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PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 1:17 pm 
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Please find below my answer from AGSB on a letter I sent in recently, complaining about boys sitting the exam on Wednesday being 'prepped' about what to expect on the exam paper. Although not committing, it does seem that they used the same paper.


I think it is really unfair that some children get an advantage by having 3 days of knowing what to expect on the paper and being prepared for it.


Other thoughts would be welcomed.



Dear Mr ***,

Thank you for your letter concerning the Entrance Exam.

The Wednesday exam is held to accommodate two different groups of students. Some who for religious reasons cannot sit on a Saturday and, usually a slightly larger group, some who were ill on the Saturday and could not attend. It takes a few days to recover from sickness and so we choose to hold the exam on a Wednesday to be reasonable to those boys.

A purpose of education is not only to pass on knowledge and skills but also an understanding of ethical behaviour. It is therefore surprising that you have heard rumours of unethical behaviour in primary/prep schools. This is an issue you should take up with those schools because our aim is always to provide a fair test and to be reasonable to all who take it, including those who, for no fault of their own, fall ill at a crucial time.

The inevitability of sickness and other special circumstances make an alternative examination date necessary. The timing of this has little consequence to the results achieved. We do track marks achieved by all pupils who take the exam over many years and there are no variations in the marks between those who take the test on the Saturday or on the alternative date which suggests that any additional ‘prepping’ there may be makes no difference. This makes the timing of the alternative exam inconsequential. Results are remarkably similar whenever the exam is taken – which shows it is a good, fair test.

I hope you can appreciate the balance we try to strike but would add that it would be disappointing if some were to see it as an opportunity to gain advantage over others.

Yours sincerely,





Mr T J Gartside
Head Master


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 3:10 pm 
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Well done Mr 147- I think it is grossly unfair that the Wednesday boys do not face the stress of having to sit the exam with 1000+ other children. I will also write in.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 6:05 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:35 pm
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Mr147 wrote:
Please find below my answer from AGSB on a letter I sent in recently, complaining about boys sitting the exam on Wednesday being 'prepped' about what to expect on the exam paper. Although not committing, it does seem that they used the same paper.


I think it is really unfair that some children get an advantage by having 3 days of knowing what to expect on the paper and being prepared for it.


Other thoughts would be welcomed.



Dear Mr ***,

Thank you for your letter concerning the Entrance Exam.

The Wednesday exam is held to accommodate two different groups of students. Some who for religious reasons cannot sit on a Saturday and, usually a slightly larger group, some who were ill on the Saturday and could not attend. It takes a few days to recover from sickness and so we choose to hold the exam on a Wednesday to be reasonable to those boys.

A purpose of education is not only to pass on knowledge and skills but also an understanding of ethical behaviour. It is therefore surprising that you have heard rumours of unethical behaviour in primary/prep schools. This is an issue you should take up with those schools because our aim is always to provide a fair test and to be reasonable to all who take it, including those who, for no fault of their own, fall ill at a crucial time.

The inevitability of sickness and other special circumstances make an alternative examination date necessary. The timing of this has little consequence to the results achieved. We do track marks achieved by all pupils who take the exam over many years and there are no variations in the marks between those who take the test on the Saturday or on the alternative date which suggests that any additional ‘prepping’ there may be makes no difference. This makes the timing of the alternative exam inconsequential. Results are remarkably similar whenever the exam is taken – which shows it is a good, fair test.

I hope you can appreciate the balance we try to strike but would add that it would be disappointing if some were to see it as an opportunity to gain advantage over others.

Yours sincerely,





Mr T J Gartside
Head Master






Well done Mr147,but do not worry too much about it. Over preping and overtutoring doesnt help in the long run....


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 8:05 pm 
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Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 12:19 pm
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Personally, I don't think it makes a difference to the outcome. I can see the situation from both the school and parent's perspective, but I would have a greater issue if the paper was different.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:17 pm 
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I don't know, I have a bit of an issue if the paper is the same! Other children could talk about specific questions and could easily inform others of the NVR question type. On the other hand, people could query the equity of the papers if they are different. So they can't win!

I do feel that if children are ill on the day it's not their fault and they should have another opportunity to take the test. I'm surprised it's so close to be honest - children could easily still be sick 3 days later.

I suppose what you have to think is that it doesn't really affect whether your child passes or not does it?


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 5:53 pm 
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Maybe the school should stress that children or parents should not discuss any questions until the second set of children have taken their tests.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 6:40 pm 
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Well done Mr147. I agree with you, I think it's a really unfair system.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 9:41 pm 
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Joined: Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:44 pm
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I can see why you might view this as unfair, but if you were in the situation where your child could not attend on the day would u not expect to be offered an alternative?

I think 3 days is reasonable, SGS offer an alternate date in November, so an extra month of prep if that's how u view it.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 10:30 am 
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Can I just add that I know of at least 1 family that openly admitted that they wanted extra time to prepare .... although not the Altrincham one ... and said their son was ill. Hence I am really shocked to read the schools are using the same paper. Common sense would suggest you have to change things.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 4:04 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 07, 2013 1:58 pm
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Dids wrote:
I can see why you might view this as unfair, but if you were in the situation where your child could not attend on the day would u not expect to be offered an alternative?

I think 3 days is reasonable, SGS offer an alternate date in November, so an extra month of prep if that's how u view it.


Dids- I agree that an alternative should be offered and I do completely understand that if a child is ill or they are Jewish that they cannot sit the exam on the Saturday.

But the Saturday is absolutely manic, with 1000+ pupils all turning up at once. It must be so daunting for the boys, especially as they often have to sit the exam in a room full of strangers. So I do think that it must be an advantage for the children to sit the exam on an alternative date with their friends- that is not the fault of the child/ parent, it is the fault of the school.
I think the only fair solution would be to split the numbers in half- 600 should sit on the Saturday and the other 600 should sit on another date.

I am going to write to the school to request this and suggest that others could do the same?

Incidentally, last year a child at DS's school missed the exam on Saturday as he was 'ill' and the mother was frantically asking all the other Mothers exam question details!


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