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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 1:24 pm 
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Hello! I'm new to this site, as my child has just started year 5 and I'm planning my campaign for entry in 2018. I wonder if there is anyone else around who'd like to pass on tips and offer support, useful links, etc. I'm not paying a tutor and intend to work through various things with my child myself, starting very soon. Would be lovely to hear from you.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2016 11:12 am 
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Hi, well done to get to this first stage of deciding to commit to the 11+ campaign!
My DD2 is about to take the test this Saturday and as I tutored her myself, I feel able to impart some words of wisdom...
Firstly, you need the support of all the family as you and your daughter will need to be able to commit a significant amount of time over the next year if she is to stand in good stead of achieving a grammar school place. This includes over holiday periods as well (these past 6 weeks have been the hardest to get motivated!).

Set aside a half hour period every day when you and your daughter know it will be study time. I was able to do this before taking my daughter to school as I found she was less enthusiastic to do 'more work' in the evenings.
I used the CGP 10 minute test books covering maths, NVR and VR and also the green Cloze questions books. I always sat with my daughter as she worked; explaining how to do things if she was unsure. I must warn you though, I have spotted a few mistakes in these books, which is why working through them together is advisable.

Book at least 2 mock tests; this will familiarise her with the exam process and also she will be less nervous when you drop her off and leave her for the real thing (trusting this is going to be the case on Saturday!). I booked one at Easter, one in July and one mid-August, where she improved in each test.

Listen to your daughter read every night and maybe subscribe to educational publications. We have used Whizz Pop Bang and The Week Junior. Vocabulary flash cards are also helpful. Ask her questions about what she has just read to check understanding.

Finally, if you daughter has any siblings, I would advise either giving them a simple job to do or getting them to do some study (be it reading or playing an educational game) whilst you sit with your daughter, otherwise she might feel the whole process is 'unfair' because the other one doesn't have to do anything.

Obviously, always praise your child for the effort they put in and tell them how proud you are of all the work they are doing. Lots of hugs, kisses and treats! I found in the holidays, I would say something like " after study time, we'll bake some cakes/go to the park e.t.c"

Remember, regardless of whether she gains a place or not, studying with your child is a valuable use of time and it shouldn't be underestimated the skills and knowledge she will gain over the next year.

:D


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2016 12:33 pm 
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Very good post jerseycow and there's nothing I don't agree with.

We didn't go along the former tutor route and I/dh DIY'd with both of our kids. I can't emphasise strongly enough how important getting fully in touch with your child's education as early as possible, in order to identify weaknesses. Don't assume it's all good, and the teachers are "on it". They have 30 kids to deal with. So, check homework maths/spelling/grammar is understood as you go along. Use Synonym Toast and the wonderful Free Rice websites. Visit the library weekly. Use story cubes a couple of times a month. Flash cards.

There will probably be times when your child rails against you. Usually in holidays when it is sunny outside. I drew a picture with boxes representing each of the schools that my dc's would be eligible for with or without sitting the exam ie, 1 or at a push 2 if they didn't and 6 (including the other 2) if they did and left the choice with them. Thankfully it worked and they saw the logic. Seeing it written down I think helped lodge it.

The process isn't for the faint-hearted and does take commitment, but I believe it to be worth at least trying. Not least of which it teaches them sacrifice and hard work. I definitely believe the effort was worth it for them to be in the schools they are now.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2016 6:06 am 
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Thank you both. I guess I hadn't really appreciated what a big deal it is, and how far from what they are doing in school some of the CEM stuff is. I've got a pretty good idea of what they do in school and it doesn't impress me but as you say, there are 30 in the class. Not sure I can do half an hour every day but certainly two good sessions a week at the moment, building up later in year 5 I guess. Hopefully year 5 will produce some rather better work than has so far been the case...


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2016 7:58 am 
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Joined: Wed May 07, 2014 7:23 pm
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I just thought I'd add in a recommendation to take your DC to visit grammar schools early on. I found it helped focus and motivation a bit more as my DD could see why it was worth doing the work. I found visiting HSFG in the daytime less intimidating for DD than the evening, although we did both visits in the end.

