Why is learning vocabulary important?
A great indicator of what vocabulary will be present on upcoming 11+ exams is the vocabulary that was used on previous ones. It won’t be identical, but there will be significant overlap, and when several previous years are combined, most of the necessary words will be covered. To make sure of adequate coverage, several of the more difficult words from the year six curriculum are also included, as are the top 100 most commonly misspelt words.
How should you use a vocabulary list?
The most effective method is to break the list up into sections – don’t try to tackle it all at once. Give mock spelling tests on a portion of the test and make a note of any mistakes. Misspelt words should be added to subsequent spelling tests until they have been spelt correctly two consecutive times. Once the list has been completed, including misspelt words, return to the original test and give them all again. Make a note of mistakes and compare to the original mistakes. It will become apparent which words are especially problematic for your child.
The problematic words can be learned in several different ways, and rote memorisation is among the least effective. It is better to have your child write the vocabulary in sentences to get a strong sense of the meaning and context in which it is used. The child should learn the word that means the opposite, and any common synonyms. In other words, don’t expect your child to retain the spelling without any context. If your child gains a familiarity with the word and its usage, he or she will be more successful in remembering the spelling.
Once you have done this, review the word in a test setting three or four times before the actual exam. In the end, your child should be able to spell and use the formerly problematic words as well or better than the ones they spelled correctly the first time.
Background on How Children Develop Vocabulary
Children begin with exposure to unknown words. These words then become “previously seen” words. They then become “familiar” words, then “known” words, and finally “secure” words, meaning that your child can spell and understand the usage of the word as a matter of course.
Classic Books Help With Vocab
Classic books are an excellent means of familiarising your child with a wide vocabulary. Classic books tend to have a higher, more sophisticated vocabulary than many modern books, and the experience of reading these words in a skilfully-created context will help to embed them in your child’s mind.
They should also be used alongside doing 11 plus practice papers.
Don’t Neglect Other Parts of the 11+ Exam
Vocabulary, because it comes in a handy list, is one of the most straightforward parts of the exam to study. For this reason, it is sometimes studied more than other parts of the content, and the student suffers due to neglect of the exam as a whole. So make sure to use a holistic revision plan for the 11 plus.