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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:48 pm 

Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 1:05 pm
Posts: 3953
Location: Reading
Please note, Kendrick Have changed to CEM for September 2015 entry. Therefore the information on how to prepare for GL VR and NVR has been removed and replaced with a link to info on CEM. Other parts have been changed to suit.
If you think I've missed changing something that needs updating please let me know.

I started writing this to help a friend who has a DD a year younger than mine, who asked for a 'Duffers' guide, so I started writing one. I realised quite quickly that I actually had learnt a lot on the journey, so there was a lot to say. I decided to write it as a general guide that I could also post here, so more people could benefit. Note though, that this is based on my own experience and I have no doubts that there will be some people who disagree with some of this. That's fine, everyone is different, please remember I did this to help others on this site, just as others have helped me.
(When this is was originally written it was mainly concerned with the Kendrick test, it will now also apply to other Berkshire schools and some points are applicable to whatever school or schools you are thinking of applying to.)

The Beginning Bit
First of all, realise that your DD needs to be bright, correctly prepared and to some extent lucky on the day.

The bright bit.
Is your DD bright enough. Not just bright enough to get a good enough score test to get a place, but bright enough to cope once there.
Take a long hard look at your DD, would Kendrick suit her, does she want to go? Will the journey to school be an easy one? (I'm still shocked how many parents don't think about the school journey before applying)
How is she doing at school? Ask advice from her teachers, but be prepared to take with a pinch of salt. (My DDs year 4 teacher said she was more than capable of getting into Kendrick and that it would suit her better than our good catchment comprehensive, however her year 5 teacher didn't think she was). Being level 5 or at least close by the end of year 5 in her Sats is probably a good indication.

The prepared bit
The thing a lot of parents don't realise is that it is not just about being bright. (It should be, but it isn't) The test is also a measure of how well you, as a parent, research what needs to be done to prepare your DD for the test. If you are reading this, then that's a big step in the right direction.
You also need to prepare your DD mentally and emotionally to deal with any pressure they feel and prepare them for whatever the result is. They need to be motivated. If they don't actually want to go, then it's going to be difficult to get them to do any work. You know your DD better than anyone else, so you know best how to do this.

The Luck bit.
Out of your hands. Its all down to what questions come up, how many apply etc. If your DD is bright enough and well prepared, then luck becomes less of a factor. Two of my DD's least favourite types of VR questions didn't come up. However, if they had, she would have been fine, she could do them.

The preparation bit in more detail.

Make sure you check exam dates, deadlines for getting applications in, any changes to admissions criteria, designated areas, test types etc. as these are always subject to change. (The year my DD did the test was the first year that Kendrick had a catchment area. The test was earlier than previous years, so the deadline for submitting the application take the exam was early too.)
IT IS UP TO YOU TO MAKE SURE YOU GET THIS RIGHT! You will find this info on the school website. (You have got the school website bookmarked haven't you?) The info is usually posted here too.

When to start work
Depends on your individual circumstances and DD. This could be little and often over a year or so, or more intense over a few months/weeks before. However I personally don't think you need to be spending an hour a day for a year. If you do, then you need to question whether your DD is actually bright enough to cope should she get in. Remember that they are still children and should be enjoying life.

We did about half an hour a week tops, but DD does lots of reading.
Some of her friends only started preparing over the summer holidays but did a bit more work, and were still successful. (So don't panic if you have started late.)

Using a tutor
I can't really comment. We didn't use one, I felt comfortable working with DD myself. None of DD's friends used a tutor either, though a couple tried, unsuccessfully, to find one. If you do use one, make sure they know what they need to do and have tutored girls for Kendrick before. It is still important to check what work your DD is doing. Don't assume they will know the right things to teach. Just because you are paying someone else to tutor, it doesn't mean you should leave the tutor completely responsible.
The choice to use one depends on whether you feel competent to DIY and the relationship between you and your DD. Will she sit down and work with you happily or is it going to be like pulling teeth? Can you afford a tutor? Can you actually find one? Will you still end up doing work with them anyway (the tutor is bound to give homework). Do you have the patience?

