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PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2021 10:06 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2020 7:01 pm
Posts: 32
This forum has been immensely helpful throughout our 11+ journey. It is very heartening to see selfless people contributing their time for others!

Having gone through the grammar and private school preparation last year successfully*, I have compiled some pointers which we found very helpful for the exams.

There were a lot of points during the preparation where we felt as if we were flying blind, there was no reliable source of information (e.g. What should DS know at what point in time? For Maths? For English? What would an acceptable Mock score look like for comfortable entry to top schools? What should be the order of test papers from Bond, Letts, ElevenPlusExams, etc? How many tests are enough for a top school?). I have tried to put all of that information below (which if available to us beforehand, would have helped us immensely in our preparation and avoided a lot of hassle and pain).

Preparation material

The obvious places to look for the material to prepare for English/Maths is here:

https://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/schoo ... for-sutton
https://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/schoo ... for-sutton

Overall we sampled several books and preparation material. Some were useless, some more useful than others, and yet others were life savers.

Flashcard system for vocabulary:

We shortlisted around 1500 words, entered them in a flashcard app and started revising these with DS from end of Year 4 / start of Year 5. This takes 10 minutes every day, but consistency is the key (as you will see below), and rewards for the long term memory of vocabulary are fantastic. (At 10.5 yrs old, DS' reading age was assesed to be at 16 years, largely because of this practice).

Time requirements:

Irrespective of extra tuitions or tutors, if your aim is a top school, we found that parental involvement is absolutely necessary. We only started seriously preparing for 11+ in the middle of Year 4. Following lists the time which I feel is necessary minimum for a top result (weekdays initially and including weekends in last 6 months of exams):

Year 3-4, atleast 30 minutes daily
Year 5: 1 hour every day
Last 3-4 months before 11+: 1.5-2 hours every day

Timeline:

We planned that ideally:
  • by end of year 4 summer vacation (i.e. 1 year before the 11+), DS would have practiced Year 5 curriculum
  • by christmas vacation in Year 5 (Dec-Feb before 11+) , DS would have finished Year 6 curriculum
  • Start practice papers in Dec-Feb before the 11+. I believe the paper practice was the key to DS' success.
  • Initially, for 2-3 months, practice papers were to find DS' weakness. The next practice papers were to sharpen the test skills, and at the same time keeping all the curriculum fresh for him
  • Practice practice practice. DS did atleast 1 paper every day in the 3-6 months before the 11+ and 2 papers every day for the last couple of months before 11+.
  • We would track all test data in an Excel spreadsheet, along with any weak points, which were systematically handled during each subsequent papers.
  • Over the period of 12-18 months, DS attempted over 500 papers (at home, online mocks and actual exams). This looks like a big number, but remember that consistency is the key here, and this equates to only ~1 paper a day (over a long period of time), which does not take more than 1 hour every day.

3-4 months before the 11+, DS was scoring 90-95% in Maths and 85-90% in English Multiple choice papers, and 80-85% in Maths and 80-90% in English Standard papers (more details below).

Score samples in various papers

We did not know what a good score is. Now that we have a successful sample, here are the score averages for DS in various papers which we took at home. This would give a comparison point for assessing level of preparation vs the score.

  • Letts : 84% Maths and 86% English
  • CGP: 92% Maths and 89% English
  • GL's own papers: 89% Maths and 91% English
  • Manchester Grammar/ St Albans/ other private school sample papers: began at around 55% and stabilised to around 85%


Online Mocks

Due to covid, all the mocks DS gave were online. Mocks are absolutely essential, make it a point to attend as many mocks as possible.

  • Sample results: In SGSPTA Mock tests, Online session O: DS was rank 46 out of 2126 students (top 2%), and in Online session P: DS was rank 99 out of 1442 students (top 7%)
  • DS only placed in top 25-30% when he started mocks in Dec 2020. As he systematically practiced weak areas, he moved to top 5-10% students consistently.
  • As DS' score stabilised, the only source of variation in his scores was silly mistakes. We experimented and developed several exam techniques which would let him avoid these mistakes (a topic for another post probably).

*Results:

The expectation going in was to just do the hard work, and not to get too hung up with the results. A state secondary school entry would also have been an absolutely acceptable result.
Grammar school results:
  • Wilsons/SGS/Wallington: Passed all 3. Subject Access Request (SAR) revealed the level of marks for DS, but not his rank. Looking at last few years' scores, DS quite possibly placed in top 5 students amongst 2800 students who attempted SET stage 1 and 2. Nearly perfect score in SET English Stage 2.
  • Tiffin Grammar School: (via Subject Access Request): Ranked in top 35 students amongst ~1600 who sat the exam.

