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 Post subject: 20 minute 'essays'
PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 8:55 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 26, 2011 8:37 pm
Posts: 577
I have no idea what to expect from this part of the Sutton & Wallington exams. At my son's state primary (just started Yr 5 so exams are a year away) they have never written an 'essay' before. They do write stories but seem to take all term to complete one.

If anyone has an idea of the kinds of topics, or even the phrasing of questions they might run up against, I'd be so grateful for tips. I have no idea whether it will be "What I did this summer" or "Is there ever a just war?"

Also wondering what we should be aiming for in practise runs, in 20 mins. Does independent thinking and imaginative vocab count for more than the odd spelling slip? (My son will get 100% correct marks on grammar in MC questions but can easily 'it's an its' when carried away in a train of thought.)

We're clueless as to what's expected of this part of the test and don't know anyone at the schools to ask, except the friendly folk on here. :D


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 Post subject: Re: 20 minute 'essays'
PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:54 am 
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I don't know what it's like for your area, but in Kent there were quite a few options ranging from a letter , newspaper article and a story my DS chose which I think was along the lines of if there weren't any mobile phones or something. His headteacher seemed to know what the options would be , maybe it's best to cover all eventualities.Also, his HT did say that he should get good marks because of his imagination, even though he sometimes doesn't put in full stops or capital letters. :shock: ( although of course that won't look great ! )


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 Post subject: Re: 20 minute 'essays'
PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 7:16 pm 
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I believe last year's essay for Sutton Grammar was a persuasive letter to parents. (There were no other options.)


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 Post subject: Re: 20 minute 'essays'
PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:23 pm 
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Traditionally, Wallington have asked to imagine something similar to the comprehension piece and write about it, no choice. Sutton tend to give a "non story"-imagine you're prime minister for a day, what would you change or a letter as above with no choice. Wilson's have previously had a choice, so often something to suit everyone.

I found that boys struggled to write a story-they found it a good idea to spend a few minutes with a plan-who are the characters, think about a beginning, middle, end. I then encouraged them to throw in adjectives, adverbs and bonus points for metaphors/similes! Try and start with an interesting first sentence. Think what would make a teacher happy!

You can't actually do very much in 20 minutes. I think they are looking for ideas and reasonable use of language. They are also somewhat forgiving if you get completely the wrong end of the stick as one of mine did :cry:


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 Post subject: Re: 20 minute 'essays'
PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 9:36 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 26, 2011 8:37 pm
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Thanks so much, everyone. I hadn't a clue what it might be. This has given me a much clearer idea of how to prepare them. So, probably non-fiction. Letters are likely, as is the ability to put forward some coherent plans and arguments.


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 Post subject: Re: 20 minute 'essays'
PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 1:38 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2011 12:16 pm
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The year that we did WCGS and Sutton the Essay for both was fiction and there was no choice. I believe it's used as a seperator rather than being key to the exam I have a suspicion that if the other papers indicate that a child is not of selective ability the essay will not get marked as even with 100% the child cannot up their marks to a pass.

DS1 came out of WCGS saying he had written two and a half pages (I'm guessing that wasn't in his smallest handwriting :roll: ). He didn't want to go to Sutton, and by that time we knew he had a place at WCGS so he did the exam purely as a backstop in case he suddenly had a complete change of heart. He came out of the Sutton exam and proudly announced he had written 18 lines (and had time to count them!!!!). Despite that he would have got a place at Sutton had we put them above WCGS. I therefore reckon that the essay is not vital in as much as it's not vital to write about the 'correct' subject or to write reams. It is however a way of showing that your son can write a reasonable piece of prose and construct thoughts, and I reckon that's what they are looking for so that if they have a group of boys all on the same mark they can look at the essays and determine which are the more rounded. A plethora of spelling etc errors are not likely to impress, especially if it makes the essay hard to read, but the sentence structure, words used and flow are likely a lot more important.

Just my thoughts.

(OMG! Edited to correct my spelling mistakes!!!!!!!!)


Last edited by ThreeKids on Tue Sep 13, 2011 1:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: 20 minute 'essays'
PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 1:40 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 26, 2011 8:37 pm
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Threekids, thanks for the insider view. It's valuable!


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