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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 6:38 pm 
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Those of you with DCs that scored highly..240+ what do you think made the difference? I am interested because DS worked pretty hard and was getting decent 90%+ practice scores and I felt he was well prepared. (Although I know he is not great under pressure eg music exam) He scored a decent mark and we are happy he has got his first choice but there were quite a few very high scores recorded here.

This is more out of curiosity because I tutored my DCs and have helped friends DCs so I find the 11+ a bit fascinating (sad I know!)

So is it nerves of steel on the day? A simple case of ability...high IQ,high CATs etc or particularly experienced tutor? Length of training or focus on certain areas such as vocabulary? Be honest I won't think anyone boastful if you say your DCs are very bright.

I hope you all take this in the spirit intended and that is simply I would find it interesting in a theoretical type way (as a teacher) not a competitive way.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:46 am 
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Last edited by FluffyCat on Sun Oct 13, 2013 1:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 11:00 am 
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In theory my two boys have the same IQ as they scored the same high mean CAT score in Y5, putting them in the top 1% of the country. DS1 just scraped over the pass mark for Tommies, DS2 was top 120 for Pates.

What made the difference?

1. Much better preparation. I didn't know what I was doing with DS1, didn't take it seriously enough, sent him for a minimal number of group lessons with a tutor who it transpired taught him the wrong question types. DS2 went to a better tutor for longer and also did 4 sessions of back-to-back mock exams which were invaluable in learning time management.

2. Different personalities. DS1 is more emotional, so found the stress of the exam conditions hard to deal with. DS2 is very resilient. When I asked him how he'd coped with people in his room getting upset, he said he'd pretended he was in a bubble and just ignored everyone around him.

3. More of a focus on exam technique. With DS2 I talked with him a lot about what to do if he turned the paper over and found it much more difficult than expected / much easier than expected / he realised he'd written some of his answers in the wrong place / people in his room started crying or were sick / at break everyone said the first paper was easy and he'd found it difficult / at the 5 minute warning he had 5 questions left to do, 10 questions left, 20 questions left etc. We went over and over this, so it would be second-nature on the day. I spent time doing visualisation exercises with him, imagining the format of the day in advance. I felt like I was preparing my 10 year old to go into battle :cry: but it seemed to do the trick.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 1:00 pm 
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Last edited by FluffyCat on Sun Oct 13, 2013 1:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 3:59 pm 
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My DS got into top 120 for pates. Started preparing in June 2011. He was tutored for once a week throughout and twice a week during summer holidays. We did nothing during the whole week except for the last one week when we did daily challenge of the IPS just to keep the rhythm. His tutor was confident that he ll get good score and so was he. I resisted the temptation to push him and he was too relaxed for the exam hardly thinking of the results. I think keeping the DCs calm and developing confidence is the key.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 7:21 pm 
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Hi - my daughter got 275 for HSFG and is in the top 120 for Pates, which she'll be taking up. It was our first time with the 11+ and we're out of county so we really were new to it. I helped her at home and we honestly deliberately decided not to overdo it and we didn't pay for any tutoring (which I completely understand and respect is a parental choice but we wanted her to get in without heavy coaching so she wouldn't struggle in a grammar school). She started some basic online question types in May and then on and off did some practice papers. We then sat down and worked out which sort of questions always needed more time and which ones she consistently found challenging. She is bright, which certainly helped her confidence, but it was more of the mental approach to taking the exams that she needed help with i.e. to not panic, to not convince herself she'd done terribly and therefore affect her clarity of thought, to contain any frustration and to challenge her assumptions. I honestly think half the battle is staying calm, sticking to time and being logical. She worked out that if she left the time consuming ones to the end, she mentally felt better that she'd done all the rest (apart from the odd one to doublecheck ) so didn't panic that she was spending so much time on the tricky ones while only half way through the whole paper and knew that she could then just concentrate on those. We also worked out that the questions she wasn't certain of, she could apply logic to, discount the options she knew weren't right, know that the examiners often try to throw you off balance and then she nearly always got to the right answer. In mid August, actually once I discovered this forum and worked out which were the best practice papers to buy, she then practiced one or two a week. Even then, a week before the 11+ she was totally fed up with it all and we just let her be.

