Wesminster Under/Colet/King's College(29 Posts)
Hi all mums,
Need your help/advice with admissions to 7+ for our DS for 2016 intake. We have started preparing him since last month with bond books. He is quite strong in maths and unless makes some silly mistakes should be able to ace through it. Similarly his verbal/non-verbal reasoning are strengths and with enough exercise he should be able to deal with it. The problem we have are in some specific areas:
1. English comprehension / story writing: Looking at what everyone has been saying the standard seems quite high certainly compared to what he gets/does at school. His language skills are good but not extraordinary. He also struggles with abstarct and open-ended questions. Are there any good comprehension books we can use to practise? Also what are the type of topics that are given for story writing?
2. Interviews: What type of questions are asked in interviews? Are kids expected to display certain types of behaviours or just be themselves? Again how do we prepare? We are particularly worried about King's admissions as the first filter seems to be interview
3. Reading: There is a long list of books in Colet website such as Horrible History/Geography, Butterfly Lion, Rudyard Kipling book etc. While our DS has good reading skills (among the top 2 or 3 kids in his class) some books such as Horrible Histories are tough for a Yr1 kid to understand and appreciate on their own. So I wanted to understand what other mums and dads have done to prepare
4. Arts: In some schools (Westminster I think) there is also a test on arts - I may be wrong here. The trouble is this is the weakest point of our DS. We don't expect him to become very good at it in 7-8 months but we want him to at least have some sense of proportion and symmetry. Are there any good exercise books which can help him out?
5. Anything else I have missed out?
Appreciate it's a long long list. Thank you all in advance!
I am sure you'll get a lot of other great advice on here. Here are some comprehension sources that I thought were good:
- Collins and Schofield &Sims comprehension workbooks - look on Amazon and/or Schofield's website.
- Learning Resources Cards sets - there are different sets for various ages. This one is 8+. It has good mix of fiction/non-fiction comprehension exercises...
WUS emphatically doesn't have an art test. Boys who are brought back for interview do some sort of group activity which may be art-based , but this is to observe behaviour and the quality of art produced is not the point. Thankfully.
Not all boys like horrible history (or parents - I think them distasteful)and I personally wouldn't give them to a year 1 boy, but I suspect that is the year 3 reading list anyway. WUS at least only goes down to year 3.
While I can appreciate your desire to ensure your son is well-prepared, I think you are doing far too much! The 7+ test is a test for boys who are 6-7 years old! If your son is doing well at school, seems bright and engaged, can maintain a conversation with an adult (about topics relevant to a 6-7 year old!!), he will do fine. By "doing well at school" I mean having the ability to complete school work on his own, without adult input and with reasonable accuracy.
My son didn't touch a Bond book, didn't do any practice comprehensions nor any story writing other than what he did as part of his normal school work. We did not give him any practice interviews. We were relaxed because we didn't have our hearts set on any particular school. Perhaps the fact we were relaxed and put no pressure on our son helped him to approach the process calmly.
I think over-preparation is counter-productive and contributes to stress in children. Observe your child, see what he's capable of doing and chose a school that suits his own abilities.
(btw -- I think what you heard about a "test on arts" is that some of the interviews or group discussions include something along the lines of "what do you think of this painting" -- simply as a way to engage the children in discussion and see what sort of ideas they generate on their own, as opposed to what ideas have been put into their heads by parents and teachers who have sought to "prepare" them for interviews!)
My wife read this thread and asked me to respond as I have been mainly involved for his preparation for the 7+ exams.
We chose for our son WUS, although he had admission to all the leading schools (including Latymer and Wetherby plus the usual 3). He came from a State School and had no outside tutoring. However, parental guidance and work at home was necessary. We do not believe it is a good idea not to do so.
Our son was very good at Maths. So is your son. In that case, you should have no worry at all. We believe (but we cannot be sure) that he scored perfect scores in Maths in all the tests, and that carried him through. He is bi-lingual, English is not his mother tongue, and he is not good with the English idiom. But that did not matter in any school, because of his Maths and VR and NVR – all of which (we think) he scored perfect scores.
