Bexley Mum 2 wrote:
What Yoyo suggests is all good stuff, but with potentially less than six months to go if the tests are in September, I'd do some more specific practice as well. If you start now you can do it gently without having to cram or rush nearer the time.
Everyone's child is different of course - some kids need lots of preparation; a lucky few can pass with no preparation at all. My eldest two have both passed the 11+ (in Bexley, which, until this year, has been very similar to Kent) and my approach was as follows:
They both went to a tutorial centre. I'm sure you can DIY every bit as effectively, but one was already there because he needed to work on his writing so it was easy to just let him carry on with some 11+ prep; the other was totally unresponsive to any attempts from me to practice. I'd say they both started (very gently) on 11+ stuff about 9 months before the tests but this would just be about 1 and a quarter hours of VR or maths once a week during term time. In addition to this, I started doing practice with them at home a couple of months before the tests.
If I was DIYing for September I would probably try to start doing half an hour to an hour most weeks from now on. I'd save the NFER practice tests until about 2 or 3 months before the tests as these are probably the closest you'll get to the real thing. (Kent tests are NFER multiple choice). Lots of people will tell you what other test papers are appropriate for Kent and what aren't, but if you look at the NFER papers you will get a feel for the types of question and will be able to pick out bits from other practice papers that are relevant.
The important thing with practice is, I think, to keep it as low-key and stress-free as possible. Your child might like to sit down and do a whole paper once every week or two. Or they might prefer, as mine did, to do one page of a test every few days. You've got to try and find out what works best. But keep boosting your child's confidence and make a note of things they don't understand so you can go over them again. I kept a running list (actually written in pencil on my study wall!) of maths terminology that we kept having difficulty with (product, quotient, mode, mean etc) so I could just "casually" drop it into the conversation at dinner time to see if my son could remember what the meanings.
I think it's a bit unnerving for you not knowing if the tests are in September or January. If you start practicing now and find out they are still in January, I'd slow right down so you don't overdo things.
You need to also pay attention to speed - without making your son anxious about it. My second son did the Kent tests this year as a back-up plan and, as with the Bexley tests, the VR and NVR and very time-pressured. But please don't do what some parents seem to do and stand over your child with a stop-watch. Speed will come with practice. The more famililar they are with what they're doing, the quicker they will work. Maths isn't so time-pressured, but, if you look at the posts on this forum, it seems to be the paper that most people failed on.
There are also cunning tricks to be learnt. Like on the NVR paper you can usually eliminate 3 of the 5 possible answers quickly so you can spend your measly 30 seconds agonising between 2 possible answers and, if you have to guess, you've then got a 50% chance of guessing right! Also, I read a wonderful post the other day from someone who said that, the trick with the alphabet codes (VR) is not to waste time working out the whole answer, but to work out the first and last letter and pick out the right answer from the multiple choice options.
I'm sorry for the random nature of all of these comments. I could go on for pages and pages! Best thing you can do now is browse through this forum and you'll find out loads of stuff. And keep posting - you'll always get a response!
Thanks for all of your advice. Just one question, did you apply for 3 schools in Bexley & 3 schools in Kent, because that was my idea as a back up as well? Also(sorry 2 questions!!) do you know of a good comprehensive in the Bexley Borough? Thanks