Kings College School:
Passed with the highest level of scholarship awarded by KCS

Hamptons School:
Passed with a highest level of scholarship

DS is not an inherently academic superstar, but is a keen learner. So the results were a nice surprise in the end, however the main lesson for DS has been that anything is achievable with hard work and systematic thinking.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2021 11:02 am 
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Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2021 9:03 pm
Posts: 12
This will be very useful for someone and congratulations on all your achievements but honestly, if my child needed all that, I wouldn't have gone through with it. My philosophy was always, if he can't get in without all this tutoring then he doesn't belong in a GS. I did buy him booklets with exercises and then full tests here and there but was not doing more than three hours a week starting in September of year 5. I've asked the teacher in year 5 if she thought he was suitable too.
In the end he passed all the Sutton tests and Tiffin and got his second choice place so not perfect but not tragic either.
Anyway well done and happy mother's day x


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2021 12:40 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2020 7:01 pm
Posts: 32
Congratulations for the admissions to SGS for your DS! It is a fantastic school.

Quote:
but honestly, if my child needed all that, I wouldn't have gone through with it.


Absolutely agree with this for our DS as well. The problem for us was that we did not have enough data: what level of preparation ends up getting a "safe" grammar or private school place? (we were aiming for private schools as well)

With hindsight and knowledge now, it is easy to see that DS would have achieved admission in a grammar school with half the preparation he did (albeit that would be on the edge), as his marks had stabilized within 3 months of starting practice and he was already scoring within top 2% of the mocks (e.g. SGSPTA mocks). That he ended up with real test scores placing him in ~ top 5 students in SET Stage 1 and 2 tests for Sutton was a revelation in itself: we would have been perfectly happy with an effort which placed him in top 400 students (for Wilsons). But how much effort is that (to be in top 400)? Now we know.

If people can have more examples of the effort levels vs the exact results (something that is not very transparent in the parent community I think, and made especially worse by Grammar schools not releasing ranks for passed students*), then parents can make a judgement based on their child's aspirations and aptitude.

*rightly so (as children's aptitude is fungible throughout their teenage years and a function of their parents, peers, and school amongst other things).


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2021 1:51 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2020 3:29 pm
Posts: 15
Thanks dh28 for this level of detail - its very useful in one place.

I totally agree that even though there is the advice from parents (which by the way I greatly appreciate the advice I received and read from this forums ) there isnt really enough data to help with how much effort is truly involved.

Here's our experience:

Background: My ds is at the top of his year 6 class for both English and Maths - and has been throughout primary.

Preparation for 11+: We didnt really focus until Year 5: Thats when we started searching sites and forums and only came across this site through searching for appropriate papers to practice on. I bought several papers for both subjects and we just practiced. However as I know he was better at English than Maths we concentrated more on a larger variety of Maths papers: both multiple choice and longer styles.

Initially we practiced the papers during the weekends - as we got nearer the time of exams it would be after school as well.

We did not apply for any independents. We took the Mocks for the Sutton Grammars and ds passed all 3. Not sure of his level of mark though. (Could you please elaborate as to how to get that - is that via the "What do they know". Is there a particular process or request that needs to be made?)

Your final statement is very true, this process does involve hard work, which even though compared to others wasnt as much, was a immense learning experience for our ds.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2021 5:56 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2020 7:01 pm
Posts: 32
Quote:
Could you please elaborate as to how to get that - is that via the "What do they know". Is there a particular process or request that needs to be made?


Normally the raw marks / standardised score information is only disclosed to students who do not pass the exams.

However, even if you pass the exams, GDPR rules still allow you to access your DC's marks in the SET stage 1 and stage 2 exams, but not their rank as compared against other students. Once you know raw marks and standardised score, you can then get a pretty good idea of the rank if you look at FOI requests on whatdotheyknow.

The data registrars for SET last year were Sutton Grammar School. I have listed the process to do the same in this post:

viewtopic.php?f=30&t=61569&start=10#p755459

Normally, I wouldn't have bothered with DS's performance in the exams (given that he had passed all exams he attempted). But we still have to go through the 11+ for younger one. As we needed to know the effort vs result, we made the SAR (Subject Access Request) for the elder one's marks in last year's SET exams.

Should be sent to "GDPR Officer & Clerk to the Governors", "Registrar" and "Data" officers in Sutton Grammar School, contact details here: https://www.suttongrammar.sutton.sch.uk ... port-staff

Quote:
To,
Data Protection Officer,
Sutton Grammar School

From:
ABC
1, PQR Road, Sutton, SM2 3AB

Dear Dr Wrench,

I would like to make a "Subject access request" under the Data Protection Act for the following information for my son, who attended both SET stage 1 and Stage 2 tests this year (on 11 Nov 2020 and 28 Nov 2020 respectively)? As the National offer day is over, releasing this information would not be in breach of school admissions code.

