Winchester College - May 2015 Entrance Exam - preparation tips

(27 Posts)
24663664 Wed 23-Apr-14 21:38:14

After much research, bolstered by very helpful and kindly provided MN intelligence, we have concluded that (for DS) whilst many UK schools are fine music indeed, Win Coll is nothing short of grand opera.

DS has a firm place at Win Coll, subject to passing the May 2015 Entrance Exams. His prep school is really great, but we want to leave nothing to chance; we have been going through some of the May 2013 papers this Easter (English and Maths) which, amazingly, DS has positively enjoyed (almost as much as, ahem, his computer games).

Any tips to help DS secure his place at Win Coll in September 2015 would be so much appreciated. He wants to be sure that even on an off day, he can still pass the difficult exams. DS is desperately keen on Win Coll and he has no second choice. Thus the stakes are high...

Only just over a year to go now...

Thank you in advance.

poppycarew Wed 23-Apr-14 23:13:56

Have PMed you

happygardening Wed 23-Apr-14 23:33:34

Does your prep regularly send boys to Win Coll if yes then frankly I wouldn't worry they know what they are doing.
The ones to watch is the Latin the final section is AS level standard and the marking is far from generous, the last couple of questions on the maths paper and the MFL paper they are expected to know all tenses, and unlike CE you don't know exactly what will be asked in the oral. I think the boys are expected to use all tenses in the oral in a role play: I lost my train ticket yesterday and would like to purchase another ticket today for tomorrow's train. We had this book ?100 commen French verbs and all the tenses and we just went through it and a Latin vocabulary list and we just went over them all.
I think as I said before there is no pass mark you just get a grade A-D most boys get a mixture of B's, C's and D's and some get the odd A. When the results are given to the school your told approximately where they've come, top 25 etc. every year a couple fail but you'd have to do disastrously.

24663664 Thu 24-Apr-14 07:09:41

Dear PC and HG - very helpful indeed. Synthesising what you are each saying is much helping with a strategy which will get DS into Win Coll. Thanks again, we feel much better, 24663664.

summerends Thu 24-Apr-14 08:18:14

24663664 I would have thought he and the school should be considering the Election if he is doing well in the entrance papers and enjoying them a year before he will be taking them.

24663664 Thu 24-Apr-14 13:54:14

Thanks Summerends, an interesting, goodly and kind thought. We don't think that DS is likely to be Election material - but that does not bother him in the slightest. He just wants to get into Win Coll and tells us that even if he is bottom of the class, he still wants a place! Dedication indeed, not everyone can be top after all!

However, you have my neurones firing now. If a boy does very well in the Entrance Exams, will HM perchance boot him out of Chawker's, cover him in black and confine him to College? Would be facinated to know! Thanks again Summerends for the insights, 24663664.

almapudden Thu 24-Apr-14 14:10:34

If he doesn't sit the Election, he won't be promoted to College!

The Latin is very tricky but it's the first section of the paper which counts most. Make sure he knows his declensions and principal parts thoroughly - the grammar section only consists of about ten questions, but it's worth 30% of the paper, so can make up for a weak second translation.

The last section of the Latin paper is not AS standard (the Election is, though!) - in grammar terms it's equivalent to CE level 3, but the passage is very long and the syntax more challenging, largely due to the length of the sentences.

If your son's prep sends boys to Winchester, Eton, KCS, St Paul's or Westminster they should be able to prepare him for the Latin without any problem, but he will need to familiarise himself with the layout of the paper if the school doesn't provide special Winchester prep sessions.

summerends Thu 24-Apr-14 14:28:39

Only those sitting Election can go to College, conversely some of the highest performers in Election choose exhibitions so as to stay in their selected house. The advantage of sitting Election is particularly relevant for initial maths setting as the higher sets will be predominantly those who have attempted both or one of the Election papers. Top sets for Latin and other languages contain a mixture of Election and high performers from entrance. Obviously all this changes but sometimes the very fast pace and extension work in the top sets makes it more difficult to catch later.
Don't forget that a boy does not need to be strong in all areas. If your DS is very strong in maths and sciences he may enjoy tackling the election papers.

abear Thu 24-Apr-14 14:46:10

24663664 we are in the same position as you so reading this with interest. Latin is certainly our problem and reading this I think we may need to get a tutor as our prep doesn't typically send boys to Winchester and I think it may be the only way to bridge the gap.

