Exam Preparation

Performance Coaching for Home Learning

By | Exam Preparation | No Comments

Performance Coaching for Home Learning

How to use Key Strengths to stay motivated and on track with online learning

Performance Coaching Boy Desk

Performance Coaching is all about helping students to identify their Key Strengths to optimise motivation, resourcefulness, grit and well-being.

In my online sessions with students, we use the Strengths Questionnaire to identify their Natural Strengths. We then find creative ways to use each unique strength to optimise independent learning, goal setting, and self-belief. Helping students use their Key Strengths to keep them motivated and on-task is essential during this unprecedented period of online learning.

Recently, I worked with a home-schooled boy in Year 11 who came up with the most fantastic ideas. He worked with me on finding ways to utilise his top strength of ‘Perspective’, and shared that he could using ‘self-coaching’ to keep motivated, ‘avoiding engaging in unhelpful thinking filters’ to keep him on task, and ‘seeing the examiner’s perspective’ when writing answers to maximise marks. For ‘Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence’, he wrote ‘acknowledge my own everyday successes’ and ‘knowing what’s good and what’s bad work’.

Encourage your child to write down some of their Key Strengths, and get them to think about how they can use them. For example, a simple yet effective way to start the day is to focus on ‘what’s strong, rather than what’s wrong’.

— Pepita Torbrand, Performance Coach,

Performance Coaching

By | Exam Preparation | No Comments

Reaching for the stars: How Performance Coaching can release your inner strengths

Performance coaching A level GCSE tutoring 11+ 13+ Oxbridge Success

Performance Coaching is an evidence-based approach which uses concrete techniques to help optimise academic performance and increase confidence. It uses elements of mindfulness and positive psychology to develop a constructive inner voice and develop personal strengths to reach academic goals.

Our Performance Coach, Pepita, writes of her experience:

My greatest reward as a psychologist is helping students remove what is standing in their way of performing to their very best and helping them reach their full potential! As a coach, I see a lot of students who experience psychological barriers and frequent unhelpful thoughts that play havoc with their confidence, motivation and performance and reduce their self-belief and grades as a result. Not too long ago I Skype-coached a student who was just about to do his GCSEs who came to me with terrible anxiety that prevented him from sleeping the night before an exam, experiencing stomach pain, going shaky, feeling faint, sweating, and unable to eat breakfast, leading him, and his performance into a vicious circle.

After three online sessions where we worked on his inner coach, utilising his key strengths, visualisation, affirmative thinking and stress release techniques he sat his exams with confidence, focus and courage. This really shows the power of our mindsets and how important mindsets are. I was incredibly proud when I heard the news from his parents late Aug that their son had got all 9s and 8s in his exams! That is my true reward. Because I know that this 16-year-old boy has a new earned mindset that will improve his confidence, courage and success, not just in exams, but for life!

To learn more about Performance Coaching, please see our website here.

Demystifying the 11+

By | Exam Preparation | No Comments
11+ pre-test common entrance exam admissions scholarship

The 11+ Common Pre-Test refers to the set of online, multiple-choice tests set for the Independent Schools Examinations Board (ISEB). They are taken when a pupil is in Year 6 or 7, at a computer, and are adaptive, getting harder as students show that they have mastered a topic. This two-and-a-half hour exam includes Maths, English Non-Verbal and Verbal reasoning, and is for entrance into independent schools such as St Edward’s School and Radley College.

For more information see the ISEB website here.

The 11+ Entrance Test is different for each school, so it is best to visit their individual websites to check for specific entrance requirements. Usually, they will include Maths, English, Non-Verbal and Verbal reasoning. Having sat the test, successful candidates are then invited for an interview. This is the case for schools such as St Helen and St Katharine School, Magdalen College School and Oxford High School.

Oxford Tutors is running an 11+ and ISEB Common Pre-Test Preparation Course in north Oxford during October half term. We have highly experienced teachers who are well-versed in preparing children for these exams, who can assess your child and give them individual guidance on how to improve their performance through practice and gain confidence.