From Reception, he had been to Science Museum (perhaps 30 times, if not more), the Natural History Museum, the Greenwich Observatory. I (an occasional volunteer teacher in Maths up to A level) realized he loved numbers, and started discussing with him simple problems. He graduated to fractions and decimals by the end of Year 1 – when I stopped, as I realized he was bored in his State school. We did nothing in Year 2. Around the October midterms (before the January exams) we bought the Bonds books (and CGP books); we did the age 6, 7 and also year 8 with him. Maths was no problem, but he had serious comprehension ( or at least writing good English) problem. We got him to write 3 paras every week on anything interesting that had happened – beginning, middle and end paras maximum 15 sentences in all). There are serious concentration issues with a 6 year old boy – you can train him for only that long. Also, during the week he swam twice, played football, went to Spanish class (his mother tongue), had Chess club, and also had normal school HW – so, these extra work was reserved for the weekends.
I should add – get you son to read, or read out to him some (not all !) books from the CC list for 7year olds. He will develop vocabulary, which you can track in a notebook for new and nice words – to be revised before the exam.
Any of the best schools will develop any latent talents the student may have – but the student must have the talent in the first place. If your son is good in Maths, you may relax a bit on the other topics – they will realize his potential.
A final word – my wife read quite a few negative comments on the Master in various threads on WUS. Do not believe these. She is terrific! She has state school background, and has taught in both State and the Private sector, and she is warm, affectionate towards the students, and knows each of them well. The people who were disappointed with the Open Day forget that three hundred children descend with their parents in what is a small school (half the size of CC, which has also the resources of St Paul’s). It is normal for that to be chaotic – but mix with the teachers, and see them come alive when they talk of their students; observe the boards in the Maths room, and understand how much advanced for their age these students are being taught, and they (the students) love it!
On the KCJS I should add that in the 7+ interview in November they ask the boys (interviewed in pairs , my son from State school was pared with one from a prep school) to read a passage, and answer questions from the passage -- all orally , of course. Also, they are asked what multiplication tables they know, and are asked to recite it. My son told me that the other boy had gone for the 6 times table, and was stopped at 6x6 when he made some mistakes. My son, being a show off in Maths (believe me he was not trained, and I was equally surprised to hear this) said that he could do the 13 times table -- which he had not been taught, he knew up to 12 times table. But he adds very fast in his head, and did up to 13 x 6 when he was stopped.
They also asked about his family, what he would like to do when he grew up, and his favorite books.
I hope this helps. Best wishes. (We went for WUS, but KCJS is a wonderful school, great atmosphere, but a bit too far for us)
Socratesdad did WUS and KCJS tell you that your DS scored 100% in maths? I'm just curious how you found his exam results as I didn't think the schools tell you the 7+ results
Of course they did not, but Wetherby and Latymer did. I am guessing that Maths is a differentiator, and this was the key for my son.
In fact, the HM of Wetherby added in his own handwriting (after the usual type written acceptance letter) the additional comments.
I feel embarrassed to go on adding comments on our son. At the CC parents' interview, the first thing that the HM said was to remark on the short bio data of the dad, and ask if my teaching Maths at a secondary school had resulted in the great Maths score of our son!
From all these I have been convinced that Maths is nowadays a big differentiator, and we advise our friends accordingly. this was a few years back, but I think this generally holds. My wife adds that after the Open Day at WUS she had broached this question with the English Head as we were taken around the school, he had told her that a top Maths score with not so great English score would be very acceptable. Knowing our son's weakness this was a relief, and we believe this is what helped in our case.
Thanks socratesdad. I hear from other parents that composition is the tie breaker between boys who are equally good at maths as there are only correct or incorrect answers in maths. Can you tell me why you preferred WUS over CC?
WUS is a smaller school. We liked that.
It is closer to us -- 3 stops by tube to Pimlico.
We heard that there was streaming at year 3 itself at CC. We did not want this for our son.
We found in the Open Day the teachers to be very warm at WUS. My wife spent sometime talking to a young teacher who told her about his trip to India, his experience with Yoga .... Quite quirky, but enjoyable
Had he got only CC, and not WUS --- definitely we would have taken that.
KCJS results came at least 1 week earlier, and we had mentally prepared ourselves for the one hour commute daily. There is little to choose between these 3, but had we lived south of the river we would have found it difficult to chose between KCJS and WUS. The HM and the year 3 (head of form) were so nice and enthusiastic and full of charm at KCJS that we were sold on this school, and only the commuting difficulty led us elsewhere.
Best of luck
My son attends CC and has been there 3 years. I didn't prepare my son at all for the entrance exam. If a boy needs so much preparation then CC isn't for them, as he will find it a struggle and will constantly needs tutoring. CC has a knack of finding out which boys have been tutored and which are naturally gifted or able. Part of the entrance assessment doesn't involve exams and boys attend 'lessons' in groups of 3. If you feel your child need tuition in exam technique then this would be helpful. The boys are constantly being tested, examined and assessed and they work extremely hard. My son loves it. Best wishes to you.
