• Penny

13+ Common Entrance : The final countdown

Updated: Aug 7, 2019

6 Top Tips for 13+ Common Entrance Exam week

The time has come, Common Entrance week has arrived and for many young children in the country it may feel like their future is riding on the next few days. At the tender age of 13, this is as great deal to process and retaining focus is key.

Deep breaths and meditation will certainly help with a cool, calm approach and with keeping a clear head. It’s important to be ready to filter other people’s anxiety. There may well be a lot of whizzing and buzzing in the minutes before the exam with ‘have you dones’ , ‘did you knows’ and ‘don’t you thinks’. Your mission is to deflect these distractions and remain zen, ready to be on top form. This performance is about you and nobody else.

Here are 6 suggestions, which should, given a fair wind, help to culminate in a rich harvest of 13+ Common Entrance exam grades:

1. Time for quiz questions

Learning, memorizing and practicing answers can become a little dry and lonely. As crunch time approaches, it will aid memory to lift the facts off the page and start testing yourself or, better still, requesting a lovely friend or family member to act as quizmaster. The more animated, the better as long as the focus is not lost. If feeling confident, challenge your quizmaster to score you or separate topics into different rounds when questioning. Structure will keep.

2. Practice 13+ Common Entrance Past Papers

If you have done a pile of past papers at school, do not be overwhelmed; this is good news. No time for yawning, rather look back through them and see if you can improve your answers. If there are 5 marks, have you made 5 points? For longer, essay style answers, look at what the teacher has commented on. Do answers need to tie in more with the question? Everyone is told umpteen times to ‘read the question’ but the key to your A grade is aligning the answer accordingly. Are you responding in the way the examiner is expecting? Get into the head of the examiner! The more you can help the examiner and make their life easier when marking, the smoother the path will be to that top result!

If time, set yourself a few final timed questions. For French, try that letter section for a maximum of 30 minutes. Afterwards, go through your answer as critically as possible; check the content, direction of accents and accuracy of verb phrases. If stuck, one of our private tutors can soon do the odd bit of marking so do not hesitate to email anything through.

Short bursts of timed practice will help build stamina and prevent unnecessary errors in the actual Common Entrance Exams. Developing time management skills will also help with confidence and promote that all essential can-do attitude to what lies ahead.

3. Digital Detox

All those lovely devices for researching, googling, typing up notes and practicing questions have been brilliant in the longer and mid-term phases of revision but, for this final stage, detach from the computer or laptop and turn off any screens, especially that phone! The distraction is just too tempting. This week, with limited time before being grilled across those 13+ Common Entrance subjects, every last drop of revision will need to be finely tuned and highly focused.

4. Make up mnemonics

The word stands for Make Names Easily Memorable by Organising Nominated Initial Characters. Student UK suggests My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas to remember the nine planets in order of distance from the sun (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto). Dr & Mrs Van Der Tramp (or similar) is popular for remembering which French verbs take être in the perfect tense. Of course, make up your own more personalised versions. As long as it sticks, it works.

5. Acting out

The most obvious place to act might be in your French oral. There are huge benefits of course to rehearsing those presentations in front of the mirror, to a friend or your favourite inanimate object. Saying the words out loud aids pronunciation, builds familiarity with the sounds and even promotes muscle memory. The same oral skills can transfer to History or Biology, for example, where there is a story to tell. Going through the French Revolution or the process of digestion out loud, possibly with a pen and paper to illustrate as you go, can be empowering; you become your own teacher, with your own style, a style that sticks.

6. Go bananas!

It is tennis season so look at all the top tennis players for inspiration and capitalize on this potassium-rich performance-enhancer to increase your energy levels. When Djokovic and Federer need a boost, they steer clear of the biscuits, haribo and cola drinks and instead reach into their bags for a banana.

Finally, good luck to you all!

Reference to Charles Middleton, The Telegraph

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