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 Post subject: English - major disaster
PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2012 4:59 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2012 2:29 pm
Posts: 185
DS doing well in VR and Maths but English is a train wreck (35-40% territory on first actual paper in mock exam). Am totally despondent and considering throwing in the towel. Been crying on the inside all afternoon.

I think we need lots and lots of exam practice. Not sure just bond papers are going to work as the format is so different.

Does anyone have any ideas of how to find suitable practice papers? Is there an English equivalents to IPS/Tutors/Lucky Gecko/Bright Sparks list?

He just doesn't seem to be able to affectively decode Dickens/Shakespeare/Hardy etc etc. Ironically scored 96% on school exam comprehension but presume it was a million times easier.

Help, please.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2012 5:05 pm 
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Hi toolate,

Do not worry, we were all in the same boat. I am not saying it will be similar to last year, but if it is 12 marks are given for punctuation and 12 marks for spellings that's 48% of the English paper. Try to work on those two sections and a couple here and there will get you through.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2012 5:08 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2012 11:42 pm
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Try the VisuTeach papers, they are very close to the Essex English format. As the others say, spellings and grammar, the English is hard work, everyone has the same experience, keep going, I'm sure it will be fine.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2012 5:20 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 12:47 pm
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Location: Essex
Try not to panic. Easier said than done, I know. Some DC who gain GS places have rotten scores in one of the papers so it's not the end of the world. I think Bond is quite good but you could try making your own papers up. You can get hold of copyright free texts from project Guttenberg. Last year wasn't from a classic text so who knows what it will be this year. Visuteach is supposed to sell Essex style papers. I haven't used them but they may be worth a try.

What did you use for the mock? Different texts suit some children better than others. Some extracts are definitely not boy-friendly. Remember that DS will only be competing with other boys. Try talking through papers before he writes his answers. It's not fair testing but it could help him consolidate the skills needed.

You still have a lot of time. Good luck!


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2012 5:39 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:56 am
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English is always the hard one in my experience. You still have 2+ months to go - plenty of time to pull the scores up. DD1 got a similar score on her first past paper, despite being excellent at English. things improved quickly from there and in the actual exam she got over 80%. It's a question of understanding what is being asked and as others have said focussing on the grammar / spelling.


Don't be despondent, you have plenty of time to work on building skills.

Good luck.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2012 5:58 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2012 2:29 pm
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You are all kind to encourage me.

I think it is the wake up call we both needed. I see now I have brought this on us as I have sort of neglected the English, as I haven't really been sure how to tackle it. This website has given such a wonderful roadmap for the VR that it was easiest just to pursue that, and hope the English would sort of pull itself together IDC. Big mistake, I see now.

Thank you for the suggestions. Any others will be very gratefully received. The grammar/punctuation we can handle, but spelling is a dark cave for us too....


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2012 12:40 pm 
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Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2011 10:02 pm
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Most DCs will have stronger and weaker subjects and on the whole given VR counts highly, better to have English as your weaker one than VR.

You have received some good advice, but mine would be not to do the recent CSSE past papers too early and also to try and pick up some marks on spelling and punctuation.

Visuteach is good practice as someone esle has said, and they seem closest to CSSE, but Bond is not a bad build up to practice general comprehension skills

Finally, CSSE seem to specialise in finding stinker passages that many older people would struggle with, but if it is a stinker for one, it's a stinker for all.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2012 2:31 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:41 pm
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You should be careful about looking at the raw scores for past CSSE papers as it is all about how well a child does compared to other children taking the same exam. Based on the scores posted in this forum, which I believe is much higher than the norm, the average score for English was 67% for 2010 entry, 51 % in 2011 entry and 58% in 2012 entry. Generally speaking girls tend to score better than boys in English so what you may consider a low score for your DS may not necessarily be the case.

As other people have already commented, the easier marks are in punctuation and spelling. When I was preparing my DS, I used Bond. Our plan was that he would get an average-ish score in English and his scores would be better in Maths and VR, which is moreorless what happened.

Also, note that English is the first paper taken in the day and it is important that students are not put-off by its difficulty and recover their composure for the subsequent papers.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2012 4:07 pm 
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Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2010 12:20 pm
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aang wrote:
Also, note that English is the first paper taken in the day and it is important that students are not put-off by its difficulty and recover their composure for the subsequent papers.


This is a good and important point to make.

When my DS sat his 11+ nearly three years ago, he said the English was really difficult and couldn't answer the first question. Not a great start I know but, luckily, he didn't lose his confidence and managed to do well enough overall to get into grammar.


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