6 top tips to help children prepare for entrance exams

by Anna Michaelidou

Entrance exams! Just those two words are enough to send shivers down a parent's back. Entrance exams are everywhere. They are used by some private schools, for grammar schools, for some colleges and selective universities. And many children and students often feel the pressure when they are expected to do well. Children as young as four are taking entrance exams for select private schools around the UK!

An article in The Telegraph stated:

Across all levels of the British school system can be found evidence of the 'exam factory' phenomenon. Children are being tested at all ages - from 4 to 18 - with increasing pressure being placed upon the results of the exams.

Whatever the reason your child is taking an entrance exam there are always steps that can be taken to help them to prepare and with the right approach and support secure a successful outcome.


We at First Tutors know how stressful entrance exams can be but we also know that with a little help and some good encouragement, entrance exams don't have to be a terrible or terrifying experience. We have complied a list of our top six tips to ensure you help your child prepare for their exams in the best way possible.

1. Make a study plan

Giving your child enough time to prepare for their entrance exam will automatically take away some of the stress. Once you have a date for the exam mark it in your calendar and plan the days with your child that they will study. Of course children should not give up their other extra-curricular activities to study for an entrance exam, just allow a certain amount of time per week to go over certain topics and prepare them as much as possible to build up their confidence and tackle any problem areas they may have.

Entrance exams do not need a whole heap of study time and depending on the capabilities of your child three to four times a week should be sufficient if you are planning a couple of months ahead. Making sure they have a couple of days off from study will alleviate some of the pressure they may feel.

2. Review past tests and concentrate on problem areas

Planning what your child needs to review is also an important factor to take into consideration. Consider the topics or subjects that may come up in the exam and try to organise them so that you are concentrating on the more difficult parts first. It is more beneficial to focus on the topics that your child struggles with the most to boost their confidence and take away some of the challenges.

Reviewing past papers can also be a great way of preparing a child for the type of exam they will need to sit. Past papers can help a child familiarise themselves with what types of questions they will be asked, how they will be worded, how much time they will have for each question and what types of answers the examination board is looking for.

3. Seek the help of a private tutor

An experienced tutor will encourage your child to feel confident when preparing for their entrance exams. They will have past papers at the ready to go over with your child and have plenty of techniques to ensure they build their confidence and understanding.

Finding the right tutor for your child is very important and First Tutors guarantees you'll find the best and most suitable tutor with our incredible search options. We will list all available tutors within close proximity to you, give you details of their qualifications and experience as well as their rates and reviews.

Children generally progress much faster with individual attention and a tutor is the best way to guarantee your child has the best chance at success, especially if they are struggling with certain topics around the exams in question.

4. Talk to others for advice

Seeing advice from others is also a good idea when preparing for entrance exams. Have your child speak to someone who has already sat the same kind of entrance exam to get some information into what they can expect and what kind of questions came up. Speak to your child's teacher to get some advice on the best possible preparation your child should do and speak to your child's tutor about supplying some past papers and offering any insight into the entrance exam they may have.

5. Know which type of learner your child is

learning styles

There are different styles of learning and understanding which learning style suits your child the best will definitely ensure a smoother and more positive study progression. There are three basic styles of learning:

  • Visual Learner - Visual learners can make pictures in their minds of how something will appear and learn best by seeing things written down, looking at images and watching videos.
  • Auditory Learner - Auditory learners best understand new concepts through listening and hearing things and remember best through verbal lectures, debates and discussions.
  • Kinaesthetic learner - Kinaesthetic learners learn best through interaction and movement and gain knowledge by discovering how things work and exploring the physical world around them.

To read more about learning styles and how to understand which learning style suits you or your child best please read our blog on 'Understanding Learning Styles'.

6. Do not stress and practice calming techniques

Keeping calm is a vital aspect for all exams and stress can bring a lot of negativity with it. If your child is feeling negative try speaking to them and giving them lots of encouragement. Motivate them and instil a positive attitude; it is not about passing the exam it's about doing their best and accepting all outcomes.

Create some strategies with your child that may help them overcome some obstacles during their exam. Skipping difficult and challenging questions and coming back to them later is one great tip whilst another is using the process of elimination and eliminating any answers that are obviously incorrect making choosing an answer that they are not entirely sure about easier. Another great exam tip is to read any questions before reading a passage so that they will know what information to look for and always make sure to read all of the answer options before selecting one; there may be one that seems correct but further down the list may be a more correct answer.

Ensure your child gets enough sleep both during revision time and the lead up to the exam and when they are studying to take small breaks to keep their concentration levels at a steady rate.

Find ways to make studying more fun such as playing review games with a parent or tutor, acting out some of the topics they are studying, colour-coding their notes with them or even making fun videos to revise or explain certain topics they may find challenging.

To conclude

Entrance exams can be a stressful time for most children but following some of these tips can ensure a smoother preparation process and a happier child; which of course is a great recipe for success. No matter how your child does in their entrance exams it is always important to note their effort and praise them regardless of a pass or a fail; children should never be given the feeling that they have failed at something.