Bear in mind that the test is changing and the tutor may not have any experience in tutoring for CEM exams.
The nitty gritty bit

For info on CEM see this thread
And this one

And for NVR specifically

Patricia's useful vocab list.

CEM tips, along with some vocab lists.

Some idea of what the exams look like in other areas can be found here. (These are just an idea of format, I believe the real thing is more difficult).

Buckinghamshire familiarisation paper here, again the real thing will be harder.

http://www.buckscc.gov.uk/media/1303024 ... -14513.pdf

For materials, books etc, the EPE shop for CEM can be found here

Note that CEM do not publish any practice materials of their own, unlike GL.


Existing CEM threads will slowly be moved here over time, so hopefully this will become a one stop shop, making it easier for you to find information.

There are other threads concerning CEM around. Since we did the Kendrick test before CEM was introduced I know next to nothing about it. :oops: hopefully these threads will help. (If you come across any other useful threads worth adding here, let me know.)

The Exam prep bit
Being bright and being familiar with the question types isn't necessarily enough, they need to have exam technique too.
Make sure they know not to spend too long on one question. If they can't do it, mark the question and move on. Come back to it later. Remember though that once they have completed a section and time is up they cannot go back.
Apparently the instructions are on a CD which is played during the exam. This gives instructions and timing warnings. I'm told that one of the instructions is 'do not attempt to answer questions you do not know the answer to'. Ensure your child knows to ignore this instruction. The test is mainly multiple choice and every question is worth a guess of they don't know the answer. It also helps them ensure they continue to put the marks in the right box for the right question. Leaving a gap may mean they put the mark for the next question in the wrong place.
Make sure they know to check they have done all the questions and not missed out pages.
Make sure they know to take care that they have put the mark in the right box on the answer sheet for the question
Make sure that if they can't do a question, they at least make an educated (or even uneducated) guess if they can.
Make sure they read the question carefully.
Make sure you try and keep them calm, well rested, plenty of sleep the week before, do easy papers in the week before the test, if any at all, to keep the confidence up.

They need to have the mental stamina to cope with both tests. My DD found it useful to visualise what was going to happen in the test. So she imagined being in the classrooms at Kendrick (helps if they have been to at least one open evening). Between papers she thought about what she would do, like eating her snack, going to the toilet. This may or may not be useful to your DD, but it helped her. Make sure they know there's likely to be distractions in the test, from minor ones like dropping of pencils and coughing, to possible panic attacks and crying. The school is near a hospital, so expect sirens too. They should be ignoring everything that goes on around them in the test. If they know things like this might happen, it will be easier for them to deal with it if it does. The girls take the exam in the classrooms in groups of about 25, not in a big hall.
We didn't bother doing a mock test, but your DD may find it useful.

In terms of what do you need to be getting on practise papers, a lot depends on how many take the test and what month your DD was born. As the test is changing it is difficult to say what scores are required, but reading other areas that use CEM, it will not be the 90+% that has been needed in recent years. The test is supposedly hard and time pressured, they are unlikely to finish. Make sure your DD is prepared for that.

The Timing bit
I have removed this section as I have no idea about timing. Expect the tests to be very time pressured though, if feedback from other regions suing CEM is anything to go by.

The day of the test bit
Parents, this bit is just for you. Make sure you read the letter from Kendrick about the test. It will tell you which entrance to go to to drop off your DD and where to pick them up from. It will tell you what time to drop off and pick up. It will also warn you that there is no parking at the school.
Make sure your DD has several pencils and a good rubber, a drink, a snack and some tissues, in a clear plastic bag and the necessary forms.
It is important to read this letter and take note. Some obviously don't.
I saw several parents trying to drive into the wrong entrance on the day. I also saw several wondering where they could park and if they had to pay, ten minutes after they were supposed to be at school. (Traffic wardens patrol the area, you have been warned) Afterwards I saw parents waiting at the wrong entrance to pick up their DDs.
Make sure you plan ahead. Do you know the best way to get there, the best place to park if driving? Are you planning on using the bus or train? Check traffic news before you set off.
Arriving early and knowing where to go reduces your stress and therefore theirs.

Some parents asked about what to wear. The test is on a Saturday, so clothes they feel comfortable in. In previous years, the test was on a school day so most but not all wore school uniform.

