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PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 11:53 pm 
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Hiring a tutor to prepare our twins was not an option that we considered. My wife was taking a career break so she figured that if she could program missile systems she could tutor two ten year olds :-)

The twins would do an hour of studying during school days and 4 hours during weekends and school breaks. This was over a period of 6 months.

I'm curious to know how much prep other parents did by comparison.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 1:02 am 
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When we started 1 year before the exams we realised that dd's English had been neglected since Y2, when it was very good. A number of children in her class struggle with it to some degree, and the teacher is happy with a level 4, so at meetings I was always told that she was 'doing well'. Subsequently dp spent almost every Saturday for the entire year working on her English skills for between 4-6hrs. The biggest improvement was when we were stuck in Majorca during the volcanic ash fiasco, and she worked on it each morning. Her teacher saw a 'sea change' in her English from missing school (!) In 3 months she went from 4b to 5c at school, and this year is 5b or 5c depending on the test; mostly due to our work at home.

DD's cousin taught her maths 2 hrs each week for about 5 months, setting about 1hr homework each week. I took over for the last 2 months, when we started working through timed tests with a stopwatch, and looking at slow/weak areas. I felt I could be more demanding - I would never allow anyone but me to talk to her in a sargeant major fashion! We worked on tests most nights in the final few weeks. She was sitting the Latymer maths, which is a tough one (mean score last year achieved by the top 500+/1700 applicants was 28/50) and when we moved to Latymer and Habs Boys Maths tests from Bond her scores dropped for a while but we were achieving an average of 45/50 in the end. At school she is 'significantly above the national average', whatever that means.

She is naturally good at NVR so I only tackled it from about 3 months beforehand, starting with Bond, AE and IPS 'how to do' books, then Bond, Athey, Nfer, Letts, IPS, Learning Together (too easy) and printed out tests. We started with about 3 hours weekly, but in the last couple of weeks it was closer to 1-2 hours daily as we probably started a bit late, and only the top 500 or so from 1700 go to R2 at Latymer. We didn't bother with certain types of question (ie 'cube nets') as they are not in Nfer/GL assessment tests. DD was scoring between 76-80/80 in timed tests on the week of her Latymer test, and I was careful to set them in 20 question/10 minute slots. They re-standardise the R2 applicants NVR results, so a couple of marks could equate to a difference of 90/140 and 130/140!

We left VR until summer and I think that was our weak spot, as although she was good at it and scoring 73-76/80 in the tests at home within time, she was unwell at her St Michaels test in the afternoon, and a bad headache ( she developed 'flu and a chest infection) slowed her down so she missed out 9 questions. If we had started earlier her speed would have been better so it might not have happened. Unfortunately there was nothing we could do about her illness, but she is convinced the morning English, Maths and NVr went well so we can only wait for the results:)


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 11:21 am 
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Our experience is similar to yours. We recently went to a consultation evening with the children's Year 6 class teacher and we made the point that their Year 5 SATs scores were higher than the national average and that they were finding the Year 6 work too easy. The teacher's unhelpful response was that her sole objective was to bring the whole class up to the national average.
l
Unfortunately most (all?) state primary schools are only concerned with hitting the national average. So state school parents like us have to tutor like crazy just to give our kids a chance against the prep school kids.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 11:42 am 
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We didn't do any 11+ specific preparation (eg: going through practice papers/ "syllabus" etc) until about the last 6 months. We ramped up gradually to 3 papers a week during peak time and of course ~4 hrs of prep work every week (which used to happen mostly on the weekends to be honest!)

However, since early years we had been engaging the DC in various activities like building up vocab, word games, mental maths, reading, writing and comprehension... seemed to really ease the "learning curve" for 11+, which we did not know of until one "clued up" friend told us about it... and about this website (bless her!) :D

Of course each child is different and you will need to guage what method works for your DC.

All the best!


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 11:45 am 
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2Girlsmum

"...In 3 months she went from 4b to 5c at school..."

wow! that really is a splendid achievement! 8)


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 1:25 pm 
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Thanks, she worked hard on catching up after stagnating for a couple of years. She enjoys writing now, which we are thrilled with as she is a bit of a dreamer and has a good imagination. It's still a bit hit and miss with her comprehension work but that is also generally fine.

I do wonder what potential is being ignored/neglected in schools generally with children. There were 38 mixed-ability children in my class at primary school and no classroom assistants. We were expected to learn, and so we did. A times table would be given on Friday and we would be questioned on it the following Monday. Good work was rewarded with praise in front of the class and occassionaly sweets:) I was recently horrified to learn that my youngest (in Y3) has been learning the 3 and 6 times tables for 2 months(!) by listening to a song on cd 'one three is....two threes are....' etc and didn't know them properly as the class just followed the lead of one or more children. It took me about an hour on Sunday to teach her both tables, and she now also knows the 4 and 6 times tables, though is a bit slow on some numbers. Her teacher has the times tables on her wall, and sometimes children simply read the answer when questioned:( Her teacher in Y2 used to group the more able children by subject and give them more challenging work, but in Y3 she has just drifted so far. We are supplementing her work at home like you Yogkruti, as it will hopefull ease the 11+ cramming required for her sister.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:08 pm 
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Location: Maidstone
1 hour a week making DS familiar with the question types for 6 months and 1 practice paper every other day for the first 2 weeks of the summer holiday before he and we got fed up with them.

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"We've got a date with Destiny and it looks like she's ordered the lobster."


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:08 pm 
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It occured to me that preparation will depend upon which part of the country the applicant lives, since the number of selective schools, number of applicants, choice of reasonable non-selectives etc will impact upon the amount of work required to achieve a desired score.

Some areas are extremely competitive due to the lack of schools ie. North London where I live, inc. Barnet and Enfield. We have four state grammars (2 girls, 1 boys and 1 mixed ) for a population of about 5 million! The pass mark is 85-90%+ because most grammar schools changed status here in the 1970s as a result of Government policy at that time. Good secondary schools generally have a catchment area here of between 0.5 and 0.8 mile so are often not an option. Other areas are different, and the parents there may think that we are mad for pushing our children so hard, but it is the only way to secure a place. The time spent preparing for 11+ is probably the toughest time of my daughters academic life. I'm sure that it isn't any easier or less stressful for the parents or children in other areas, and I'm sure that they are just a bright, but I do however think that the amount of preparation required depends upon where you are, what the other choices of school are, and is not simply parental expectation and demand.

Apologies for sounding like a zealot, I'm still in post-traumatic stress recovery!


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:24 pm 
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Hi 2girlsmum, I totally agree with you on the fact it is do where you live.

Because for us it will certainly not be the end of the world is dd does not get into the grammar, as the local comp, which is a 15 min walk away, has just received the best results in the area.

We literally did a couple of test papers, and worked out how to solve the nvr questions, as dd had never seen these types of questions before.

Six weeks to go...good luck to all !!!


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:15 pm 
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Not being forward thinkers we didnt think 'catchment area' when we bought our current propery 11 years ago as newly weds. (we are AL4 while all the good schools are in AL1, 2 and 3).

So, for us, not getting on offer from St Albans Girls or Habs is going to upset my 'plan'


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