Good luck on your quest for the holy grail. its good to have a Prime Minister who understands the importance of education. Hopefully that means that the curriculum won't keep changing and hence the goalposts


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2016 8:26 am 
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wileycoyote wrote:
Thank you both. I guess I hadn't really appreciated what a big deal it is, and how far from what they are doing in school some of the CEM stuff is. I've got a pretty good idea of what they do in school and it doesn't impress me but as you say, there are 30 in the class. Not sure I can do half an hour every day but certainly two good sessions a week at the moment, building up later in year 5 I guess. Hopefully year 5 will produce some rather better work than has so far been the case...


That sounds like a really good plan. Maybe look online for test age-appropriate test material as you go along, which will identify weaknesses that you can work on the following week. I wish we had looked more closely at the stage you are at. We were assured by school that DS was average in maths for example, but when we started the grammar process we realised quickly that she was anything but. She was very weak, but they just hadn't picked up on it. To be honest, I don't think she's ever really recovered as the very fundamentals weren't solid and therefore didn't become second nature.

With your parental support, I'm sure your child will do just fine wherever they end up as it's more than half the battle in my opinion. Good luck.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2016 9:10 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2011 7:41 pm
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I found the 3 CGP CEM Study books in Maths, Verbal Reasoning & Non Verbal Reasoning were good to work through alongside the accompanying Practice books. If you have the time, then you can start with those for the 9 -10 age group and then move on to the 10 - 11 books. All CGP books have Assessment tests at the back and come with a tear out Answer book with full explanations of all the answers. The Study books have a Benchmark Assessment to do at the start to give you an idea of the level your child is at. The CGP 10 minute tests are also good for when you're looking for short activities. Although you may find CGP books cheaper on other websites like Amazon, CGP offer generous discounts when you're buying a number of books at a time directly from them and I received mine within 24 hours. Add the books you want to their basket to find out how much discount you qualify for. It can be up to 35% if the books in your basket total £100. I bought a couple of extra books for a sibling in order to take the total to £100 and it was well worth it for the extra discount.

Eleven Plus Exams also publish a range of very good practice materials in all areas necessary for the CEM test, if you want to supplement CGP with something that looks a little different. In the summer, nearer to the test, move on to practising with full length papers. I used CGP and Collins/Letts 11+ Success Bumper Pack for CEM.

I also found the Usborne Illustrated Maths Dictionary to be an excellent resource for 11+ and SATs.

As well as the Freerice website for vocabulary and times tables, I used the Vocabulary.com website. You can sign up and then create your own vocabulary lists for children to work through. In addition to testing the vocabulary they also test spelling with a spelling bee so you can use it to input your child's weekly spelling lists too. One warning - the website is American so if you use their lists you need to check the spelling before assigning to your child. However, you can search for lists that have been added by other members. When you search for "11+" or "CEM" you'll find lists that have been created by 11+ tutors in the UK and you can assign those. Children are rewarded with points, badges etc as they increase their scores.

One tip I would also suggest is to get your child used to working with a clock and timing how long they take to do any exercise. It won't matter too much to begin with but it will help take the fear out of being timed later on.

As well as visiting all the grammar schools I would suggest that you also visit some of the alternatives, including schools you definitely would not want your child to attend, so that you are well informed of how they operate too.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2016 9:18 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2011 7:41 pm
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Most primary schools administer a CAT test early in Y5 and this can be a good indication of children's potential for grammar school. Teachers at our local primary school always recommend that children need a score of approx 115 or above to demonstrate they have potential for grammar school. I also think that a high CAT score may have been used by some parents going to appeal if their children didn't perform as well on the day as was expected.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2016 1:21 pm 
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Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2016 1:18 pm
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More excellent advice, thanks. Yes, we will be going to some open days this month and next because if the child really doesn't take to the school environment, it's pointless!
Really helpful book suggestions and websites too, thank you.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2016 1:32 pm 
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wileycoyote wrote:
More excellent advice, thanks. Yes, we will be going to some open days this month and next because if the child really doesn't take to the school environment, it's pointless!
Really helpful book suggestions and websites too, thank you.


My dd went to look at one school during the day and absolutely hated it. We took her back for an open evening and she still hated it. She just didn't like the atmosphere. There was no way I was going to get her interested in the sort of level of commitment we required if she didn't feel the reward would be "worth it". Luckily for her, she preferred the school she ended up at so it all worked out in the end.


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