Aftermath part one -after the exam
Plan something special after the exam, but before the results. Several of DDs friends were taking the exam, so we took them all out to tea after. Reward their efforts, they have worked hard. After that, back to normality.
Try not to overanalyse how it went. Your DD could well think she did really well, but actually misunderstood the question. Alternatively, she could think she has completely messed up because of nerves, when in fact she has done fine. Neither of you can change how its gone, so time to move on and have some fun.

Aftermaths part two - results
You will probably be more stressed than they are. We discussed beforehand what the outcomes might be and what would happen, what Plan B choice of school might be etc. It might be better to have these discussions before, rather than after you get the results. Again, you know your DD best.

There are three outcomes. DD got enough to get a place, DD didn't get enough to get a place or DD might have done enough, but you are essentially in limbo until 1st March or maybe beyond. Regardless, you now have to remember to fill in the CAF with your choices. Its time to decide where you actually want to apply, especially if your DD took several 11+ tests, and what order to place them.

October 2012 651 took the test. Cut off reported on the 1st March 2013 was 113. (Not all those with 113 got offered places). Waiting list moved by 4 places by September.

October 2013 776 took the test. Cut off reported on the 3rd March 2014 was 114. Think 4-5 places from the waiting list (including 1 at October half term)

September 2014, 1108 in total took the test, but approx half sat the test at one of the Slough schools and many were not in catchment. Cutoff reported on the 2nd March was 114.99 (the highest score on the waiting list). Waiting list only moved 1 place before the summer break. Note that this was the first CEM year

If you need help to work out your DDs chances of getting a place, this should help.
As should this, http://kendrickcalculator.weebly.com/ (does the working out for you). NOTE, it is not accurate. Using the calculator, I tried to calculate my DDs rank. However, when I was able to see the full list of results, her rank was quite a bit higher (by more than 15 places :shock: ).

No one can accurately predict the cut off score, especially now students can tick a box and sit the test in Slough.
If you have qualified and want a place PUT IT ON YOUR CAF!

However it does depend on how many actually apply for a place and how many are in catchment. You will need to know how many took the exam. This is usually on the results letter. No doubt someone on the forum will have already asked or worked what sort of scores are required, but if in doubt, ask, and someone will help.

On results day, your DD might want to open the envelope herself, or it might not of crossed her mind. My DD hadn't thought about it, but wanted a thumbs up or down as she came out of school. I was prepared to whisk her away quickly if the result wasn't what we hoped, but had also prepared her to be sensitive to others if she had done well and others hadn't.

As is it was on the day, only one of her friends also had their (good) results when they came out of school, with others not yet received the post or DDs that wanted to open them at home. The following day DD was sensitive to others, and only told them she had got enough to get in if asked how she had done. One of her friends had not done well and practised saying at home 'I didn't get enough and I don't want to talk about it' the night before.

If your DD is the only one from school that took the test this may be less of an issue, but then she will have the prospect of being the only one from her school going to Kendrick. This might be a bit daunting, but reassure her that many girls will be the only one from their school who get in.

Thankfully for us there has not been any falling out at school (though I think there are some girls who have distanced themselves a little , but they weren't close friends to start with) However this is a strong possibility whatever results your DD gets, whether or not others have taken the test. Be prepared to deal with it. I think in part it's the dawning realisation that they are going to be moving on soon to various schools.
Also remember it may not just be the friends at school you have to deal with , but other outside activities, such as dancing, guides etc. that you have to bear in mind.

Remember, don't panic. If you have questions this forum is the place to have them answered. Note that I edit this to add stuff as and when I remember the little things or a topic comes up that I think is appropriate. If the is anything you think I haven't covered please let me know. If you are in another area or know about another school and want to write a similar document I'm happy for you to use this as a template. :D

Last edited by Tinkers on Fri Apr 25, 2014 1:37 pm, edited 31 times in total.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 2:00 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2011 10:00 pm
Posts: 5348
Location: RBK
Tinkers, you have written a marvelous guide for Kendrick, most of which applies to other tests as well.

On the falling out bit, unfortunately, it is not only some children who distance themselves from the children who pass, it is often the parents too..... sure children needs to be prepared for this aspect as well soon after the tests.

