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 Post subject: Tutor's practice tests?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 10:07 am 
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Sorry to those who may have already read this question on a previous thread but are the Tutors papers 1-12B graded in difficulty? Also I vaguely remember reading somewhere that they were designed to be done in sets of two, one being harder than the other to reflect the way the actual tests are set is this so? Finally how to they compare to the Walsh, NFER and BSparks regards difficulty.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 10:30 am 
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My understanding is that if you buy them in pairs they will cover all the 21 question types like in Bucks 11+. Some question types might be duplicated but they will all appear in the pair. We have used them up to 8b and found them to be good practice. The level of difficulty appears to increase as you work through them. Mike will no doubt post a clearer reply!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 2:15 pm 
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Hi Tolstoy

The Tutors e-papers were written as a full course. They get progressively more difficult up to paper 8, papers 9 and 10 are slightly easier to boost confidence and papers 11 and 12 are more difficult again.

The papers are written in pairs to get full coverage of the 21 question types, and there is an overlap of four question types that reflect a typical overlap of questions.

The Tutors papers reflect the content of NFER written papers and we have looked at the question variances, vocabulary level, mathematics and logic in the context of what is available in NFER preparation and familiarization papers.

I cannot comment on the difficulty comparison between The Tutors products and the other authors you have mentioned.

However, The Tutors do produce a more comprehensive range of material in different medias compared to other authors and the difficulty level of the Level 4 short e-papers cover the most difficult level of NFER questions that we could reasonably write for 11+ preparation.

Regards

Mike

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Mike Edwards is a co-author of The Tutors product range.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 8:19 pm 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Hi All

I have been mulling over the question of the difficulty of test papers in the last few days, as the test dates for Bucks come nearer.

Having used all of these materials, some of them twice, I would say that the approximate difficulty ranking for Bucks practice materials is (from easiest to most difficult):

- Tutors CD1
- Tutors full papers, Nos 1 - 10
- IPS full papers
- Tutors short papers, Level 3
- IPS daily papers
- Tutors full papers, Nos 11 & 12
- Learning Labs
- NFER: shop bought
( NFER practice tests
( NFER: actual test
- Bright Sparks
- Walsh
- Tutors Short Papers, Level 4. (Mental health warning attached :lol: )

I hope that helps, and I would be very interested in other people's views on this.

I have posted a duplicate thread on Bucks for that reason. If you are a Bucks parent, please reply there, and not here.

Thank you! :D

Sally-Anne


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 8:53 pm 
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Thankyou very much for that information Bucks mum 1 and Mike and that list is terrific Sally-Anne, especially the ratings you give the actual NFER tests. Obviously I accept it can never be an exact science but it does give us some sort of idea of what sort of marks DS should be aiming for when he does the different types and I can reassure him when he gets lower marks in the tougher ones.

Would also be interested in other's views and would the Gloucs NFER tests be of the same level of difficulty as Bucks, I am assuming yes?


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 9:16 pm 
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Dear Sally-Anne

A very astute list, well done! I would probably put IPS 30 minute papers a little further down the list, with the Tutors 11 and 12

Dear Tolstoy

Have you posted in the Gloucester Section, I believe Orson has mentioned that the 2 tests are different with the second one being harder/more challenging than the first.

Patricia


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 9:32 pm 
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Dear Patricia,

I had read that in the Gloucs section. In fact one of the Grammars we are interested in have ammended its admission policy and are now accepting an average score over the two tests rather than having an individual pass mark for each. Apparently not enough candidates were getting the required pass mark for the second test. It is the reason I have been asking about the levels because I give DS two tests every Sunday and I wanted them to reflect as far as possible what will happen on the day i.e one easier one harder.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 10:30 am 
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Hi Sally-Anne

When writing VR material we think that there should be a difficulty range within the papers that reflect the content of the real tests and we do not focus entirely on writing papers just for their level of difficulty.

We attempt to get as close to the NFER format as possible. When looking at "difficulty" level alone parents need to consider the relevancy of the most difficult papers to the actual tests being taken.

When students start the preparation process they need to be introduced to the question types at a low level so that they can get used to the question type format and the methods & techniques required to answer the questions as well as developing their vocabulary.

If a student goes beyond the level of difficulty required of them for the real tests it can cause problems in the preparation process, unless the child is particularly bright and finds the most difficult questions both challenging and stimulating, for such children the difficulty of the real tests are somewhat irrelevant.

