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PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2016 7:23 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2015 1:02 am
Posts: 41
Hi all,

My son going to sit Bham and Walsall exams this year, and we have just started to practice test papers available from shops. I am bit confused about what should be a reasonable score at this stage.

In Ashkraft, Bond and CGP CEM style test papers, he scores around 50-60% in maths, comprehension and nonverbal sections. But struggles more in synonyms and antonyms sections with less than 40%. I have tried to give him some word lists to learn each week, but synonyms and antonyms score don't seem to improve that much.

I am bit worried about such low scores, is it reasonable? Or is it too late to improve and we have no chance? Parents who have gone through DIY and tests previously please write from your experiences.

Also do the mock exams vary from these test papers that much?

That you all.

PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2016 7:42 pm 

Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2014 10:24 pm
Posts: 630
Location: Petts Wood, Bromley, Kent
In our CEM region (Bexley) you don't need to score too highly and someone posted something about a smudge over 50% being a typical score for a pass. It very much varies by region so I may be throwing you a red herring. DD was scoring 85% before the tests and got within a few points of a top 180 score (out of 5,500 sitters). I got the raw scores from Bexley and the key to her success in CEM was her naturally good vocab which I think is hard to force. We didn't formally learn any word lists as she sort or knew them anyway through natural reading and conversation.

Saying that the mock tests she did in the winter before the tests were lower than what she achieved closer to the test dates, but generally if we took timing out of it she did well in winter and closer to the tests she could just answer more questions in a shorter space of time so the emphasis was on timing between winter and September rather than what she knew.

Most children will improve over time, there is no harm in trying and if you just need to get a pass rather than a superselective score you have an eve better chance.

PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2016 9:49 pm 

Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:08 pm
Posts: 1239
Below are the actual average raw scores and average percentages for all cohort sitting the KE 2015 Birmingham test broken down by subject area.

Verbal Reasoning: 53.82/110 (48.92%)

Non Verbal: 29.43/53 (55.5%)

Numerical Reasoning (Maths): 22.22/44 (50.5%)

So last year in order to achieve a total standardised score of 200 a child needed approximately 50%. To qualify for most KE grammars I would reliably guess you will need anything between 60 to 70% raw score, and the higher percentage required for the likes of CHB.

It's quite difficult to correlate the CEM style test paper scores with the actual score the child is likely to achieve. I do remember PP collating some figures a while back in one his posts.

PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2016 10:48 am 

Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2012 8:38 am
Posts: 1043
Location: West Midlands / warks border
Reading is key, but I know some boys aren't as keen to do this.

Start him reading now, any words he comes across that's he's not sure of he needs to write them down.

When he's finished reading, he can then look the word up in a dictionary and then write a sentence with that word in. He could also then find out synonyms and antonyms and write other sentences.

Some suggested books

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's stone
Goodnight Mr Tom
The Secret Garden
Tom's midnight garden
The Borrowers
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Danny Champion of the World
The Lion, The Witch and the wardrobe

My daughter read 8 of these over last summer, as well as Jaqueline Wilson and Enid Blyton books (these were more girly books)

So what about the Maze Runner series and Percy Jackson?

Start him reading now, as this will really help with the VR.

Also if you search on line you can find a few CEM practice papers for all subjects, along with multiple choice answer sheets and answers.

PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2016 8:58 pm 

Joined: Fri Oct 24, 2014 10:11 am
Posts: 47
I think the CEM test papers are tough so those seem like pretty good scores to me. We only really used the Bond Books but they do different levels of those based on age. It may be worth trying those if you haven't already, we found them slightly easier than the test papers, and for the VR it may be worth getting a slightly lower age book to help practice the techniques and then he can build up from there. We did this with maths for my oldest daughter and it helped a lot. Agree with others re reading.

PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2016 9:46 pm 

Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:08 pm
Posts: 1239
nervousmom wrote:
Reading is key

Agreed! Just read, read and read more. And cram as many new words as you can, especially the ones that have already appeared in the previous papers. Some of these are recycled quite frequently.

Having been through this process twice, I wouldn't personally waste money buying any CEM style VR books apart from the comprehension ones. The CEM VR section primarily contains synonyms/antonyms, Cloze and comprehension exercises with comprehension only amounting to around 15 to 20% of the overall VR score. So the recipe to success is really word learning and reading. With the new computer marking scheme in place the only easiest and viable Cloze type exercise children can be tested on is using Word Banks and this was the case in 2015 test. So this again really comes down to word learning rather than practising a lot of Cloze exercises using the CEM material. I believe familiarisation and practice does help with Missing letter Cloze but not necessarily with the Word Bank Cloze.

PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2016 5:52 pm 

Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2015 6:44 am
Posts: 1425
I happy to share CEM bond placement tests scores that my DD1 did They have four levels 1-4, but I think Level 3 is probably the nearest comparable, so I'll leave out 1,2,4 scores.

In October 14 - so the equivalent of October 15 if your doing it this year My daughter was scoring at level 3

English Comp 80%
Verbal Reasoning 70%
Non Verbal Reasoning 73%
Maths 33%

Since I did the pivot table myself and then analysed the detailed results, this caused us to launch into a massive Massive maths rectification programme. The detailed analysis showed at the time she had little exposure to volume, area, %'s, Fractions, including Conversions, Scales e.g. temperature and negative numbers. In the preps we were told that they would have done this by that point. So we moaned about being let down by school (to ourselves) and quickly got together work on these areas, home tutoring.

The final outcome on Walsall was decent, not so good on KE, but hopefully a scrape.

We got 360 for walsall

113 NVR
117 VR
130 Maths.

In retrospect we should not have panicked so much about the maths. She was solid on timetables and speedy, so we should have done some introductory work, but I regret not doing enough on, speed, exam technique and as much reading and vocabulary work as possible. Every bit of evidence I have seen is that avid readers nail these exams.

To note see 33% on Maths transformed into a 130 section on the real exam 9 months later.

I would urge you follow MSD advice. The words side of thing and speed are more important (but don't forget about Maths).

Final observation the school curriculum is important and they should be getting around 4A / 5C in old money by now, if you not getting that, time to have a major review of the last couple of school reports. Hope that helps

PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2016 7:47 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2015 1:02 am
Posts: 41
Thanks everyone for such nice replies. Much helpful and much appreciated!

@Petitpois: which 'CEM bond placement tests' are you referring to? can you give the link please?

My son is a 'good' reader and normally loves books, he has read most of the Harry Potter, Roald Dahl, David Walliams and Lord of the Rings. Currently reading CS Lewis Narnia series. But I have a different sort of problem with his reading- he tries to read too fast! It seems he is just interested to get the story, and he does get it most of the time. But he does not seem to pick up much vocabularies. This habit affected his maths too- he normally reads the questions too fast and tries to answer the questions without much thinking, making silly mistakes a lot! So I had to stop his reading for some time and concentrated on maths skills. Now let him read again (Narnia series), this time asked him to go slow. Lets see if that helps...He is generally well behaved and mature and quite keen about 11+.

Unfortunately, his school is hopeless, hardly teaches anything! I don't know if its worth sending my younger ones to that school at all, but have little choice! I am running out of ideas.

Thanks again for all your times, very nice and helpful replies!

PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2016 11:20 pm 

Joined: Sun May 09, 2010 12:04 pm
Posts: 2607
Hi Wise, :D

An idea for your son to pick up more words when he reads would be for both of you to take the habit to have your 'special little time together' each night snuggled in bed: either each of you take turns to read a page, or each one of you take one or two characters... This will allow you to pick up the difficult words and verify his good understanding... Also, from time to time, you could him ask him questions on the text, especially on inferences...
I spend many years doing this with my DS and in fact, I am missing it so much that I have been volunteering for several months now to take care of a year 4 child who used to have some problem with his reading. Of course, we are not snugged in bed, we are just comfortably installed in his parents' living room, but we are having our lovely time reading together (I love it!!!) :D .

After the summer during which I could read with him often and then just a weekly session since back to school last September, he has moved up during the first term from bottom group to two groups higher up in the class (in English) :D :D This shows how reading good quality books help a child to progress! :D (his former 'reading diet' was to read just Horrid Henry books! :x )

PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2016 6:28 pm 

Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2015 6:44 am
Posts: 1425
Jane Eyre advice is sensible. Oh how I wish I could have got my DD to read such an epic as Lord of the Rings. Wise, have a look at the Bond website they won't let me post a link.

One other thing on the words, Synonym flash cards are a reasonable investment in my view, we play simple games with them. There is a list of about 200 key words someone posted, so its definitely worth having them.

Remember the small time pressured sections, will build up exam stamina and resilience. Also think about techniques. Elimination, guessing, moving on if stuck. My kids were initially scared to do this, so teaching them good habits including time management will all contribute.

I wish I could bottle the formula and get it to work on DD2, but it is far easier said than done.

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