I was holding back from responding until DS received all his results. I am happy to say that DS cleared all the exams he sat for (Wilsons and Sutton - 2 stages, WCGS, Kent, Bexley and Olaves - 1st round) ---- His preparation was 100% DIY.
As a background, my son goes to a local state primary school, and has been part of the top table for the last few years. He has an academic bent and is an avid reader. How we did it?
* We remembered that kids are still 10 and therefore, exams will not cover Rocket science or Brain surgery. They are mostly based on their current curriculum.Be warned though
* Having said that, DS still needed practice and other materials to supplement his skills. We spent a lot of £££ on books. Spread over a year, we spend roughly £250-£300 on books.
* Youtube has plenty of videos to teach tricky stuff and it is free. We found it to be very helpful for teaching tricky NV stuff such as Nets.
* We, as parents, were committed to help DS succeed and adjusted our personal routines to suit his.
* You will need to spend lot of time with you DC. Teaching, Planning, Scheduling, Managing exams, Correcting, Teaching, Planning ... you get the idea. I spent at least 30 minutes to 1 hour a day for more than a year. Don't underestimate the effort from the parent's side. If you can't spend this time, go the tutoring route
* It would definitely help if you have experience in competitive exams. I had this and therefore, I kind of knew how to approach this - as of July 1st, I developed a day wise plan that would take my son through to Sutton exam dates. I copy pasted the plan for Aug 12th as an example below:
CGP Maths - Assessment 4The plan took me considerable time to develop as you need to know your DCs strengths, weaknesses etc.
Schofield and Sims - 30 mts
Peter Robson - 30 mts
2 * 10 minute tests (CGP)
* In short, DIY is possible, but only if you are committed to helping your DC.
As I said in another thread, it is a long journey and kids usually respond amazingly well to parents than they would to an outsider. I believe this experience helped me get closer with DS as we fought a battle jointly, and will always look back at this with fond memories.