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PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2016 8:06 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2016 12:01 pm
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Hi all,

We are looking to apply to selective/super selectives (Alleyns, Dulwich College and aspirationally Brighton College) and I want to help ds with English, he is starting year 6 now. His class teacher says he is top of his year for English but we tried doing a couple of past papers and he was very slow in the comprehension and barely got 40-50% which I'm sure is nowhere near enough.

Can anyone recommend which are the best past papers/books to buy to prepare, ideally for these Indies or similar? I have bought one Bond 10 minute practice book so far and that's it. Any advice gratefully received!


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2016 8:26 pm 
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Location: Petts Wood, Bromley, Kent
If your DS is joining Y6 are looking at a Y7 place with the exam this coming January or are you looking at Y9 places? Is he in a prep at the moment? Dulwich is an amazing school but the test is tough. If not in a prep then the maths is likely to be quite a bit beyond what he has learned in school. DD sat state grammar and an indie test last year. The bond books are OK for the likes of Bexley or Kent grammar tests but not for the Independents or St Olaves. Try sample papers from the likes of Sevenoaks school. Also bear in mind that selection at Independent is only partly on the test but also based on the recommendation from their current school and also an interview.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2016 8:30 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2009 1:04 pm
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I used the ISEB book here https://www.amazon.co.uk/English-Practi ... 0903627698 but it doesn't seem to be sold anymore. The ISEB now recommend http://www.galorepark.co.uk/Product?Pro ... 1471849275 and http://www.galorepark.co.uk/Product?Pro ... 1471869044. The book I have had 25 comprehensions, but these have fewer.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2016 9:11 pm 
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Thanks both that's really helpful. Ladymuck, can I ask what school/schools your dc applied for? Will definitely get hold of the galore park book.

Pettswood - ds is in a prep but I feel like they are a bit optimistic re his abilities. His class teacher who is also English teacher loves him to bits and I honestly think she has overrated him as some of the work she says is amazing has words missing and wouldn't be clear to someone who didn't know him. He is also a v reluctant reader and would much rather spend the evenings making minecraft youtube videos (which dh encourages!!) Doing these past papers has made me feel like I was right to be concerned as English teacher said he was 'top of the year' but I find that hard to believe if he is only managing 50% in practice tests! Re Maths I think he is ok because they will hopefully have covered the curriculum in time. English and verbal reasoning I think need work because he did pretty badly on the practice papers we did and clearly didn't know the meanings of words I'd assume he would know!


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2016 9:55 pm 
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Of the ones on your list he sat Alleyns (we were looking at co-ed so didn't do Dulwich). In that paper the particular trick is that there are some "longer" questions worth 8-10 marks or so which is essentially the creative writing/literary analysis part of the paper. Dulwich I think is closer to the ISEB norm. Brighton College is different again as it is a multiple choice paper.

Reading, and in particular reading out loud, tends to be emphasised at prep schools to aid comprehension. Being read to, also works, and sometime reluctant readers can be persuaded by audiobooks.

Does your school have a track record of sending boys to these schools? Ie can they accurately assess his level?


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2016 10:09 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2009 2:01 pm
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Location: Herts
You are right to be concerned. He will be competing against students who have prepared all through the summer for state grammars and whose creative writing and comprehension answers will be way beyond ten minute Bond papers.

Take a long at the Manchester Grammar Comprehension papers and have a go at one of those and the Habs boys papers and the DAO English paper all on their websites. These will give you some idea of the levels that will be expected. DG


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2016 10:42 pm 
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Ladymuck thanks so much for that detailed info! I am absolutely clueless, what is ISEB? His school have a history of getting kids into all sorts of schools - three went to KCS (including with scholarships) out of last years cohort but they were very bright and ds isn't honestly as academic as them, a number also went to Alleyns, Dulwich etc. I just think that honestly his class/English teacher from last year was looking at him through rose-tinted spectacles. I know that some of the mums feel she has favourites and although none have said so to my face I suspect they are thinking of him. I'm biased obviously but ds is a very sweet, caring and friendly chap and I really think that his teacher has basically lost perspective a bit. I've seen ds's creative writing and it's fantastic in terms of actual creativity and use of similes etc, but that's only after you discount spelling errors and the more than occasionally missed out word! I feel like ds has a real resistance to reading - he just doesn't want to do it. His school think he can go for an art scholarship and I can see that - his artwork is really great and he spends an hour or two every day drawing, but I'm pretty sure being great at drawing and a friendly chap won't make up for 50% -ish marks in his English papers!

Thanks Daogroupie - will take a look at Manchester Grammar - have heard they are quite demanding papers. I think worst case scenario we will look at some less academic schools as what I don't want is for him to get a massive shock after being told he stands a chance at Alleyns etc.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2016 10:44 pm 
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Aah thanks ladymuck googled ISEB :) . Any recommendations for resources for ISEB at 11+?


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 6:54 am 
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Galore Park seem to be the ISEB publisher. I think that your main difficulty here is that the 3 schools have quite different papers - with English I think exam technique is important, and your ds needs to be able to gain marks especially on the long answer questions for Alleyns. BC multiple choice is a completely different beast say.

As you only have a term for prep, try the Bond Focus on Comprehension book - this may give some strategies. There is also an ISEB 11+ English Guide. With this little time you may need to rank your schools in order and concentrate your prep on your preferred school.

You have mentioned his English but how is his VR? That can often be used to balance a poor English Mark?


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 7:51 am 
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Thanks so much Ladymuck, I really appreciate all this advice. His VR is strange - he feels it's his weakest subject - much prefers NVR - but at his end of year exams he got 97% (98% in NVR so not much in it). I find this weird because in the comprehensions we did he really didn't seem to understand the meaning of a number of words, which could just be bad luck to some extent but I do feel he doesn't have the level of vocab required for the really academic schools. I think we will focus our attentions on Alleyns as that is what the school consider a good fit for him (we haven't even mentioned BC to them) BC was more on a whim because I went to university in Brighton and have friends there and were considering a move out of London. We liked the liberal ethos/co-ed and being by the sea so thought we'd look into it. At this stage we will focus on the London schools because they are ds's preference anyway as there's at least some possibility his friends will go there!


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