Westminster Under 7+ entry discussion

(20 Posts)
Annamaria77 Thu 19-Nov-15 00:59:42

Hi, I was reading some old threads about WU and was wondering whether anyone else's DS is doing 7+ in Jan 2016? Also would be really interested to know how difficult the exam really is and what experience did people have in the years past.

My son is also sitting Latimer, Colet Court, UCS and Highgate exams. But it is Westminster Under which I worry about most. So if anyone else is sitting WU, we could share our tips/info/experience here. The only recommendation I could see on their site is about Bond books - but it doesn't say which year. We are doing Bond Books years 7-8 and I wonder if we should be doing 8-9 in order to reach WU level.

MMmomKK Thu 19-Nov-15 09:52:49

If your DS is consistently fast and correct on 7-8, then of course you should do 8-9.

SuperWorried Thu 19-Nov-15 10:42:29

DS also sits for WUS. We put WUS as a 2nd choice on the application form so not sure whether this will be a factor against us when the school makes the selection.

Back to your question, I don't think the last two months will make much difference in DS's chances other than perhaps getting him used to the exam formats. I've been told stories about boys being crammed right up to the exam days and they simply couldn't handle on the day. So I'm taking a light touch approach and DC has been doing year 7-8 stuffs too. My thinking is the exam won't go beyond the curriculum over year 8 so there's not much point in pushing the poor kid into learning new stuff if he hasn't mastered the basics solidly. So no tutors for DS so far and he has been leading a happy school life so far. Time will tell on the exam days and I may be proven totally wrong ...

Good luck to us all and hope to see comments from those more experienced.

Thankgoditsover Thu 19-Nov-15 11:20:45

Blimey where do you live as Highgate and CC are a long way apart...

We did 11+ for two of these, not 7. I think it probably helps if your boy can write a coherent story and do a good comprehension as from what I gather this is where they can best differentiate.

Annamaria77 Thu 19-Nov-15 12:28:54

In 7-8 Bond he does 30 out of 30 in math but way below this in comprehension (23 - 26). I think generally boys are very good with facts but not very good in reading through emotions. Questions like "What worried Jenny most when she arrived to the camp?" can throw him into confusion. I can see why men are from Mars smile

Annamaria77 Thu 19-Nov-15 12:44:46

To SuperWorried - we also decided against tutoring - no point of pushing a child into a school in which he or she will be struggling afterwards - so we decided that DS will just try his best and that'll be it.

Good luck to you too!

SuperWorried Thu 19-Nov-15 12:51:33

Annamaria77 - DS is similar, quite solid in Maths but with careless mistakes every now and then. Same issue with comprehension like yours and he writes with too wild imagination. But I suppose this is normal given they are just 6 year old natural kids who should be allowed to dream and be happy. Best of luck!

Annamaria77 Thu 19-Nov-15 12:54:48

To Thankgoditsover: yes, I know smile We are in the middle between the two schools, a bit closer to Highgate, but both would be quite a nightmare to get to, - luckily both have school buses.
Yes, story-writing and comprehension are most important, and our school is now working on all the children but with a very varying degree of success. It's the use of interesting vocabulary and plot, plus a clear structure of the narrative they are after - not always easy. Our stories tend to be extra factual: "One day I woke up, brushed my teeth, had breakfast and went to school. On the way I met and killed a horrible green monster. For lunch I had cheese pizza and some fruit. After school I did my homework. For supper I had some pasta. Then I went to bed. The end." I wonder if this is just male mind that is straightforward and uncomplicated, or I am a bag of fantasies? When I write a story it has very little to do with facts, mostly with fiction...

Annamaria77 Thu 19-Nov-15 12:57:12

"and he writes with too wild imagination" Ha-ha! you are lucky! See above smile

Thankgoditsover Thu 19-Nov-15 14:05:25

Oh I see. Even with a school bus that's going to be a brutal journey. My son's now journey is 25 mins door-to-door and he's exhausted (and 11 so at least he can do it on public transport without me). Don't underestimate it - if you get UCS, I'd for that if I were you (if my geography is correct!).

My son has no imagination, strangely since he's a big reader of wonderfully imaginative books. You could perhaps read lots of great books with yours and, gently, try to point out how the author has created an atmosphere. Setting the scene can be quite an easy way into description - on your example, could you ask him to describe the weather, the street, the feel of the pavement beneath his feet.

I felt that reading together was a lovely and enriching thing for us to do, regardless of the school entrance. I was very ambivalent about the whole school exam thing anyway so learning verbal reasoning words by rote felt like a waste of time.

Oh and five exams is a lot isn't it? Are they spread apart?