Just to avoid mis-information: there is no streaming at CC in Year 3 (ie what other schools call Year 3 -- 8 year olds). In Year 5, there is streaming in Maths (two sets, with half the boys in each set). In Year 6, there are two sets for French as well as for Maths and in Year 7 there are two sets for Latin. In each of these subjects, the curriculum is the same in the two sets and the exams are the same. The top set (especially in Maths) moves at a faster pace and has time for some "extension" work but, otherwise, the work in the two sets is similar and the sets are fluid (ie boys move from set 1 to set 2 or from set 2 to set 1 if teachers think they could benefit from differentiated teaching).
Lokhi2 -- it sounds like you chose the right school for your son. I do think, however, the amount of preparation you did with him is staggering. As I said above -- and as LynetteS said -- it is not necessary to extensive preparation (or any at all) if a child is bright and progressing well at a school that follows a normal curriculum.
Seems every boy applying CC/WUS/KCS is exceptionally good at Math/VR/NVR. Then how could the schools choose from the list of very closely packed high scorers? Would siblings then gain an advantage in this process? I heard people say the top3s don't have siblings policy but is it really, as I also heard many families managed to send all their boys through to those same schools? I kind of wonder how they managed to achieve this and surely not all their boys can be equally G/T?
SuperWorried -- CC does not have a sibling policy. Many boys have siblings at other schools either because the siblings were not offered a place at CC or because parents decided another school was more suitable. My impression is that not all boys applying (or accepted) are "exceptionally good at Math/VR/NVR". Other talents are also valued -- i.e. writing, ability to carry on a conversation with an adult, ability to get along well with other children in the interview group, etc. I think the qualitative reports from prior schools are important as they offer insights into how the children get on in a normal school environment, not just on a test on a particular day.
Rumor has it that the top3 schools will only consider boys having a minimum IQ of 125. I'm not even sure how schools can obtain such IQ scores for a 6 year old without some specialists help. Is it true that boys currently at the top3 are all that bright? I'm thinking of putting DS into the 2016 exams but am not really sure that's worth the effort giving all the mystics surround the top3. We haven't started preparing the boy and though he seems academically able at school but here we are talking about little 6-year-old kid who doesn't even know what a real exam is like, no least the 3-hour formal exams in a few months time! The whole schooling education certainly have changed since our old time and recently moving to west london certainly have given us a shock on this topic...
SuperWorried -- I have no idea what my son's IQ is! Please don't listen to rumours! Clearly, the boys at most of these schools are bright and eager to learn and they have a wide range of interests and talents. But they are not -- or do not seem to be -- geniuses!
You are absolutely correct that the tests are for 6- or 7-year-olds and are designed accordingly, with breaks for the children to run-around and other measures to make the experience enjoyable. Have a look at the websites to see what topics are covered. If you think your son is familiar with most of the topics/concepts, then apply. If not, then wait for a later entry point. While it might be useful to do a few practice VR and NVR tests (if your son's school doesn't incorporate them into the curriculum), I think it is unfair to pressure a child to prepare for exams at such an early age!!
CC has a knack of finding out which boys have been tutored and which are naturally gifted or able
Completely agree. Our DC were very happy there, and had minimal prep - don't play any musical instruments and are not geniuses.
Thanks cherokeee and MrsUltraC. Perhaps the reason you don't see your boys as geniuses in school is because all of them are and thus every boy looked 'normal' as they are in the similar (exceptionally high) level. As to tutoring, I guess the schools will only be able to spot whether a boy is naturally talented or not at the interview stage, which means the boys still have to pass the first round of written exams to stand a chance. It's the first round that I'm most worried about with DS as I don't intend to get DS into heavy tutoring at such tender age. But if he's not tutored, will he be of big disadvantage against those tutored ones during the first round?
Slightly different as my DS is in Year 5 but he sat the exams for CC last December (10+ deferred entry). He is bright but definitely not a genius. He wasn't tutored like many were and just did some Bond books and past papers with me at home. He got through to interview but didn't get a place. The feedback was that they were close to offering a place but he wasn't quite up to speed with his comprehension and vocabulary. He is an August baby and so the youngest in his year which they appreciated. To give you an idea - he is in a state primary, one of the top couple for Maths/English. His reading/comprehension is strong but not as strong as the maths/VR/Writing which they said was at the level they require.
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