“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”T.S.Eliot
Happy Classroom 3 (Part 3 of a series on how time helps your child prepare and pass.)
The Go Forwards technique has one aim: increase the number of questions
your child can answer within the time set by the target school.
How long is each part of your child’s test? Check with your chosen schools.
Most tests look something like this:
• Stories/recount/creative writing tests: 25 minutes, or 40-60 minutes.
• English comprehension/grammar/multiple choice: 30-50 minutes.
• Maths papers multiple choice/written: 40-60 minutes
• Verbal and non-verbal reasoning papers: 30 to 50 minutes.
• Combined English/verbal reasoning: 45minutes
In weekly practice tests, both you and your child can use the following 4 steps:
- Note the time allocated to a given practice paper.
- Begin the test and stop exactly when the time says, whether you have
finished or not.
- How many questions did your child leave out? Three, ten, fifteen? Regardless
of the number, congratulations – your child now has a starting point that lets
you both know what he or she can do within the time.
Now comes the value. Set your child a fun challenge:
- Can you answer just 1 more question within the given time in the next test?
Interestingly, by trying to beat a score by one, they may answer 2 or 3
more, just by being aware of it.
Next test after that, the same challenge – can they answer just one more question
than in the previous test?
You can work out that over a couple of months, it’s quite possible for your child to be
answering all the questions within the given time.
Just by increasing the number of questions they can confidently answer by 1 each
The key is a GRADUAL INCREASE. It is the art of the possible. The art of
happy. Better to first answer questions correctly, then answer quickly.
Eventually, a month before the test day at least, although it could be much sooner,
your child looks to finish practice tests with around 5 minutes to spare to use for
Introduce speed slowly. (Oxymoron alert – speed slowly…hmm.)
(Musical instrument lessons follow a similar method.)
It is better to learn to recognise the tricks multiple choice tests play, better to learn
neat and effective ways to find the information and avoid the tricks played by the
answers; thereafter, turning up the speed will have a purpose. Is there any point in doing something wrong fast?
HAPPY TIP: The Go Forwards technique is also a fantastic booster for creative
If your child writes a couple of paragraphs in an initial session, praise them, then in
the next session, issue a relaxed challenge to write one more sentence next time.
Continue to issue fresh challenges to add extra sentences in the next piece of
You may wish to pace this challenge to every second or third piece of writing, so they are not always thinking of increasing quantity at the expense of quality.
I hope this is helpful advice. Please come back for classroom 4 in the next couple of days.