I don't know if that helps or not - we just did what we felt suited her. She's always read a lot of books so her vocab was strong and then we just talked a lot about opposites, definitions, double meanings of words if any challenging vocab came up.

I would definitely echo others' advice on here which is to try and be as relaxed as possible with your child. Hope that helps. Sorry for the essay but I know that it really helped me to read these forums and glean advice.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 10:27 am 
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Thanks for the replies and PMs. My initial thoughts are that exam technique is a more important aspect to this than I have considered before. If I had to go back (phew all my 3 are done and dusted!) but I would follow the advice from Cairo and other replies to work on keeping calm and focussed at all times if possible and the time factor. Good nerves and a clear head can make the difference. I didn't do back to back practice and my son is a worrier and got a bit distracted in the test so looking back I think some of the tips listed would have helped.

But.. I also think that there is a correlation between top stanine CAT children and the highest 11+ scores. I have never found out my DS CAT score but I believe he is probably not stanine 9.
Please feel free to disagree as I wanted to promote discussion on this but I think it might be true. (obviously on the correlation not DSs CATS! :wink: )

A very bright high CAT scorer still needs good preparation ( I am not one that agrees that able DCs can do it without some preparation whether that be tutor or DIY) and the best combo would be - High CAT + good prep + either natural focus/calm or prep in exam technique.

If you are about to set out on your Y5 prep then make time for test technique nearer test time and maybe knowing CAT score could help give a realistic goal. Feel free to shoot me down on that one.

I know luck can sometimes come into it (the dreaded illness on or near the day)and certain issues such as health and family matters will obviously affect things but on the whole it is not about luck. Reading these replies full of excellent sound advice convinces me of this.
Good times you are right - the advice on the forum is very useful and I hope the replies to this will contribute an prove helpful.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 6:31 pm 
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Hi I would just like to add that some of my sons peers were tutored from last October or from January 2011. I spoke to his tutor we had lined up and totally believed that with her experience and didn't start him till after the Easter holidays. He did one hour a week up to the summer holidays had the summer off and then did practice papers twice a week in September. He was peaking when he took the test whereas some of his peers had peaked a few months before.

His Cat tests were very high and we knew he had the ability but I knew from my days of the 11+ this is NOTHING like they see in primary school nowadays so felt that he needed some help and preparation. He was 2 points from qualifying for Pates top 160 and passed well for crypt, tommies and top 120 for Marling- I am ever so proud of him. He too, did not have a 5 or 1 minute warning and did not manage to guess the last 7 questions on paper 1!!! This would have helped if all the invigilators follow the 5 minute 1 minute warning system as unfair to those children who weren't given the warnings versus those who were!!!

Rant over and thank God it's all over for 2 years before DS2 and then one year more to DS3 - HHHHEEEELLLLPPPPP!!!!! :shock: :lol: :shock: :lol: i've gone hysterical if I don't get committed first!!!


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 9:39 pm 
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Tutoring gets a bad name sometimes imo. I honestly do not think that 11 plus tutoring has anything at all to do with how well a child will do in grammar school. Yes, it does help with vocabulary, as many tutors use words games, etc to help them learn. Other than that, I think tutoring just helps children get familiar and more comfortable with taking the test.
I found my DD's tutor very helpful, especially as it was our first experience with the exam. I don't think a child that isn't tutored would necessarily do any better or worse, but the exam would be much harder for a child who has never had experience with certain types of questions.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 7:46 am 
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I don't know of a single child that has passed without any sort of tutoring be it home, professional or self tutoring.

The difference I perceive is down to motivation. Most of the high scores and their parents really want to get Pates as an option. Especially if you live in Cheltenham or near it. They also have an acute awareness of how high the standard is and how much extra effort is needed and I don't just mean doing V.R practice.

It is the reason Grammars are often successful, they motivate students to go on to university, they are aspirational. All the best schools are.


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