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PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 9:39 am 
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Hi every one, I am from Australia. I recently came across this forum as I am looking for some good English materials for selective/gifted preparation. So I have ordered one 11+ English Practice Tests book from ElevenPlusExams to see what it is like. I have looked at the sample papers from several schools listed on this website and my first feeling is that the tests are too easy. I wonder if the sample tests are supposed to be easy or students in the UK students actually do the 11+ test when they are only 8 years old (year 4 in Australian primary school).

I'd like to describe what we have in NSW Australia so people can help me compare.

At mid year 4, students can do an Opportunity Class test to enter gifted year 5-6 program where only about 1650 places are offered to the whole state (about 7.24 million population). The test has 70 questions to be done in 60 minutes (Eng, math and general ability/aptitude test).

At early year 6, students are offered to do a Selective School test to enter gifted HS program where only about 4600 places are offered and most of them scattered into low ranked part selective schools. Most fully selective schools are located in Sydney and largest regional towns. The test has 45 Eng questions, 60 general ability, 40 math and a writing job over 3 hours.

The testing is managed centrally by NSW Dept of Education and free for all students. About 10000 students apply for OC test and 16000 students apply for selective test each year.

All tests are in multiple choice format except the selective test with a 25 minutes creative writing component.

The year 4 OC test is at the level of 11+ samples from schools listed on this website.

The year 6 selective test is simply tough. Primary school teachers are likely to struggle to score well. The English part has 45 multiple choice questions, 7-8 texts (long passages and poems) to read in 40 minutes. Top 1% (High Distinction) students from University of NSW English year 6 international school competition struggle to get 65%-70%. Tough math students who perform very well at year 8-9 problem solving and those with distinction from the international Australian Mathematics Trust competition barely score 70%.

Students who score about 60% average across the 3 hours long test would be offered a place among top 5 selective schools in Sydney and those with 70% average get a place in the #1 school in Sydney. This #1 academic school is duped as a "factory" that has been making medical doctors and lawyers for the last 25 years. The majority of candidates would only score between 25%-45% for English reading and 35%-50% for math. This is why an average of 45% is good enough to get a place in a decent part selective school and 35%-40% is enough to enter a part selective school outside Sydney. Those with about 70% average and a profile of arts/sports/leadership/debating/ ... would be at the level to do a scholarship tests and may win a full scholarship to a top private school.

So my purpose is to look for hard English enrichment practice materials in multiple choice format. I wonder if 11+ level is too easy for selective preparation in NSW Australia or UK students actually do 11+ in year 4 (8 years old). I think I can bu 11+ materials for year 4 NSw OC test. If 11+ is too easy for selective high school test then what can I buy? English comprehension stuff (in multiple choice format) that would challenge even good year 9-10 students and primary school teachers would be at the right level I am looking for.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 9:06 pm 
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I'm sure someone will come along soon with more info for you, but just to say that they some take the test at the end of year 5 and 6 (aged mostly 10) and there is a lot of variation in regions-some are trying to get the top 30 % and some for example Henrietta Barnett which has a sample paper on the website had over 2000 sit for 93 places-my daughter is super at English and found the test (maths English mix) good challenge- the timing is a factor too-very tight and pressured to get it done. The CEM provider that many have turned too has several short sections all timed separately with no going back once finished with each section. You need your head screwed on tight! :-)


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 9:19 pm 
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Location: Essex
I would say, for example, from all the excitement on the Bexley section of the forum after the real thing, that the short practice paper on the Bexley Borough website is a lot easier than the actual exam in terms of content and / or timings. Some sample papers are given just to demonstrate the format / type of questions, others are actual past papers. If you look at http://www.csse.org.uk/. you can see some real past English and Maths papers for the Essex 11+, although as you can also see from the website, for 2015 entry the exam is changing in format.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:19 pm 
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Sorry I meant most take the test at the start of year 6 when most are age ten, some schools have it at the end of year 5 when a few are still 9.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 3:31 am 
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silverysea wrote:
I'm sure someone will come along soon with more info for you, but just to say that they some take the test at the end of year 5 and 6 (aged mostly 10) and there is a lot of variation in regions-some are trying to get the top 30 % and some for example Henrietta Barnett which has a sample paper on the website had over 2000 sit for 93 places-my daughter is super at English and found the test (maths English mix) good challenge- the timing is a factor too-very tight and pressured to get it done. The CEM provider that many have turned too has several short sections all timed separately with no going back once finished with each section. You need your head screwed on tight! :-)


From this I gather that there is no standard? Every school is free to choose any CEM provider and the difficulty will be different for every school. The top schools will have harder tests compared to tlower ranked school?

I have bought an English ePaper from this website for Eng and also 1 verbal and 1 non-verbal to see how difficulty these are. My feeling is that the 11+ English paper is too easy and barely match with year 4 Opportunity Class English test (for 8 years old) in NSW Australia. The ePaper has 2 short reading texts, 45 questions and 45 minutes to do. I could breeze through the test in 15 minutes (without care and checking) and got 42/45 right. In NSW Australia, I would have to struggle hard and pay extreme care to cope with a Selective English test (7-8 texts - poetry, fiction passages, science, illustration, news & multimedia, ...) within 40 minutes to get about 80% right.