Xpatmama88 Thu 24-Apr-14 16:18:50

DS went from Int'l Sch to Win coll, I had to help him prepare for the entrance exam. We got an exemption for Latin because Int'l Sch did not teach that subject, but he had to choose another subjects for the exam instead. He still needed to learn Latin himself, so we did some online course through Cambridge Latin.
He did well in his entrance exams, and was placed in top set in maths, science, and MFL, with many scholars and exhibtioners in his set. It is fast pace learning. His top set maths already covered most of the Pre U syllabus. He is only taking his IGCSE in May.

almapudden Thu 24-Apr-14 16:35:25

Abear - definitely worth tutoring if your prep doesn't prepare for Winchester entrance. Do many boys sit level 3 at CE? If so, then you might be okay with a bit of top-up tuition, but if most boys sit levels 1 and 2, then your son will definitely need some significant support.

abear Thu 24-Apr-14 16:58:19

almapudden, yes there are others doing level 3 at CE and boys doing scholarships for Eton, Sevenoaks and Tonbridge so the school has been good in giving extra lessons and work to them as a group in most subjects but it is great to receive any advice you have and I shall set about finding a tutor for some top up work.

happygardening Thu 24-Apr-14 19:09:41

We showed past Win Coll Latin exam papers (not election) to a friend who tutors Latin with great success at all levels from CE level 3 to those doing Greats at Oxbridge although it does have to be said that he's tutoring with the sim of his pupils getting top marks. We had also kindly been given by a Win Coll an analysis of what they were looking for and their marking. He was adament the last section could be found on an AS paper and he was surprised at how hard the marking was. He assured me that it was nothing like level 3 CE. DS2's prep had a long and successful teaching level 3 CE Latin but were doing a pretty lousy job getting him ready for the exam.
My DS found IGCSE Latin, the unseen part, very easy as it was "very similar" to the work he did for the entrance exam, and we were told again by this friend that IGCSE Latin is AS level standard in places certainly the current set text would not be found on a GCSE paper. Again to be successful and achieve 95% + apparently like the entrance exam you can't "wing" it.

24663664 Thu 24-Apr-14 23:37:26

'Quirky' - this word often appears in threads describing some boys at Win Coll but the term is not defined. I would be fascinated for some insight on possible definitions of the term as I don't fully see what is meant by it.

Using DS as an example (a) we took him to the ballet at Christmas and he loved it but wants nobody to know (it is not manly to like the ballet apparently!) (b) he sings along to opera (but denies that he likes it) (c) loves classical music and shows no interest in pop (finds it unsatisfying) (d) going for a Win Coll Music Award (but scared stiff of the commitment accruing from it). Does this sort of thing fit the definition of being 'quirky' or is poor DS just as mad as a hatter?

In anticipation of some wise thoughts I am yet again indebted to you all...24663664.

happygardening Fri 25-Apr-14 00:08:16

My DS has been described as "eccentric" and "intellectual" by teachers since starting at his boarding prep in yr 2 and why Win Coll was recommended within weeks of him starting. The school traditionally fed into Eton in those days.
Frankly I've always thought he's the most normal one of the lots of us but then we're all really eccentric so in comparison he looks more normal.
My DS (like me) doesn't give two hoots what people think of him, he's also a born non conformist /rule breaker, every rule he doesn't like has to be kicked back against (it does get tiring in the end but he hasn't learnt this yet) and like me doesn't/can't/won't walk in step with others. He is also like me not a team player (although unlike me he's not yet learned that there are times when you have to pretend to be one). Finally like me he's out spoken and not afraid to speak his mind, some would call it tactless, hopefully he doesn't put his foot in it as often as I do. The nice thing is that the school hasn't tried to make him fit the box, we felt other schools might and I know he would be unhappy if he felt he was expected to do this.
But there are many different personalities at a Win Coll many Ive met seem pretty normal, and conventional with nice normal conventional parents. Most of the boys I've come into contact with are not just polite but really good fun, they're often unsurprisingly very quick witted and articulate and can be sharp with their words, definitely not tolerating fools or arrogance in others. On the other hand they themselves tend to be rather self effacing and I think have a slight unworldliness about at them at times which I quite like and that I don't see in other schools.
Others of course may disagree.

almapudden Fri 25-Apr-14 06:51:44

Happy gardening - I am currently a prep school Latin teacher and also taught up to A level for three years, and I would say that the second section is approaching GCSE level. It's syntactically complicated, sure, but in terms of the actual grammar required, there's nothing that isn't on the level 3 syllabus.

summerends Fri 25-Apr-14 07:22:55

Winchester may not be unique in this but it does seem to allow boys to be 'cool' but also not to have to camouflage and even be able positively thrive by developing any 'quirky' aspects of their personality (which makes them a three dimensional person). I think in certain types of public and prep schools boys would see certain aspects of their character as weaknesses and therefore focus on things they like that more fit the mould. Winchester has boys who are very streetwise and cool but also love poetry or Shakespeare and share that with their friends. Obviously there are also boys who are not 'cool' but their interests are again able to be shared and appreciated by the other boys. BTW music award holders do not have any onerous duties apart for the choir for those who are very good singers.

