Hannah shares her top tips on how to prepare students for the competitive 7+ exams. This blog focuses on how young students can best be taught to manage their time well.
I think most of us have experienced the sinking feeling of running out of time in an exam! Therefore, in the weeks and months ahead of the 7+ assessment, getting children used to the timings of the day is key. Specific information regarding the assessment morning or day will usually be sent to parents who have registered in the weeks running up to the exam. While the exact nature of the 7+ exam varies from school to school, in general, there will be an English, maths and reasoning paper. Each one of these papers will be sat under timed conditions.
The best way to learn time management skills is to complete practice papers in timed conditions. Allowing children to have access to both a digital and an analogue clock while they are working is helpful to enable them to be fully prepared and to manage the time they have available.
This is how I would suggest administering a timed practice paper:
Before the child begins a practice timed paper, I will first ensure the child has read the time allowed on the front of the paper and calculated the time the paper will finish.
Most English papers are divided between comprehension and composition, with a similar amount of marks available for both parts. When about to start one of these papers with a student, I will ask them to make sure they split their time equally between the two parts of the paper (whether they have finished the first part or not). Working out the time on the clock when they need to move on to the next part of the paper before they begin helps them to pace themselves more efficiently during the paper.
I will also encourage all students to allow time at the end to check through a paper for completing missed questions or re-reading/recalculating to check for avoidable errors, for which they will lose marks. I will ask them to factor this is to their timings at the start, aiming to leave 5-10 minutes at the end to check.
While the student is completing the paper, I will be making notes of their pace through the paper and at key points (e.g. halfway, 5 minutes left), I will remind them of how much time has passed. This, I find, enables the child to get a clearer sense of how long a paper lasts and helps them to adjust their pace if necessary. As the student becomes used to doing papers, I will give less information about timings during the paper, allowing them to grow their own independence and teaching them to manage their own time. I increasingly aim to replicate the exam conditions for them as much as possible as the exam approaches.
After the time has finished, I will ask the student to reflect on how well they think they used their time, asking questions like:
Following this, I will share my own observations of how well the student used their time based on the notes made during the session and identify ways for them to improve their time management. When the session has ended, I will offer feedback to the parents. In the subsequent session, I spend some time modelling and practising an area of time management to work on before the next timed paper to support the child’s ongoing progress.
Getting young learners gradually more used to working under timed conditions is a good exercise and ensures that they feel confident come 7 Plus exam day.