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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 9:09 am 
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DS is taking Indies entrance exam in Jan as plan B if GS plan fails...but we haven't covered any English other than vocab for VR, ie no comprehension etc.
I am not sure where to start given the late stage-can anyone recommend any material we can cover to give him a good grounding in the next few weeks? He is good on English but it has just occurred to me that he hasn't had any practice in the stuff Indies will test on and wanted to get a booklet which will cover all this.
Grateful for any advice.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 10:03 am 
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It will depend on guidance from your particular school - what elements have they advised are included?

In our indie entrance test (2nd Dec) they will do comprehension (25 mins) then creative writing (20 mins). We're using Bond English books, and the Bond Secrets of Writing and Secrets of Comprehension.

However, I've been really reassured from other posters on this site that Bond comprehension is particularly hard. This ties in with DD's experience.

Good luck!


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 10:18 am 
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Thanks Talismo, we are looking at 3 indies and I have pasted what they each say about the English test:

Indie 1. English will consist of comprehension and composition. The comprehension requires the pupil to read an extract and to write full and coherent answers to a set of questions about the text. The pupil is expected to write accurately in full sentences with good spelling and punctuation. The composition should also be correctly written with good descriptive content. Originality, flair, creativity and style are welcomed and marked highly.

Indie 2. The English paper is in two parts - comprehension and composition.

Indie 3. English Response and Composition
This paper will be based on a passage from modern fiction or biography written for children or suitable for them. There will first be short questions intended to check that candidates have fully understood what is described in the passage, including characters' feelings and attitudes. Then candidates will be asked to respond to the passage at greater length, for example by continuing it or by imagining themselves in a similar situation.
In setting this paper, it is assumed that boys have read a wide range of the best children’s novels such as Gillian Cross, Terry Pratchett, Rosemary Sutcliff, Robert Westall or Philip Pullman. >>Suggested authors and titles.
Questions in the test will involve thinking about what the passages suggest or imply as well as what they directly express, particularly about characters' attitudes and motives. In the second part of this paper, liveliness and sensitivity in style and vocabulary is rewarded as well as an ability to invent convincing dialogue. The composition should comprise controlled sentences of varied length and pattern, and should be coherent as a whole. Strikingly original work is not expected under examination conditions but if a boy has flair for creative writing he should bring a short piece of his work to interview.
Boys are expected to write legibly (in ink, ball-point or pencil), to spell and punctuate reasonably well, and to express themselves in grammatical English.
Words and Reasoning
This paper will test the ability to extract information from a factual passage and from material such as maps or timetables. It assumes that boys will have read a good deal of non-fiction appropriate to their age: science and history, for instance, and informative books on their hobbies. The paper also includes questions about the meaning and use of words and some simple verbal and visual puzzles.

I have limited time to now to go through stacks more books having done the 11+ prep for the last 12 months and I'm sure DS will refuse to come home from school if I put any more work in front of him so I was looking for something all encompassing without the need to buy numerous sets of material. Even I am feeling like I need to head for the medicine cupboard at the sight of more packs of work!!
Just to clarify though, we have only needed to concentrate on VR/NVR so far.
Many thanks.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 10:23 am 
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Is there a sample paper to guide you?

Have a look at other indies - lots of them have sample papers. Manchester Grammar School has several years worth of papers on their site. (It also has the answers which the majority of them don't)

Hopefully that will give you an idea of the topics that you will need to cover and then visit Waterstones.

Are there any children at your DS's school who have an older sibling at the school(s) you are considering?

(Sorry this post crossed the one above)


Last edited by 999 mum on Thu Nov 10, 2011 10:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 10:30 am 
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Thanks 999 mum. Nobody else at any of these schools so little to go on. DS is at state primary and the norm is to all head off to state secondary. No sample papers offered. Will have a look at Machester as you suggested. Thanks.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 10:46 am 
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I think it depends on where he is on comprehension and writing at school. Assuming he is at a good level in both according to school I would focus on exam technique.

For example how to produce a piece of writing in 30 mins (or whatever it is) - planning, including a beginning a middle and an end (or intro, argument, conclusion etc). He might not be used to working to this sort of timing at school. For comprehension explain how much is expected in each answer judging from the allocated marks etc. and to focus on answering the question asked.

If his writing is not good you might want to give him a checklist of things to include in each piece of writing. Do a few sample questions and then talk through what he could do to improve them.

If his writing and comprehension is not already at a good level then you have a tough job if you don't want to do lots of extra at home, but if he is doing well then giving him the exam technique to enable him to show what he is capable enough might be enough.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:13 am 
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Thanks Northlondonmum...given the lack of time you're probably spot on. He is good at English, is in the top literacy set. What material would you or others recommend for the technique?


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:50 am 
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We are currently using the tutor master books and finding them helpful.

Be aware that the comprehension book is mostly practice papers with answers. It also has a marking scheme for diferent types of writing (compositions, letters, speech, reports) but they are not very detailed. It includes some tips and the marking schemes give you a good idea of what they are looking for if you are not sure.

The "Tutor Master helps you write stories" books provide story plans with several pages of guidance at the beginning of the books. As suggested by the title the focus of these is creative writing, not persuasive writing etc.

Another book we have is Bond "secrets of comprehension" but it is quite dense and I need to study it again carefully to work out what might be useful! It might be useful for you or you might just find it too much.

There may be other books out there regarding techniques, but I have yet to find them. I think work on comprehension and writing requires more active parental involvement than any other area. I find it quite tricky to manage but perhaps that is just because I am better at maths! Don't expect to just buy a book and leave him to get on with it!


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 12:51 pm 
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As a slight extension of this thread, are there workbooks or how-to books out there on English comprehension that people recommend? My DC has just started doing this and, as it's a part of the 11+, I'd like to get to grips with it; and it might help OP with that element of the independent school exams.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:04 pm 
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Your indie school 2 sounds like the one we are applying for, Munch. No information, no past papers :lol: We're also at state primary and DD is the only one applying to indie.

However, this site is v useful for loads of stuff, and has helped me through the preparation. If you can spend some time poking around in all the threads, it'll be helpful to you (even if only for your sanity).

If you search for writing frame, you will find lots of advice on how to structure a piece of writing. This is particularly useful for the shorter writing task. The get your DS to practice this. Give him any topic and give him 20 minutes. Tell him you want to see both a plan and the piece of writing. The plan bit will help you help him see how to improve next time. In one of DD's early writing tasks she did an excellent plan, then compeltely disregarded it when it came to the writing. We've worked on that!

Also there was a really good thread about collecting standard phrases that can be tailored for use in any given situation (e.g to describe feelings, landscapes, colours, textures, etc). Can't remember what the topic header was, maybe someone else can remind us. Point being, have a few prepared which can be thrown into any piece of writing.

We've also just done 2010 SATS papers, which include 2 writing tasks, and I've used the mark scheme to help DD improve her writing. It's very detailed and gives pointers to what SATS markers are looking for. Might not be the same for the indies, but it's a useful exercise. You can get them through a google search.

One other point, handwriting could be important. We had a home visit as part of our application, and I showed them one of DD's projects from school. They were disappointed to see that it had all been done on the computer, and asked if there was anything I had that had been handwritten. Not sure if that will be important in the test, but we've been working on improving handwriting (last May it was only liegible to me, now friends can also read it :D ).


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