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 Post subject: Exam timing tips please!
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 1:12 pm 
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It looks like the Kent 11 plus papers this year will be a 25 minute burst of maths, a 25 minute burst of English and a (to be confirmed) 25 minute burst of verbal reasoning. The non-verbal reasoning will be in shorter timed sections so less scope for going off track time-wise there.

I have taught DD to guess and move on if a question is taking "too long" .... but the question is, how do you teach them this level of "judgement"? These tests are inevitably going to be made up of questions which take a variety of length of time and DC is much quicker at some question types than others too.

So, how do you teach them to get to the point where they give the whole paper a fair crack without having guessed their way through unnecessarily?

At the moment we don't know what pace is expected at all - there has been no familiarisation paper for our new test. But it is GL, so for arguments sake let's assume that the VR would be 40 questions in 25 minutes spread over 6 to 8 question types.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 12:16 pm 
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Hi mystery,

I think it's just a case of practising under timed conditions so they get a sense of needing to move faster. At the end you could say look how well you did on the ones you answered but you can't get any marks for the ones you didn't get too which really lowers your chances..... Put the clock in front of them and get them to write the start time down and when half way will be. DD was brilliant at this and DS was rubbish, he must have put a spurt on in the real thing, adrenalin?? Mocks are key for this.
You could do it with ten minute mini papers so hopefully there will be some progress within a session.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 12:45 pm 
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Thanks. Yes that sounds sensible.

We're OK over short stretches e.g. 6 questions in 3 minutes.

Thing I'm struggling with really is how to advise her to structure it for questions which will vary in the time needed. Some types of verbal reasoning are so much faster than others for her (and me too) and I don't want her to go guessing loads because they look like they will take more than 30 seconds, for example, when there are others which will take less.

Yes, you're right though. I don't think we'll develop a technique without seeing how she performs over lots of 25 minute stretches (which is what it will be) but, as we don't know whether or GL familiarisation papers are representative of the new Kent test or not it's still hard to draw conclusions. Tying myself in knots over this one!


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 2:08 pm 
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Why does your DD have to guess the time? Mine both wore watches which they took off and placed in front of them during their exam - just as I did back in the day.

At home doing the practice papers, they would have a timer in front of them counting down. With the NVR sections, I would have the timer and tell them when they had 5 mins left for example and they would have to stop and move on to the next section after the allotted time.

If each paper is going to be 25 mins long, perhaps you could ask her to try and finish within the first 20 mins to give herself the last 5 mins to go back through and check answers. It's difficult to help train them, but I think the only way to become used to it is by doing papers within certain time limits.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 3:13 pm 
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I was thinking when you are on a particular question you need to have some sense of whether you've spent a second or a minute on it already. You don't want to be looking at the watch all the time and a watch doesn't help with seconds anyhow. I'm thinking more at the level of when do you move on to the next question rather than when do you guess the rest of the section and move on to the next section - I'm hoping she doesn't have to take the latter option.

Timekeeping is much easier for long form questions where you've got an hour to do six questions of 10 marks each for example. It's really clear then that you should be spending a similar amount of time on each question and moving on after say 7 minutes so that you've got some time left at the end for corrections. I don't see this happening in a time pressure quick fire multi-choice exam. Surely it's a completely different technique to timekeeping, particularly if all the questions are hard and children are maybe only expected to get a lowish raw score to have done well enough. I don't know . It doesn't seem straightforward to me.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 3:33 pm 
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Joined: Fri May 06, 2011 7:51 am
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You're right of course, longer exam times gives you a bit more breathing space. When we sat our 11+ (NFER / GL), we worked on a 30 secs per question basis, so 80 questions in 40 mins. But again, you're right, none of it is straightforward :-( The best I can suggest is leaving a bit of time at the end to go over the questions if possible and make sure you have an answer for every question, even if you're not sure it's the right one.


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