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(151 Posts)
GracieW Sat 23-Jun-12 21:49:06

How much time does your Year 5 DC spend working for this (either tutoring or homework)?

Just want to get an idea of the time commitment...


RedVW Tue 26-Jun-12 23:40:58

I have 2 children at state grammar in Birmingham where 4,500 take exams for 600 places at 5 grammar schools. Many of the 15,000 children in Birmingham who move to secondary each year opt out of taking test and quite a few from surrounding counties take Foundation exam. There is no catchment area so I suppose these schools are classed as super selectives.

Don't believe everything you hear about the amount of tutoring (paid for and DIY) that children do. I think some people like to exaggerate to show their children in a good light, that they should be in such a school because they like studying. I also believe it is what the parents want for their children rather than what the children want in some cases.

If your child is near or at the top of the year, enjoys learning and will succeed in an environment where children want to learn, move along at a good pace, happy to do nightly homework, then preparing them for the 11+ is an option. it isn't just about passing a one-off exam, it is about 7 years of their lives in such an environment.

Some areas of the country have grammars that take the top 25% whilst others take the top 5%. The amount and type of preparation depends on your child, what you and your child want over the next several years, the school(s) you are applying for, the county it is in and the competition for places. Although some of the members of the forum are quite intense, I would suggest you view for more information about the schools you might want to apply for, have a chat with your child and visit the schools to see for yourself and to motivate your child.

Although SAT levels are an indicator of the ability of your child, the 11+ is very different and tests potential rather than what children have learnt and remembered. I know of supposed level 6 children who didn't get into grammar schools and some level 4s who have. One doesn't know how your child will perform on the day - the elevenplus website forum is littered with examples of very bright children whose parents have been through a very traumatic appeal process to demonstrate their child's level of ability, because they didn't perform to the level expected of them on the 11+ exam day.

Please do your research and if it is something you and your child want to attempt, then put in place a realistic plan to prepare for it, including allowing plenty of time (9 months to a year at the most), understanding what your child should know, practice papers, a mock exam to get them used to exam conditions, time away from studying, paperwork to be completed for the school and the county authority and the timescales associated with this. If it takes several hours of extra study each week, perhaps it is not for your child. Many children who don't get into grammars as they didn't score highly enough or didn't take the 11+ do very well.

I hope this is useful and good luck.

mumzy Wed 27-Jun-12 21:52:59

Friends who have put dc for 11+ have rewarded them for putting the work in rather than on whether they passed the exam which is very sensible IMO. Think one got an iPhone and the other one chose a much wanted pet!

GracieW Wed 27-Jun-12 21:55:36

Red that is really interesting. DS's teacher certainly thinks he is grammar school material but he hasn't seen the schools yet (open eves in Sept, 11+ in our area in Oct). The local comprehensive is good and lots of his friends are going there and not taking the exam so we will see what he thinks.

He did a practice maths paper today and did ok but messed up the answer sheet (missed out one answer but didn't notice on the sheet so they were all out) - I said it didn't matter today but it would in the real test. Hopefully the practice papers will help him as we go along. Am going to get the 10 minute tests as today's was 50 minutes and by the time we've gone through the answers it takes ages!

The pass rate here (Bucks) seems to be around the top 20% and he is in the top sets at school (and is the top boy in the class) but who knows...

GracieW Wed 27-Jun-12 21:57:23

mums we're NOT getting a pet and even I don't have an iphone! He is very good at putting the work in (which really helps with getting his siblings to do their homework too grin)

CouthyMow Wed 27-Jun-12 22:12:50

DS1 does a timed 10 min test each day, but he usually finishes in 3-4 mins, after checking. He without fail is getting 100% in the VR, NVR (which we do as an extra because he finds it fun, our area doesn't test NVR), and Maths, and either 90% or 100% in the English.

He has also done timed 30 min prep papers made by my Nan, who tutors in a different area (Herts), and routinely gets 95% or above. He has done a full length timed test in each of Maths, English and VR. He got marked by my Nan as getting 100% in Maths, 95% in English, and 99% in VR.

She regularly emails me a passage from a 19th Century book for him to answer questions on. The last one was A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Two years ago in Essex, the English paper was to read an excerpt from Captain Corelli's Mandolin and answer questions on it. It has gone into folklore locally as the hardest 11+ exam ever.