Any one has tried this ePaper version, "English 11 PLus Practice - ENGLISH PAPER ONE (multiple choice format)"? I think it is barely adequate for year 4, Opportunity Class in NSW Australia. How is this paper compared to past papers from various schools in the UK?

I am very surprised because I always thought that UK English is a lot harder because I used BBC science for my kid and I found that it was so much superior to Australian science for primary schools. In Australia, students hardly learn any science at schools! Public school students at year 6 struggle to understand year 4 science from the UK and US. Australian Catholic schools' students hardly know any science at all. I have always imagined that UK school education is generally higher than Australia but it looks like I was very wrong for English and Math.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 5:07 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 8:50 am
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ToadMum wrote:
I would say, for example, from all the excitement on the Bexley section of the forum after the real thing, that the short practice paper on the Bexley Borough website is a lot easier than the actual exam in terms of content and / or timings. Some sample papers are given just to demonstrate the format / type of questions, others are actual past papers. If you look at http://www.csse.org.uk/. you can see some real past English and Maths papers for the Essex 11+, although as you can also see from the website, for 2015 entry the exam is changing in format.


Thank you for the link. I have downloaded and did the English test myself. It is harder than the ePaper I bought from ElevenPlusExams. Also had a look at the math test. The English test is decent. The style is very different to what they do in NSW Australia. In Australia they give 7-8 difficult texts. Some would be very long and there is hardly any time to read. Students have to read fast and the mind is pretty much electrified. All questions are in multiple choice format. The UK style is a mix of choices, true/false and short response and must be marked by hand. UK style is old fashioned and mainly based on fiction and deep reading. Australian style is to use a big mix of texts of different types to see how students cope with real life reading (expect the unexpected from modern media) which is more like US style. It is about "Can the year 6 student pick up a Sunday tabloid newspapers and understand most things in it?"

The math paper is just too easy and looks like a straight map to year 4-6 school math. It won't make a primary school teacher weep like the NSW selective math paper would. An average primary school teacher would not be able to score over 60% in NSW selective math test (40 questions in 40 minutes with at least 1/2 not seen in normal school math and 1/3 at year 9-10 problem solving level)

Again it looks like each school in the UK has its own level of difficulty for 11+ selective tests and the tests mapped closely to UK school curriculum. NSW selective tests mainly target gifted students (or tutored students???) who learn way beyond the normal school curriculum. It is therefore much harder for those who don't go to tutoring.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:02 am 
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Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2011 8:20 pm
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Location: Warwickshire
Judging by this report 13,102 candidates for 4158 places sounds like a ratio a lot of UK parents would jump for joy about!

It would be much easier for people here to compare and offer suggestions if we could actually see the test style rather than just giving us a description/opinion of them. There are some online linked from here for example.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:32 am 
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You are correct in saying there is no set standard for an English selective school. Furthermore even if they all agreed to use the same test paper they could set a different pass mark.

In England individual schools have many freedoms.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:30 am 
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Okanagan wrote:
Judging by this report 13,102 candidates for 4158 places sounds like a ratio a lot of UK parents would jump for joy about!

here for example.


Very interesting article - ratio would certainly make a lot of people happy here.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 11:31 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:10 pm
Posts: 8206
Location: Buckinghamshire
Quote:
It won't make a primary school teacher weep like the NSW selective math paper would. An average primary school teacher would not be able to score over 60% in NSW selective math test (40 questions in 40 minutes with at least 1/2 not seen in normal school math and 1/3 at year 9-10 problem solving level)

Well, I've just completed maths paper 1 from that link (coffee break, honest! :oops: ) and scored 100% on the 38 questions given in 27 minutes without rushing, and I am quite definitely not a maths teacher. I would be very seriously worried about any primary school teacher who was reduced to tears by it or who could not achieve 60% in it!

I can't copy many of the questions because they contain graphs and diagrams, but here are a couple of examples:

Quote:
Gina estimated that it cost her about $45 per week for petrol for her car. She had the car converted so that it would also run
on gas. Gas is much cheaper than petrol so it only cost her about $20 per week for gas. The conversion cost about $1000. How long will it take for the savings in using gas to equal the cost of the conversion?

A about 15 weeks
B about 40 weeks
C about 50 weeks
D about 65 weeks

Quote:
57 × 29 + 57 × 11 = 57 × (50 – Δ) .

Δ =
A 0
B 10
C 40
D 319

There are quite a number of questions that simply rely upon good estimating skills, such as this:
Quote:
The area of this door [diagram of a door 198cm x 81cm] in square centimetres (cm2), is about

A 280 cm2 .
B 560 cm2 .
C 1 600 cm2 .
D 16 000 cm2 .

I also noted this:

Quote:
Selective high school entry does not depend entirely on a student's performance in the Selective High School Placement Test as school assessment scores in English and mathematics are provided by the primary schools.

This additional assessment option does not exist for the English 11+. The test is the sole and final arbiter in every case, and the only recourse where a child underperforms in the test is an Independent Appeal Panel hearing, a process defined by a legal framework.


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