.

What area in the 11+ or 13+ do you find most children struggle with?

For English, the paper usually requires the student to look beyond the surface story or poem given, then figure out what the author intended beneath, such as a hidden meaning or a deeper moral: that can be challenging for a younger student. For Maths, most topics should be familiar from regular school – however, the topic of Sequences / Series appeared on one paper at a much harder level than my student had seen before.

 Is it harder for an international student to score well on school exams?

I think international students can do very well, as long as they prepare thoroughly. They need to become familiar with the exam format, which may be different to what they are used to seeing. For Maths in the UK, it’s very important to also show HOW you work out the answer, not just what the answer is. 

What resources do you like to use?

Past papers from the student’s chosen school are key, also other similar entrance papers from other schools are good practice. For English, I also choose similar texts or poems that are well known, for analysis. For Maths, I also use “Try Some” practice exercises from our SAT book (the SAT is the US test taken in Grade 12), on key revision topics such as Fractions, Percentages etc. I also use good online resources here, such as the “Maths is Fun” website.

 How do you prepare your students for the exams?

I use the past papers available to help assess where the student is already at ease and where they need more focus. We’ll go through theory and practice on any areas where the student is less confident, but it’s also important to build on the strengths they have, to aim to maximize their score. We also review exam techniques, timing, speed, staying calm etc.

Students often like to share or recap key ideas or learnings with their families, so giving them an example such as a Maths puzzle to challenge their parents with over dinner has worked well – “Teach to learn” aids memory!

How long do you usually prep a student before a school exam?

It depends! Every student is unique. The more they practice in between sessions, the less time with a tutor is needed.

What is the difference between the common entrance, and the school-specific tests?

School-specific tests do vary and may put particular focus on slightly different areas in Maths; for English, the texts can vary from more classic texts/poems to much more recent ones.

Helen, an MBA graduate from INSEAD, is a trained Test Prep tutor, KAPLAN certified and teaches SAT prep courses and the British common entrance test preparation (11+, 13+). Helen also enjoys helping graduate students successfully prepare for the MBA/Business Schools’ international entrance exam (GMAT).

She tutors Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Verbal Mastery and Quantitative Reasoning (Mathematics) and is a successful MBA Coach. Helen also uses her background as a management consultant alongside her business expertise to teach IB Business Management SL & HL.

If you would like to talk to us about your child’s school entrance exam, call us on +41 22 731 8148 or fill in a contact form here.


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