If you have any questions or would like to book a place, please click here or call 01865 655660. We would be happy to help!

— Laura Nall, 11+ Specialist,

A few 11+ taster questions to whet your appetite:

Verbal reasoning

Give TWO words of FIVE or more letters that can be made out of the letters in the word SUBJUNCTIVE. You can use a letter as often as it appears in the word and may use the letters in any order (e.g. CUBES).


Here are some patterns made from tiles:

11+ Maths Common Entrance
  • How many grey tiles are there in the 8th pattern?

  • There is a pattern number with 40 white tiles. Which pattern number is it?

Sleep: the key ingredient

By | Exam Preparation | No Comments
Sleep Exam technique Oxford Tutors Revision

Unlocking Student Success: the Key Ingredient

A new era in education has arrived: students of all ages are experiencing the effects of ever-increasing academic pressure. More frequent assessment, chasing ‘target’ grades, added competition for university places, and a highly competitive employment market are just a few of the demands placed upon young people.
Students must also shoulder the experience of their wider school life, and the world facing students beyond the school gate or the front door of home. It is a complex world, a difficult world and it is widely documented just how difficult students can find this living experience.
What does the added pressure mean? Quite often the answer is long-term steady disengagement with the education process, reduced performance and outcomes, and deteriorating well-being. As a result, educators are constantly looking for ways to appease these experiences by exploring ‘new’ teaching methods, offering ‘support classes’ or increasing teaching contact time. Perhaps the real solution is something more obvious and presents itself right in front of our own eyes … or behind closed eyes?
Sleep is more important than you think. While we know the all humans need sleep to keep us healthy, happy and functioning at our best, too often we get far too little of it and spend our lives compromising it. Sleep for students is especially important, as in general, they have busy days at school, run around with friends, attending ‘extra’ classes or activities, doing their homework, or keeping up with their social lives. By the end of the day, their body needs a break. Sleep allows children’s bodies to rest up in preparation for tackling the next day. It is also worth understanding that a lack of sleep does not just leave energy stores low, but even one night of poor sleep can trigger a negative hormonal response such as elevating cortisol, the stress hormone. We should perhaps view our bodies like a car; the ‘petrol tank’ is full at the beginning of the day and empty by the end of the day, so refuelling every night is essential for proper development and optimal day-to-day functioning.
A child’s brain needs sleep so that he or she can:
  • remember what he/she learns
  • pay attention and concentrate
  • solve problems and think of new ideas
A child’s body needs sleep so that:
  • his / her muscles, bones and skin can grow and develop
  • his / her muscles, skin and other parts can rejuvenate and heal
  • his / her body can stay healthy and fight sickness

Understanding Sleep Cycles

STAGE 1 & 2    You fall asleep but are not yet in a deep sleep.
STAGE 3    You are in a deep sleep.  Your breathing and heart rate slow down and your body is still.
STAGE 4    Your brain is active and you dream. Your eyes move beneath your eyelids known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. This sleep cycle is repeated 5 or 6 times during the night.

How can you promote a ‘sleep optimal’ routine?

  • Ensure that your child goes to bed at the same time every night, this helps his / her body get into a routine.
  • Ensure that your child follows a bedtime routine that is calming, such as taking a warm bath or reading and avoid activities that will stimulate the senses.
  • Limit your child’s intake of foods and drinks that contain caffeine. These include some sodas and other common drinks, like ice tea.
  • Do not allow your child to have a TV in his / her room. Research shows that kids who have one in their rooms sleep less. If you have a TV, turn it off when it’s time to sleep.
  • Don’t allow your kids to watch scary TV shows or movies close to bedtime. For obvious reasons, these types of movies can make it difficult to fall asleep.
  • Ensure that beds are for sleeping — not for doing homework, reading, playing games, or talking on the phone. That way, they will train their bodies to associate their bed with sleep.
Sleep exam techniques Oxford Tutors revision skills
Andy Dalgleish ( is an experienced teacher of Geography and an accomplished sportsman.