We have done our first timed mixed CEM style paper in class today; albeit a shorter paper with just 50 questions mainly because we didn’t want to demotivate those children who would be unlikely to finish a longer paper at this stage.

We have started to try and instil good habits early on so that they become second nature to the children:

Guess any tricky questions that you can’t answer quickly enough and move on to the next question, sometimes this can be very difficult for a 9 or 10 year old as they think that the questions will become progressively difficult like in some school tests. Feedback that we’ve had strongly suggests otherwise and that whilst there have been very difficult questions, they are dotted around the papers and don’t get harder.

By all means use your question booklet to jot down any workings out, but don’t rub this out as it takes and therefore wastes valuable time.

Never, ever, leave a question blank as it will automatically be a wrong answer, some children are convinced that there is some sort of negative marking going on in the 11+ which CEM clearly state is not the case.

As a general rule, if you have the luxury of having any time left over at the end of a section (unless you know for sure that you have made a completely random guess) DON’T be tempted to change an answer that you thought was correct first time. The number of times that I have heard a year 5 child moan ‘but I put the right answer the first time and then I went back and changed it to a wrong answer’ has convinced me that their first instinctive answer is usually the best answer.

I secretly hope that the children will either forget to mark their multiple choice answer sheet or if they do, get it horribly wrong and be one question ‘adrift’. Mistakes like these are best made early, reducing the chances of any such howlers on the actual test day

A really interesting point came out in the homework corrections this week:

The question was:

What is two-thirds of 78 centilitres?

The vast majority of students felt that they couldn’t answer this question as they didn’t know what a centilitre was!! Oh dear! Work to do…