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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:42 am 
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DS in year 5 attends very "normal" state primary. We are contemplating him sitting for Sutton grammar next year, so have started looking at some English comprehensions. Now, before anyone jumps up and down and tells me that a bright child shouldn't need tutoring to pass these exams, the school recently told year 5 parents that they don't have time to do many comprehensions during school hours and so will be sending some home for homework. During the whole of last half term, he has had only one comprehension:shock: If we don't do it with him, no-one will......

Anyway, back to my point. I think my DS is reasonably bright - not a genius but above average. Currently working at good level 4s at the start of year 5. We make sure he reads a variety of books (e.g. all Harry Potter series, Tom's Midnight Garden, lots of Michael Morpurgo and currently wading through A Christmas Carol - tough going!!). He reads with one of us as well as on his own and I certainly do all the usual like asking him why things have happened in a book and what he thinks the characters might be feeling etc etc. The problem is, some of the practice comprehensions we've looked at are incredibly difficult - well I think they are anyway! For example in one of the Schofield & Sims Comprehension (Bk 3) you had to explain why something could be considered "crass" and also explain what a motivational speaker was. Now this was completely over the head of my DS. It may have been possible to eek out some sort of answer from the context in relation to the "crass" question but if you didn't know what "motivational" meant before you read the extract, there was no way you could guess from the text.

I appreciate DS is only 9 and still has a year to go, but if the actual 11+ comprehensions are that tough, well, I'm starting to wonder whether it's even worth trying :? We're looking at a couple of indies as well, and their sample papers seem even harder!

Has/Is anyone else experiencing this? I think I'm just looking for reasurrance but any confidence boosting tips gratefully received as well :D


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 4:08 pm 
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Comprehension is set by SGS at quite a high level, and rightly so. Why? Because schools which do not do it - i.e. which only judge by VR and NVR, are absolutely plagued by the numbers of entrants who have been intensively schooled to pass reasoning tests, but in many cases are incapable of understanding a simple sentence.

The success of these pupils is then based upon the small army of private tutors who back up their English. How do I know this? I am one of that army, as is a close friend - between us we have tutored hundreds of GS pupils over the years, and I can say that neither of us has tutored more than a handful of pupils from SGS. Why? They weed out those who can't write a coherent paragraph, with their English test. As they ought.

It's not a happy situation - especially for parents and grandparents such as I and my son, when my GD is brilliant at English and was working at Level 6 in Year 5 - but she did not make it to GS! My friend is at the moment tutoring a girl in Year 9, my GD's year - this girl is at a GS, but she can barely sustain a full essay; she is at level 6C. My GD, at a private school, perforce, is at level 7A.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 1:54 pm 
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Thanks Huntlie for response - I was feeling a bit neglected there for a while :cry:

I fully appreciate why schools have an English test and am not knocking the concept by any means. I suppose I am just surprised at the level of understanding required at such a young age. Although this is my third experience of the 11 plus, my DDs didn't have to sit English (before Nonsuch introduced the test - and no, they don't get a lift to school, they get the bus :wink:) so I'm surprised at the level of difficulty of some of the allegedly KS2 practice papers.

It would be really helpful to hear from anyone whose DC have successfully sat any of the sutton schools English comprehension papers to get a better understanding of what we should be aiming for and how far removed the standard was from an average KS2 SATs paper :D


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 9:01 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2008 9:26 pm
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My practical advice carries a health warning as it is now several years since one of mine sat the tests.
I believe the grammar school comprehension tests in Sutton are relatively straightforward and I certainly heard no gripes from my sons.
Like most aspects of 11+ familiarity is important and if they are not used to doing comprehensions do not really understand it is all there in the text. It sounds like you have been looking at some tough comprehensions. Cast your net a bit wider-we used an English book for practice. Clearly being well-read will help with vocabulary knowledge. I am sure lots of boys would have struggled with the example you gave.
Once having learnt how to do comprehensions, mine actually struggled more with essays.....


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 7:14 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2011 8:51 pm
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2outof3

My DD sat the Nonsuch test this year and believe me I was having a massive panic when we went through the Bond books and such. She is in the top stream in her school, but still found these papers very difficult. She was getting from 60% to 75%! I was very worried that she would not pass the english element. However, certainly at Nonsuch (not sure about Sutton Grammar) the purpose of introducing the test was to wheedle out the girls who did not have a good, sound basic grasp of English. The other two tests, VR and NVR are for intelligence and reasoning. She said the test was quite a bit easier than the ones we had done at home and achieved 10 points over the pass mark. Also at Nonsuch you still need to pass all three tests separately before actually being given a pass for the test as a whole, therefore it is not good enough to be a genius in just one or two of these disciplines - one needs to be good all round. Not sure if this is the same at Sutton G. I have known boys from my DD's school go to Sutton G and although they were in the top set and achieving 5b in year 6 sats - they did not appear to be genii.

Good luck
Laretta.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 8:32 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 30, 2011 12:46 pm
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I have been following this thread with interest, as I also have a DS in year five and wondered aside from the Bond books what comprehension books to get. I would appreciate your input Huntlie


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