My nan tells me that the most important thing is to ensure that your DC has come across all different types of book, especially 19th Century Books, so that thru have a basic understanding of the language used.

CouthyMow Wed 27-Jun-12 22:14:00

Excuse my rather irritatingly irksome Autocorrect!

GracieW Wed 27-Jun-12 22:36:14

Heh heh he's going to love looking at 19th century literature - not grin

letseatgrandma Thu 28-Jun-12 21:19:02

Two years ago in Essex, the English paper was to read an excerpt from Captain Corelli's Mandolin and answer questions on it. It has gone into folklore locally as the hardest 11+ exam ever.

I think the Tess paper was harder ;)

OhDearConfused Fri 29-Jun-12 16:48:40

The 11PlusForum is full of very very very scary obssessive mums even more so than MN.

I found this about Tiffin (superselective) preparation:

"Weekly Plan:

1) Category Cards = 3 (I have made picture category cards for every category imaginable, (vehicles, birds, cats, cooking utensils, tools, musical instruments, etc) and for example, the 'Tree' card has pictures of all the types of trees we have ever come across) and we use these games to play memory games.
2) First Aid Pages = 2
3) Writing, once a week
4) Reading to mum (electronic dictionary at hand, ruler to underline unknown words and pen to write definition in the margin, plus notepad to make a list of words for new flashcards)
5) Bonds Maths papers


1) Flash Cards = 14 new cards and testing previous cards
2) Times Tables, once a week (15 minute drill)
3) Mental Arithmetic once a week.(15 minute drill)
4) Reading to mum"


What on earth is a "cateogry card" or a "first aid page"? confused

I am hoping that this is just completely OTT and crazy and most people just do a little preparation (with or without tutor) and just get on with it. This type of obsessive behaviour may help a little (only "may" - you can always overprepare) but then even if it did and then you still failed - after all that..

mumzy Fri 29-Jun-12 18:13:48

For the Tiffin test you don't plough your way through 19th century novels you rote learn a great big long list of very hard words and their antonyms/ synonyms/homophones which very few ten year old would know naturally.

mumzy Fri 29-Jun-12 18:15:58

And their NVR exams could be used by M16 to recruit code breakers

Yellowtip Fri 29-Jun-12 19:10:53

OhDearConfused that parent is way over the top.

I think that it's very hard to gauge what as a parent one should do, over and above what is done in terms of ordinary day to day teaching at school. I can see now (on my eighth child/ 11+er) that it depends a lot on the school.

If a child is predicted high level 5s at the end of Y6 and has a reasonable school, IME the best thing to do is to buy the practice tests appropriate for the school and do one every week, whenever it fits with home life, in the summertime run up to the test. There's a real danger of overdoing it. It's true that there's always going to be a cluster around the mark which divides those who get in and those who don't, which is hard, but not being over the top with preparation must help that sort of a child succeed and also help with the fallout (or lack of it) if on the day of the test he's down on his luck.

3monkeys Fri 29-Jun-12 19:16:35

DS1 got 100% last year in his 11 plus. He had 2 hours tutoring per week for 11 months and about 1 hour's homework per week. DD does hers this year, she will only have been to tutor for 8 months and does less than an hour homework smile

GracieW Fri 29-Jun-12 21:55:57

That Tiffin test sounds a nightmare - how does any child have time to play / spend time doing what they want to when they're being tested to the limit like that?

Also agree that failure of the test should not be the end of the world. Have said to DS that the advantage of passing is that he gets more choice of which school he can go to (although if he prefers the comp to grammar that won't work particularly well...)

mumzy Fri 29-Jun-12 22:00:10

Just for the record the most used text in 11+ exams seems to be "Wind in the Willows"

lostinfrance Fri 29-Jun-12 22:08:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CecilyP Fri 29-Jun-12 23:15:21

How do you do that looking, lostinfrance?

shoobidoo Sat 30-Jun-12 07:43:31

Perhaps I'm too cynical but I wonder if tutors themselves are behind all this 'hype' hmm

Our prep school advises against tutoring and that secondaries can tell if a child has been merely coached or is genuinely bright .