Data request for XYZ:

SET stage 1 and stage 2 raw marks
Standardised marks for Stage 1 (which would be looked at by Wallington School for preparing their rank list)
Ranking on list prepared for Wallington School
Final standardised marks (including both Stage 1 and Stage 2 (i.e. the standardised score which weighs SET stage 1 and SET stage 2 scores in ratio of 2:2:3:3) )
Rank placement on the list prepared by SGS.


Details for my Son:
Name - Date of Birth
Candidate Number: 1234567

If you need any more information, kindly let me know as soon as possible.
More details about this request from ICO : https://ico.org.uk/your-data-matters/yo ... your-data/

Regards,
ABC


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2021 9:45 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2020 3:29 pm
Posts: 15
dh28 wrote:
Quote:
Could you please elaborate as to how to get that - is that via the "What do they know". Is there a particular process or request that needs to be made?


Normally the raw marks / standardised score information is only disclosed to students who do not pass the exams.

However, even if you pass the exams, GDPR rules still allow you to access your DC's marks in the SET stage 1 and stage 2 exams, but not their rank as compared against other students. Once you know raw marks and standardised score, you can then get a pretty good idea of the rank if you look at FOI requests on whatdotheyknow.

The data registrars for SET last year were Sutton Grammar School. I have listed the process to do the same in this post:

viewtopic.php?f=30&t=61569&start=10#p755459

Normally, I wouldn't have bothered with DS's performance in the exams (given that he had passed all exams he attempted). But we still have to go through the 11+ for younger one. As we needed to know the effort vs result, we made the SAR (Subject Access Request) for the elder one's marks in last year's SET exams.

Should be sent to "GDPR Officer & Clerk to the Governors", "Registrar" and "Data" officers in Sutton Grammar School, contact details here: https://www.suttongrammar.sutton.sch.uk ... port-staff

Quote:
To,
Data Protection Officer,
Sutton Grammar School

From:
ABC
1, PQR Road, Sutton, SM2 3AB

Dear Dr Wrench,

I would like to make a "Subject access request" under the Data Protection Act for the following information for my son, who attended both SET stage 1 and Stage 2 tests this year (on 11 Nov 2020 and 28 Nov 2020 respectively)? As the National offer day is over, releasing this information would not be in breach of school admissions code.

Data request for XYZ:

SET stage 1 and stage 2 raw marks
Standardised marks for Stage 1 (which would be looked at by Wallington School for preparing their rank list)
Ranking on list prepared for Wallington School
Final standardised marks (including both Stage 1 and Stage 2 (i.e. the standardised score which weighs SET stage 1 and SET stage 2 scores in ratio of 2:2:3:3) )
Rank placement on the list prepared by SGS.


Details for my Son:
Name - Date of Birth
Candidate Number: 1234567

If you need any more information, kindly let me know as soon as possible.
More details about this request from ICO : https://ico.org.uk/your-data-matters/yo ... your-data/

Regards,
ABC


Thanks dh28!


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2021 11:07 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2016 10:06 pm
Posts: 145
We did far less work and both DD's secured grammar school places, but as you say, it's difficult to gauge the amount of work that is needed.

I agree that Flashcards are brilliant. My DDs created flashcards whenever they came across a new word, in the end we had a box full of flashcards that we used to go through regularly. DD2 said that several of the words learned from flashcards had come up in the 11+ tests.

Neither of my DD did particularly well in the SGSPTA mock, but it gave them a kick up the backside and motivated them to work harder, so I definitely recommend it.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2021 12:21 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:38 am
Posts: 160
Golden75 wrote:
Neither of my DD did particularly well in the SGSPTA mock, but it gave them a kick up the backside and motivated them to work harder, so I definitely recommend it.


Having had a chance to properly look at the mock this year I was hugely disappointed to find plenty of stuff beyond KS2. I always tell parents that the use of it is not the test but the bits surrounding it - queueing, at a desk, lots of people etc.

The op is not going to be alone in doing that much practice. More practise means less mistakes that means that everyone else needs to make less mistakes etc etc....


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2021 1:08 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:41 pm
Posts: 10612
Location: Essex
Is the 'beyond KS2' content indicative of the real exam? And of so, is it such that a candidate would actually have had to have been taught beyond KS2 topics to be able to tackle the questions, or stuff that can be tackled, applying thought to the subject, using knowledge which they actually can be assumed to have (iyswim?). (I remember having complete brain failure when trying to answer one of my O level Maths questions and resorting to drawing myself a little diagram and counting to get to the answer).

If the former, then that is shameful. Asking something which 'sorts the sheep from the goats' but is not an impossible ask, overall, whatever the candidate's background, is one thing, but including content which is only going to have been met by a certain subsection of the group is quite another.

_________________
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.Groucho Marx


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2021 2:03 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2009 3:01 pm
Posts: 10342
Location: Herts
What was in Sutton mock Q that is not in KS2?

Are you talking about the English paper or the Maths paper or both? DG


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