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PostPosted: Wed Aug 18, 2004 8:29 am 
Has anyone measured exactly how much, in percentage terms, a child's performance does improve by doing past papers. My daughter seems to have peaked and is now performing at a constant level. Is there such a thing as too much practice?

By the way nice website, I would have bought something from the online shop except I have already made all my purchases months ago. You should have more software products on it - I found that was one of the best practice tutors.

PostPosted: Wed Aug 18, 2004 8:31 pm 
I am now putting my fourth and final son through the process of application for a Grammar School place.

My first did not make it as I did not have a clue about preparation and a website like this would have been a big help the first time round, as would not having four boys!

But now I am a seasoned campaigner and I can tell you, having even spoken directly to one examiner, that practice papers add 15% to the average child's exam day performance. So its well worth the effort - however I would also advise against just buying everything in sight - you can always "borrow" from another child who has just completed their attempt.

Hope this helps, Sally :D

PostPosted: Sun Aug 29, 2004 4:59 pm 
What particular verbal/non verbal software have people found useful???

 Post subject: Software
PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2004 1:30 pm 
Site Admin

Joined: Sun Aug 15, 2004 3:31 pm
Posts: 1167
There is only one package that we have identified so far that directly targets 11+ Verbal Reasoning, and nothing to date that targets 11+ Non-Verbal Reasoning.

The one package that we did trial was very poor and some of the answers were wrong, or it indicated correct answers to be wrong when a child accidentally inserts a space character in her/his answer.

We have therefore sought collaboration from some of the exam publishers to create a better alternative and expect that this will be available in the next 5 weeks.

As you are aware all services including software development on this site are self funded from the sales that we generate and even on those sales we have sought to cut all prices that the parents pay for papers by at least 10%. Thus the development of the above mentioned software on present rate of sales is expected in 5 weeks.

So watch this space!

 Post subject: Software
PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2004 2:46 pm 
My daughters school suggested that parents steer clear of computer based training since the exams themselves will not be computer based.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2004 6:35 pm 
3 of my children got into grammar school. i started them on practice papers 2 years before the exam. At first 1 paper a week (untimed) , but then after a year 3 papers every saturday (timed). three months prior they were done under proper exam conditions. So on the day of the exam they were familiar with the format. The most important aspect to passing the exam was familiarity with every possible type of question. :D

PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2004 9:00 pm 
Starting preparation two years in advance seems a bit extreme, but I suppose the results speak for themselves. Well done.

Common advice is that children who are naturally bright will pass irrespective and that practice will at most add 15% to the performance, of which 5% will be given up on the day due to nerves. :?

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2004 9:03 am 

Joined: Wed Sep 29, 2004 1:50 pm
Posts: 7

Last edited by henri on Mon Nov 08, 2004 12:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2004 9:41 pm 
I'm sorry, Henri, but I have to disagree with you wholeheartedly.

I attended a good comprehensive some years ago. The problem I found was that there were indeed children in the comp who could have made it to grammar schools (our area does not have many grammars so it is very hard to get in) and maybe their parents took the attitude that it was better to go to the local school than to travel and comprehensives were fairly new at the time and full of innovative ideas and promise.

The "bright" children did very well in them but for me, well, it made me feel like a failure. No matter how hard I tried there was no way I could keep up with that kind of ability. No good for the self esteem at all.

I tried, successfully, to get my children into one of those few local grammars because I wanted them to feel good to start with and if they do struggle (some things they are in the top 10 in the year for and other things not so good) then I can say to them, well it is a grammar school and there will always be someone better than you but you are doing well because you're here in the first place.

What could I say to them at a comp?

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2004 1:02 pm 
From my own experience with my daughter, in verbal, and non-verbal reasoning, there CAN be too much practice. She found taking timed tests extremely stressful so we cut them to the bare minimum.

Much more important was sorting out the failings the few tests she took revealed. We spent hours on tables and fast subtraction for a start. To my horror I found my daughter could not count fast and reliably. We sorted that, but it took hours!

I think it is the tutors duty to know the answer to every question the child gets wrong, or just guesses right. The answer is in the answer sheet, but we have to know WHY it is correct, what were the clues, and explain. I passed the test for Mensa, but some of them I had to sleep on. There is nothing wrong in coming back to the question after the penny has finally dropped.

One thing you really should do - take the tests yourself. You will be a lot more sympathetic afterwards.

Sit down afterwards and try to find methods of solving each type of question in the time allotted. My daughters slow arithmetic meant that I taught methods for the maths based questions that would work 9 times out of 10, but not always. Better than running out of time.

Once you have taught how to solve a particular question, search through every paper you have for ones which need the same method, and get your child to solve them (This is the point where your avid collection of not quite right tests helps). If you can't find enough, make up more. You can spend hours on reflections, rotations, counting problems.

I doubt that practising these tests should start much before the summer holidays. The best long term strategy is to work on vocabulary and arithmetic. Spelling is helpful too. Make sure your child understands how to handle negatives e.g. 5-8 or 2-(-2) or -5+2, very fast mental subtraction, how to multiply and divide by fives, and the tables. Above all there is no quick fix for a poor vocabulary. Reading a wide range of books (including classics) is vital, as is lots of conversation with adults. My ex worries that I talk to my daughter as if she was another adult, but it certainly helped here!

You never need to feel guilty for teaching your child arithmetic, spelling, and vocabulary. These will be critical whatever school they end up in. How to aproach exams is a useful skill - but GCSEs are 5 years in the future. The rest is just about utterly worthless the second the tests finish.

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