As far as tests of this kind are concerned, this means exactly as the phrase suggests; to manage the time efficiently and effectively, to correctly answer as many questions as possible within the time allowed for each test. In addition, time management also implies being aware of the time/number of questions relationship. So, the children should be trained to be mindful if they are progressing at the required speed at any time during the test. They should also be taught to avoid spending excessive time on certain questions categories than the question category merits.
How will the child be aware how much time he/she needs to spend on each category?
By constantly reminding the child about the benefits of time management before any timed practice paper session and monitoring the progress by discussing the results with the child. By showing the child through examples how much difference effective time management would make to the results. If the children see their scores in the practice papers are going up because they are using time management techniques, they will find it much easier to adopt those techniques. However, time management needs to be based on objective analysis of child’s strengths and weaknesses for each subject area.
Being very competent with answering questions to a high degree of accuracy alone would not be sufficient, as each test needs to be completed within a given time. It is quite possible, especially with verbal reasoning, that your child would not be able to complete all the questions in the time allowed. In fact only a very small minority can manage that. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that the child is not only aware how much time each question category merits, but also to manage that time to suit his/her strengths. Do not forget, what is required is to correctly answer more questions within the given time than at least 80% of the children taking the same exam.
Having got fairly familiar with the practice paper formats and quite competent with the question categories, the child should start timed practice papers. The difference will become immediately apparent as the child will find it very difficult to complete the papers in the stated time. A few weeks from this, time management elements should be introduced. It is quite possible to introduce time management little earlier for English and Maths, but the child should not be bombarded with instructions and should be allowed to digest the concepts. The child should have at least 2-3 months to practice the time management skills.
During the practice sessions the strengths and weaknesses of the children should be carefully recorded in relation to question categories and they should be fully aware of this. There are some question categories all children would find difficult and even in easier categories there may be one or two difficult questions. This is quite normal, as they are designed that way and having to spend more time on some question types is all part of the exam process. However, what the child needs to know is roughly how much time each category of questions merits.This is easier to manage in English and Maths, as difficult and more time consuming questions also carry higher marks. Same is not true however for Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning, as every question carries identical mark irrespective of the level of difficulty or the time needed to work out the answer. The extra time spent on some questions will be balanced out by the time gained from the easier categories. The child needs to get into a habit of answering the strong categories first. Your child should start the test from the beginning working her/his way through until a weak category is arrived at. Answer any question in that category that are exceptionally easy and mark all the others with a circle around the question number and go on to the next category and so on. Once the end of the test is reached, if there is any time left, go back to the beginning and scan through the questions with circles around them and find the least difficult category amongst them to work on. Then, the next least difficult and so on. By doing this, you would have made sure that all the easy questions are completed and you will have no regrets reflecting back on the test.
Also, if tests for any subject area are in multiple choice format in your region, your child should leave himself/herself one or two minutes to go through the answer sheet and mark all the unanswered questions with some answer. 20% chance of getting a question your child finds impossible to answer right is better than no chance. Besides, for some difficult questions the child would be able to reduce the possible answers down to two and the probability would than go up to 50%.
“How can you expect a 10 year old child to adapt such a complex strategy?” you may ask, especially when they are racing against time. Children are able to accomplish a lot more than we give them credit for, as long as the benefits of such tactics are demonstrated to them in real life during their practice sessions.
Action speaks louder than words. Here is one simple suggestion:
Having established their weak and strong categories, give them a, say 50 minute, Verbal Reasoning practice paper and ask them to answer every question in the same order as they are set. Remind them of the remaining time after 20 minutes and 35 minutes. Stop the test exactly on 50 minutes. Mark the test together with your child. Following day give her/him another practice paper with same question categories. This time, before the child starts the test, tell him exactly in what order he/she should answer the questions. In fact you should mark the answering order on the paper starting with his/her strongest categories ending with the weakest. Try not to make the order too complex, so the child would not need to go backwards and forwards many times. Mark this test with him as well. If the degree of difficulty between the two tests is very small and the question categories are nearly identical, the results should be proof enough to the child which method is superior.
After the children clearly see the benefits of time management , it is just a matter of reminding them with few more papers until they get into the habit of doing it automatically. However, for this exercise you must guard against overestimating the benefits, which may raise the child’s expectations too high. Do not expect very large differences in scores, but a a few percentage points gained by effective time management could make all the difference. At or near the cut-off points, there would be a dense cluster of children and even one extra percentage point may be enough to overtake 40-50 other kids. Yet, good time management could bring quite a few more percentage points than that.
Knowing exactly how to answer every category of question is a good start. And getting the answers right for the vast majority of the time is even better. But, knowing how to answer each question correctly within the time allocated for that question is what brings success. Correctly answering more questions than at least 550 of the 670 kids hoping to get admitted to their choice of grammar school, which only takes 120 newcomers every year, during the time allowed in the actual 11 Plus Exams, is what makes your dream come true.