24663664 Fri 25-Apr-14 07:53:54

There is this poster, 24663664
Whose Win Coll questions could be described as galore
If you're bored to retort
MN has that option 'Report'
And 24663664 is no more...

Sorry, couldn't help it...I'm the quirky one maybe...please forgive all my excess questions...but all your postings are as singularly revealing as they are fascinating! Thank you.

watchdog4 Sun 04-May-14 21:02:07

My 2 children were at WinColl a couple of years ago, one held a Music Award and the other was a Double Scholar Music/Academic. WinColl doesn't like boys who are too over coached. They like natural curiosity, independent learners etc. If your son's prep school is not familiar about sending boys to WinColl then your son should attempt the Election so he would increase his chances of getting accepted at WinColl even though you are not thinking of scholarship. In the recent years, I have noticed the current Masters of College already make up his mind who he wants to elect as a scholar in the College house even before the Election. If your son is elected to stay at the Scholars' House (College House) during the Election - you have 99.9% chance to get into the Scholars' House. Ironically, some of the scholars have a very poor written (grammar)/spoken English and some are in second set but they have the false sense of pride - wearing the robe...........The current Master in College is a real savvy businessman, he is different from his predecessor who likes the balance in the Scholars' House. Nearly all who are elected in his recent roll comes from the movers and shakers background in this world! Gone are the days where the scholars in WinColl stay true to the school ethos - to educate the 70 scholars based on their own true potential regardless their background.

In short, if you want to get to the House of your choice, do the Election but don't hope too much for a promotion to the Scholars' House unless your son comes from the prep school which is familiar of the process and your family is liked by the Master of College.

24663664 Sun 04-May-14 21:33:49

Thank you for the fascinating intelligence on this matter, watchdog4. Most useful and our strategy for getting DS into Win Coll is further formed as a result.

Did your DSs enjoy holding the Music Award? I imagine that they did, it is a great honour to get one given only around 60 exist at Win Coll at any one time (Source: Prospectus 2013). Did the Music Award come with manageable music commitments, given the academic and sport requirements? Our DS would love a Music Award but is the sort of boy who would only accept it if he could be sure to do his side of the bargain.

Thanks for your guidance.

watchdog4 Mon 05-May-14 07:43:58

It all depends on which instrument your DS is playing if it is a wind instrument like my eldest DS, it will be less competitive than a string instrument. My second DS was a choir boy, so he was able to manage his music practice (including his cello) and academic commitments. The master of music is very helpful and will only take boys who are in his opinion able to juggle all aspects of WinColl. Good Luck to your DS and I hope the pre-audition goes well.

24663664 Mon 05-May-14 13:36:45

Thank you again, watchdog4. Very nice of you to take the time to write and provide this valuable guidance. I agree, the Master of Music Mr W is most helpful. Getting into Win Coll is nothing short of very difficult and the distillate of all such helpful guidance is of so much help in the life of a DS with aspirations of a Winchester education. My very best wishes to your DSs too as they progress through their education.

BeamMeUpNowPlease Wed 07-May-14 14:54:21

Not to hijack the thread but does anyone know whether a prep school would be expected to have WinColl past papers for practice? DS's doesn't seem to have many past papers, just a few old ones including one from 1997! I would have expected him to have been given recent ones to practice with but maybe Winchester doesn't give them out? I'm quite worried as DS says he did badly on one paper as the format/contents were very different to the papers he had been given by school to practice on.

grovel Wed 07-May-14 16:14:08
summerends Wed 07-May-14 19:58:19

Beammeup I am sure that some prep schools are more assiduous in the preparation than others but I would have thought that Winchester teachers know this. It would n't surprise me that they might change paper formats so as to better test core skills rather than memory. Even if your DS does n't get the grades he would like from the papers he has just sat, the exam is only a stepping stone and all part of the learning process.

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