11+ exams: Intensive Learning or Slower Progression – Which is Best? - Nov '17

By Michellejoy Hughes (teacher and tutor)

Of all the questions that I get asked, this is one of the most popular. I wish that I had the definitive answer, but I don’t, because every child is different. However, this is what I have learned from the hundreds of children that I have taught and I hope something here helps you.

Intensive Learning

Intensive learning can provide a quick flurry of activity that culminates in the 11+ exam. A child might have half a day of learning every day for the last three weeks of the school holidays or a whole day to replicate the school experience, for one or two weeks. The intensity can be exciting for some children who relish the challenge, and as long as it is not completed on school days, many children enjoy the process and the results can be fantastic. However, it is not an approach for all children – or their parents!

Intensive Learning: The benefits and problems

· Gets the whole 11+ process over in two or three weeks

· The speed can energise a child

· The work covered requires little revision as the techniques remain fresh

· Lessons taken during the holidays don’t impact on normal life

· A child is highly motivated as the exam is so close


· The time before they begin intensive learning can be nerve-wracking as others are already preparing

· It can be overwhelming!

· It can be confusing to learn so much in such a little time

· It can feel like putting all of your eggs are in one basket

· There is not time to focus more on any weak skills

Slower Learning

Slower learning can provide the space for a child to learn, consolidate and grow in confidence. This might be spread out over a year or two, or three, and demands a small amount of work each week with a variety of resources employed to strengthen skills and techniques. It is ideal for a child who prefers a logical, gentle and stress-free way of working that does not impinge too much on daily life. The results are known as you work through the process and there is time to make changes based on this knowledge. However, it is not the best approach for a child who is easily bored or for parents who are time-pressured themselves.

Slower Progression: The benefits and problems

· Skills are likely to become more fully embedded for the long term.

· There is time to develop and consolidate new skills and techniques

· The lack of pressure suits many children

· Little and often helps maintain a normal life of hobbies and interests

· You have time to adjust to how well your child is learning, improving and performing


· The long drawn out process can bore some children

· Some children can peak too early

· A child is aware of the 11+ exam over a longer period of time and may start to worry about it far earlier

· Motivation can rise and fall

There are, of course, many variations that tread the middle ground. Whatever approach suits you and your child’s lifestyles and learning preferences, and causes the least stress and anguish, is the one that I would go with.

Even though it might be tempting to do what other parents are doing, having strength of conviction and the knowledge of your own child and their learning style is key. In a school classroom, your child has relatively little option for a tailored learning plan, but this is an ideal opportunity to really work around the best needs of your child and your family.

For more 11+ revision advice and tips, visit the Bond 11+ website: https://www.bond11plus.co.uk/

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