Yellowtip Sat 30-Jun-12 08:37:50

The hype feeds itself too shoobidoo. It's very damaging in terms of deterring the parents of clever children who can't afford tutoring from applying to state grammars. I think some parents who can afford the tutoring like to add to the hype as a disincentive to other comers too; some of these parents seem ruthless.

CecilyP Sat 30-Jun-12 08:59:43

Agree with you, yellowtip, as I think most people would, that the parent above is way over the top. If the exam is based on NC subjects and the child is already excelling, there is probably no need to do anything. Where the exam is VR/NVR, this is not something a primary school will not be covering. It is a competition, and people will train for a competition. Tutoring, whether it is a paid tutor or the DIY variety, is that training.

Yellowtip Sat 30-Jun-12 09:05:38

Definitely agree that a child needs to be familiar with VR/ NVR before the day of the test. But there seems to be an idea that a paid for tutor is superior and worse still, required - it's that which acts as a deterrent and over gentrifies the state grammars, which fact can then in itself deter.

3monkeys Sat 30-Jun-12 11:05:11

The reason for tutoring for us was to familiarise them with the exams. They are both naturally bright, especially DS1, and we felt that the grammar school was right for him, so we wanted to give him the best chance. Some around us are tutored for years. If I had the patience,I could have done it myself, but piano practice doesn't go down well, let alone 11+ papers!

OhDearConfused Sat 30-Jun-12 16:32:01

RedVW curious to know why you say these GSs (certainly the supervariety) look for potential when many (or at least the ones I would be considering – such as Tiffin) are notorious for tutoring for entry. And how can you check potential when all you are doing is marking a multi-choice VR/NVR paper?

mumzy For the Tiffin test … you rote learn a great big long list of very hard words and their antonyms/ synonyms/homophones which very few ten year old would know naturally.

How do you know / find out what long words to learn?

Tiffin say in their admissions policy: The tests are prepared and the results standardised, exclusively for the Tiffin Schools, by GL Assessment (formerly the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER)) and differ from any tests which are publicly available to parents. Past test papers are similarly not available; however practice papers are produced by GL Assessment and are widely available at stationers. The unique nature of the tests make is difficult to prepare for the tests as they are not based on the content of the School’s Curriculum. However, familiarisation elements, which are not marked, are included.

So what is in the test? It is different from anything which is “publicly available” – yet they say “practice papers are produced by GL Assessment”. Are the latter similar to the Tiffin test or not?

Thanks for the tip on Wind in the Willow – although not enough pirates or explosions for my DS…. smile

Sorry to focus on Tiffin – perhaps I should start another thread….

lostInFrance As a teacher in a super selective school I would advise against coaching, prepping, cramming - whatever you want to call it. We look for naturally bright, rounded children who have potential and a desire to learn.

But how do you find that when you can’t interview? How can you tell someone has been tutored or not from a test (certainly – obviously your school may not use these – when the test is NVR/VR).

I do suspect the points about 'hype' is right. I don't think I will go in for intensive tutoring, just a little practice/familiarisation/timed tests etc - as LostInFrance says - avoid burnout. Nonetheless, I would like to know what I should be practicing for the relevant schools (again, if the Tiffin test is so unique, will a Bond paper not help).

saintlyjimjams Sat 30-Jun-12 16:58:32

I have a friend who's son got into St Olave's on 6 weeks tutoring (yes he is bright) but they turned it down (thought it looked too pressurised).

Ds2 is in year 5. He isn't having paid tutoring. We have been going through past papers and Bond practice papers. The biggest problem (imo) is that so much of the work is new. We started in the Spring on Year 5 but we expected the exams to be next January, not September. hmm He has a short lesson at school each week as well and homework from that. His maths has really improved with practice (although he's still a bit hit and miss), but his English comprehension less so (rest of his English is fine).

We went to see the local comp last week and loved it, so that's taken the pressure off a bit, might be first choice anyway. His school think he will pass, I'm less certain (he's bright, performs well in terms of levels, when we looked round the comp came top in some fun maths test they were running but the style of questioning in the 11 plus doesn't really suit him, imo - could go either way I think).

Most of ds2's classmates are being tutored - some for quite a few hours each week.

letseatgrandma Sat 30-Jun-12 18:54:31

Can I ask those of you who have Y5s sitting the 11+ this year-what sort of level are they working at in Maths/Reading at school?

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