The Tutors CD1 that contains 50 questions for each of the 21 question types has questions across a range of difficulty levels and although it does contain some of the easier questions it does also contain higher level questions. As such the difficulty level cannot be assessed because there is no like-for-like product to compare it with.

I have stated in previous postings that The Tutors e-papers are a course of papers designed to introduce students to the full papers and get progressively more difficult. As none of the other authors mentioned aim to achieve this then again comaprisons cannot be made on a like-for-like basis.

When we analysed the NFER material we identified three difficulty levels within the variances for each question type and for the short papers introduced a fourth lower difficulty level. In the short papers Level 2 represents the lower difficulty level of the NFER questions, Level 3 covers the mid-range difficulty levels and Level 4 contains the highest difficulty level plus a little more. Again, because there is no like-for like product it is difficult to make direct comparisons.

When looking at like-for-like products i.e. IPS full papers, PHI Learning Labs, Bright Sparks and Walsh, there is considerable overlap in the difficulty level of questions contained in those papers however the number of high difficulty questions in terms of maths, logic and vocabulary
only varies slightly. It is this slight variation that makes it appear to the parent and student that a paper is easier or more difficult. Children can be just as well prepared for tests by attaining high scores on IPS full papers and slightly lower scores on Walsh papers.

NFER shop bought papers cannot be compared to any of the other products in the list on a like-for-like basis because they only contain 15 question types. How can papers that are missing 6 types of questions be more difficult than the PHI papers, particularly when some of the missing question types are at the higher difficulty range?

NFER actual tests, that are not generally available, cannot be compared to any other product at all, because the difficulty level of the test has as much to do with the confidence and anxieties of the child sitting the test. It has been reasonably well recorded on this forum that children who consistently score 85-90% in practice tests have been known to score below 80% in the real tests.

If I were to write a list of difficulty levels I would probably try to indicate where overlaps occur across the published products based on a well researched analysis of the questions, for example:

Tutors CD1 Level 1 (25%) Level 2 (50%) Level 3 (25%)
Walsh Book 1 Level 1 (20%) Level 2 (50%) Level 3 (30%)
etc, etc.

Perhaps Guest55 could suggest this as a GCSE coursework project. The subjective results from all pupils could be placed into a database and averages obtained to provide valuable information to the eleven plus community.

Regards

Mike

_________________
Mike Edwards is a co-author of The Tutors product range.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 1:12 pm 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Hi Mike

I agree with you that each set of papers will have a variety of levels within them - Bright Sparks get progressively harder, as just one example.

I think that the NFER shop-bought papers have to ranked approximately where they are, despite having only 15 question types. It is the relative difficulty of those 15 question types compared to the same 15 types on any other paper that one has to consider.

If one were to say that they are easier because they only contain 15 types, compared to all the others with 21 types, then they would have to be "the easiest of all", and used first in preparation, rather than last.

I think it would be at least a GCSE project to try and rank each individual paper from all these materials! :D

Best wishes
Sally-Anne


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 11:20 am 
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Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:29 pm
Posts: 625
Hi

The difficulty in comparing one paper to another or one publisher to another is complex. As this is a general Verbal Reasoning topic, it would be necessary to compare all authors that have not been included in your list, such as Bond, Athey, AFN, CGP, AE Tuition, etc, whether the papers are standard or multiple-choice, which LEA or Independent school is setting the test and which organisation is writing the test.

When analysing for difficulty level it would be necessary to introduce parameters based on what is being assessed; vocabulary level, question variance, ambiguity, mathematics and logic.

It may also be worth considering relevancy within the analysis, because if, at the higher end of the difficulty range, the questions fall outside the parameters of the testing organisation they become irrelevant.

On the basis of the level of knowledge required of a student to complete a set of papers, NFER shop bought papers must be the easiest. Firstly, because they only contain 15 question types compared to 21 question types of other publishers and secondly because there are only 4 papers compared to 12 papers of other publishers, so the question variance is limited (one question type is included once in the set of papers). NFER papers tend to appear on a preparation list for familiarisation with the answer sheet not for difficulty of the questions, or after completing the first 15 question types of a method & technique course.


Regards

Mike

_________________
Mike Edwards is a co-author of The Tutors product range.


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