ISEB: Top Tips to Keep Your Child Motivated in ISEB Common Pre-Tests revision

Posted on 18th July 2023

Posted by CENTURY

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes


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Children aiming to enter independent schools often need to take entrance exams, which may include the Independent Schools Examination Board (ISEB) Common Pre-Tests. These tests play a vital role in the admission process and require careful preparation.

Our team of expert teachers has compiled a list of valuable tips to help you support your child's motivation during the preparation phase for the ISEB Common Pre-Tests.

Understanding the importance of motivation in ISEB Common Pre-Tests preparation

When it comes to revision, if your child can develop their own drive, this can lead them to build their own sense of purpose. With the right motivation, they will have the drive to revise and study independently to achieve their purpose. Encouraging this self-motivation can set them up for long-term success. 

Having the right motivators also creates genuine engagement between your child and what they are learning. This kind of engagement helps to drive children to be more involved in their studies, which can even result in them being able to learn more than their less motivated peers. In addition to being great for exam preparation, these qualities will help them settle into a high performing independent school, and beyond.

If your child lacks motivation, don’t worry. The mounting pressure of exams, the lack of a consistent study routine, and unclear personal goals can pose challenges to your child’s motivation. However, they can all be easily addressed. The following tips can help eliminate these factors and keep your child driven in their preparation for the ISEB Common Pre-Tests.

a child working hard on his laptop

Setting realistic goals for ISEB Common Pre-Tests success

This is the first step in helping your child develop drive in their exam preparation. It’s a great way to keep track of revision progress, along with building a sense of fulfilment as your child ticks off their objectives. 

Start by mapping out their current abilities in each subject, paying special attention to their strengths and weaknesses. Set goals based on these findings, spending more time working on areas they struggle with and less on topics they have mastered. Remember to set SMART goals: make sure they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

From there, each goal should be broken down into manageable tasks. For example, if your child’s goal is to improve their reading comprehension skills, start with reading and discussing a short story or article every day, then move on to longer novels. This practice can help goals seem more achievable, even if it takes small steps to get there.

two parents happily reading with their child

Creating an effective exam practice routine for the ISEB Common Pre-Tests

With your child’s study goals in mind, you can now develop an exam preparation action plan. Keep in mind how long your child has until the exam, and divide their work accordingly. Start with a weekly study session, then increase that to three or four times a week the closer your child gets to their ISEB Common Pre-Tests examination. 

One of the biggest benefits of an exam preparation plan is building a routine. Once your child is used to allocating time for studying, it becomes much easier for them to build consistency and for you to oversee and help them manage their revision. You can always increase the number of sessions as needed later. 

Having a schedule also helps make exam preparation less daunting. Seeing each step of revision planned beforehand, you and your child can mentally prepare for studying relevant topics without worrying about missing anything important along the way. However, a revision plan should also be flexible to adapt based on your child’s week-to-week progress. 

Online study tools like Bond Online Premium Plus can help do this for you. As your child works through the assessments on the platform, the artificial intelligence (AI) identifies any misconceptions or knowledge gaps. The AI will then recommend the best topics to revise next based on these insights, and will continue to make recommendations the more your child uses the platform. Bond Online Premium Plus is the only test prep platform with content created by the ISEB.

Incorporating ISEB Common Pre-Tests exam strategy into revision

Developing the right exam strategies can make the difference in your child succeeding in the ISEB Common Pre-Tests, particularly as these are online assessments taken on a computer, which can be a new experience for many children. Build a step-by-step exam routine for your child to follow, for example: 

Select the appropriate background colour overlay and font at the beginning of the test. Help your child find their preferred set-up in advance by using the ISEB Common Pre-Tests Walkthrough.

Read each question and all of the possible answers thoroughly to make sure of understanding before selecting the answer. The questions are multiple choice, so if your child is struggling to choose the correct answer techniques such as process of elimination for the incorrect answers may help them.

If needed, your child may write notes or their working out on paper with a pen or pencil. This can be particularly helpful solving maths problems, or noting reference points in the comprehension section. These notes will not be marked.

When your child is sure of their answer, they should select it with a click. Double check the answer at this point, as once the answer to a question is submitted it is not possible to go back to it to check again. Once they have checked they are happy, they can click ‘Submit Answer’ to move onto the next question.

The ISEB Common Pre-Tests are adaptive, which means your child’s ability will be assessed by the system after each question to increase the accuracy of the scores. This also means that candidates may see different questions and the test length may vary. Many candidates will find their tests are shorter than the maximum time limits allowed, and there are no extra marks awarded for answering more questions or finishing quicker - so there is no need to rush! 

Completing mock tests under timed conditions using past papers or practice questions can be good preparation to help your child’s pace and exam routine. This is a great way to build confidence and reduce exam stress, by familiarising them with question types that they may not have encountered before, such as verbal or non-verbal reasoning. 

For help with exam practice, Bond Online Premium Plus offers online test practice for independent school exams with content from the ISEB. This encompasses all the different types of question your child might encounter in the exam, and you will also have access to CENTURY’s tried and tested Learning Nuggets. These have been designed by our team of expert teachers to support preparation for English, maths, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning for the ISEB Common Pre-Tests.

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Maintaining a positive attitude

It is natural to lose momentum during exam preparation, especially if your child is doing a lot of revision over a long period. Taking breaks is vital to keeping your child reinvigorated throughout their revision period. If you notice their marks falling even if they were doing well before, it might be a good idea to take a break from studying so as to refresh them and avoid them feeling dejected by their scores.

Adopt a positive mindset when it comes to exams: instead of framing lower-than-expected-scores as ‘failure’, look at it as an opportunity to learn and build experience. Although exams can feel scary, having a calm and methodical approach can lead your child to success. This mentality can help reduce exam stress and help focus on revision.

Rewards and positive reinforcement

Celebrate your child’s wins, even small ones, to keep them engaged and driven in their studies. Rewards can vary greatly, from compliments and praise to physical rewards like stickers or their favourite ice-cream.

Don't underestimate the influence a few supportive words from a parent or loved one can have on building your child's confidence. Be your child’s biggest supporter, and recognise all the hard work they’ve put into their exam preparation. You might be surprised at how effective that can be as a motivator for your child.

Keeping your child motivated is crucial in Common Pre-Tests exam preparation for entrance into independent schools. For personalised revision plans and exam practice for the 11 plus, sign up for a free 7 day trial of Bond Online Premium Plus.

Learn more about Bond Online Premium Plus by registering for an introductory parent webinar or by visiting our website for more information.