Last edited by tiffinboys on Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 2:07 pm 

Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 1:05 pm
Posts: 3953
Location: Reading
Thanks Tiffinboys.

It is sad to hear that parents behave this way, but when you hear of things like that you realise why the children behave like that too.

I have been quite fortunate that the mums of my DDs close friends who haven't got in have not distanced themselves form those who have. The girls have been talking about how they are going to stay in touch with each other when they move on. We still all sit on the same bench in the park, and continue to put the world to rights. (Except when it is raining. Then we sensible enough to go home!)

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 2:25 pm 

Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:44 am
Posts: 1383
Location: Reading
That is a great summary and pretty much mirrors our DIY approach.

We did around 30/45 mins a week from January and focussed on VR as there seemed to be more materials available to help. DD seemed to 'get' NVR without as much prep. I worked full time for most of the summer with DD either at holiday club or Grandparents so very little was done during this time in our house but if you have the summer free then you could start later.

10 min tests were a great way to do 'something' when homework/swimming/brownies/stage coach/etc got in the way.

We did the Sutton Mock for the experience, and also a local Mock which was supposed to be Kendrick targetted - I think Sutton was more useful.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 3:38 pm 

Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:51 am
Posts: 861
Excellent work Tinkers, and excellent guide for Kendrick wannabes :)

Dd did about 30 mins max for about 6 months followed up with a few NFER/GL practice tests in the last month (purchased from WHSmiths). We used Bond books for prep and tried to encourage lots of reading. No mock exams attended as we’d never thought of it until it was too late, but they are not a bad idea.

Dd did well (I think :? ) with simple home learning & no external private tutor. In contrast, 2 other girls we know of who had tutors for at least a year, attended crash courses in Slough over summer, went to/go to a ‘Japanese English/Maths Learning centre) did not make the 109 cutoff. I think the pressure of it all gets too much on the day for some :(

The only other thing I’d say is you should be aware Kendrick test is ‘Standard’ format not ‘Multiple choice’ like other schools.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 4:02 pm 

Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 1:05 pm
Posts: 3953
Location: Reading
sonasona wrote:
Dd did well (I think :? ) with simple home learning & no external private tutor. In contrast, 2 other girls we know of who had tutors for at least a year, attended crash courses in Slough over summer, went to/go to a ‘Japanese English/Maths Learning centre) did not make the 109 cutoff. I think the pressure of it all gets too much on the day for some

Imho, if your DD is bright enough, she will do well on minimal tutoring, as long as she is familiar with the question types. I know some will disagree with that. If they are not that bright to start with, then tutition either won't help or will result in a girl getting a place who is going to struggle once there.

sonasona wrote:
The only other thing I’d say is you should be aware Kendrick test is ‘Standard’ format not ‘Multiple choice’ like other schools.

The sentence in red mentions standard form. :wink: Of course this might change in future years. I doubt they will go to multiple choice, but they might add maths and/or English, or change from GL.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 4:47 pm 

Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:51 am
Posts: 861
Agreed Tinkers, I really should learn to ‘Read the question properly’ :lol:

I’ve heard before a rumour of Maths being introduced at Kendrick (think I posted this before but nobody else had heard) , maybe they’ll go to 2-stage testing like Tiffin girls in the future?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 6:45 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 17, 2006 8:54 pm
Posts: 1769
Location: caversham
An excellent summary, very useful, we can point new members at this. :)

Remember, don't panic. If you have questions this forum is the place to have them answered

Sound advice I'd add, panic early and panic often get all the panic out of the way. :D Role play the whole event, I discovered very late (but fixed it) that DD wasn't confident about filling in the 'basic' information on the front of the exam paper, kids don't usually have to write their DOB.

Learn all the techniques, link them together in papers and finally focus on exam psychology, DD doing her best on the day. :D

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:26 pm 

Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:06 pm
Posts: 12

Just about started using this forum and it is a real eye opener.

@Tinkers - Your guide is an wonderful place to start and thank you for that.

My dd will be taking up the 11+ in sep 13 and i can see myself coming to this forum very regularly.


PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:29 pm 

Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 1:05 pm
Posts: 3953
Location: Reading
Thank you and good luck.

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