School House Magazine

Preparing for 13+ Common Entrance

Published online January 2015

Cyrus Afkhami, founder of My Tutor Club, offers his top tips for preparing for the looming 13+ Common Entrance exams

With January nearing an end, there are approximately ten weeks of term time remaining between now and the 13+ Common Entrance exams.

The exams need not be daunting or overwhelming; with the right organising and planning for the months ahead, you can make sure that your child will be prepared, confident and ready for them.

Here are five key ways to help you and your child plan for the months ahead:

Start scheduling and planning now
As you plan a revision schedule for 13+ Common Entrance, remember that there will need to be time for rest, relaxation and revision. Failing to prepare, is preparing to fail. To increase confidence and boost performance, a little bit of work over a longer period of time is hugely more beneficial than last-minute cramming.

Focus on learning core content now
Ask the teacher now what remaining topics will be covered on the 13+ syllabus for this term. Make a note of these in a timetable. Remember that during the final four weeks before the exams, exam technique should be the only thing being revised. It is too late for new material at this stage. The heavy lifting of learning new content should be done now and at the very latest, over the Easter break.

Exam technique
Remember it is one thing to know the syllabus content and quite another to be able to apply knowledge in an exam setting, which answers the questions being asked. In 13+ Maths for example, ‘unravelling’ and ‘interpreting’ a four-line worded question on percentages and understanding what is actually being asked is often more difficult than solving the pure maths.

Put time limits homework and give rewards
If a 30-minute window is given for homework, or to revise a particular topic, it is more likely to completed in the designated period of time, in comparison to when an open-ended time limit is given.

Give rewards (for example half an hour on the iPad or a trip to the cinema) but only if the assignment is completed on time. By giving clearly defined time limits and rewards, actual time studying and revising will be made more efficient, targeted and effective.

Effective learning
Make sure that the core content is learnt, while at the same time studying how the topics are examined in past papers. Exam performance can be improved by starting to work through past papers now. The best candidates at 13+ Common Entrance don’t know the most material; they are the most skilled at using what they do know effectively and efficiently. Understanding how the topics are examined is crucial to success at 13+ Common Entrance level.

My Tutor Club are holding 13+ Booster courses for Maths, English and Science throughout the February half term and the Easter break which will be tailored towards the ISEB 13+ Common Entrance exams.