Annamaria77 Thu 19-Nov-15 14:42:21

Ha-ha! Must be the male mind smile my son reads loads (reading age 12 tested last year when he was just 6) but when it comes to the actual understanding of what is going on, he only gets the facts : how many legs did the creature had. What colour was the Princess's dress. How many teeth the monster had. Why the Dragon only had one leg. Ask him "why do you think the Princess got angry and decided to react in the way she reacted?" and he gets totally lost smile
We did start reading together now, and I am finding more and more that he really doesn't get the emotional/moralistic side of the story at all! Makes me understand men much better now smile
You're right - UCS is nearest to us. If we end up there, it's fine - I like the school and the Headmaster. But we are trying other 4 just to have more choice. Our son loves tests and exams - he thinks it's a fantastic competitive field game smile may be because we are not dead serious about them - so he doesn't feel pressurised.

SuperWorried Thu 19-Nov-15 15:32:35

Annamaria77 - Seems you should have nothing to worry about your DS. He should pass those exams with flying colour without any issues. Mine, though loves reading, is nowhere near the age 12 reading level. I'll just let him enjoy the exams as just another set of games. Super worried as parent I just don't want to pass on the stress to the little one. After all, from what I learned from mumsnet those schools we are talking about are for the truly naturally bright kids and brightness is hard to fake or mold.

princessna Thu 19-Nov-15 16:10:30

I wouldn't underestimate how much a morning of exams takes out of a little one. WUS, Latimer, Colet Court, UCS and Highgate sounds like a bit too much if you are taking it super seriously, especially since each school has a bit of a different format and you need to taylor the prep. My son wrote 2 of these in 2015 and is at one now, one of his peers also wrote 5 school and it was just too much. Only got into 1 in the end anyway.....

Annamaria77 Thu 19-Nov-15 18:58:45

To SW: totally agree about natural brightness; but also there are kids who are not just bright but also very academic by nature; my son is bright but NOT academic - considering he counts everything that comes his way he'll end up in finance, I bet smile So we'll accept any school that'll take us, and try to make sure he's happy there. WU is for really academically inclined children, - we've signed for it on our Headmistress advice (I never thought of it myself). She said that though it's unlikely he'd get in, there's no harm in trying. She also recommended other 4 schools - and that answers Princessna concern: in our pre-prep teachers make a list of schools for each child which they think is suitable for that particular child to try. So we are just going with a flow and trying them all; and as for stress, DS loves tests, as it's a break of a school routine smile
So I thought I'll have this thread going in case there are other parents whose boys are sitting WU 7+ in January; but any other thoughts on other schools would be most welcome, too. I found it a bit isolating going around on open days surrounded by completely new sets of parents smile

Blossom8 Thu 19-Nov-15 19:30:24

out of interest how do you distinguished between academic and bright? Your son sounds very able and I'm surprised the headmistress does not think he will get into WU. Sounds like a certain that he would get in.

My DD will be doing the 7+ too in January but at a different school. Like your DS, enjoys homework and doing tests. We do Bond books and past test papers but I don't want to go through stuff with her that are beyond her years as I would have thought the exams would cover the relevant age group and not beyond?

Annamaria77 Thu 19-Nov-15 21:09:26

Blossom, to answer your question: I think that on top of usual things (reading, math and witty answers) one absolutely essential feature of being "academic" as opposed to (or additional to) "bright" is the natural ability to write. It doesn't matter whether a future "academic" will be excelling in nuclear physics, math, English or biology, he or she will have to go through an awful lot of writing, starting with a degree, MPhil, PhD and then a post doc. I believe that at 7 it is already possible to say which child is an artistic/ musical/creative type, and which on is an "academic" type. By 11 it is probably even more obvious. I come from a very "academic" family (both parents with PhD, etc, (and so is my husband), and I remember my terribly academic cousins when we were growing up - my son is nothing like that. He is a "doer" - either in engineering or math, or possibly architecture (I was trained as an architect myself though no longer work in this area). There is a certain degree of reflection in an "academically inclined" child. Even at 7 I can see that in some of my son's classmates. But I don't see it in him. He is very, very quick-witted, gives very bright answers and very keen on jokes but he is not "cerebral" which is essential for being considered "academic". And he hates writing! smile)
So we are trying WU with a degree of detachment but trying it nonetheless.

And it would be good to meet others who are doing the same.

Michaelahpurple Fri 20-Nov-15 08:24:34

Tip re the stories , don't get too hung up on structuring ploy. Lots of books and tutors bang on about 3 o even 5 part structures with beginnings, key action, resolution, ending etc. but the schools are more interested in some decent description and style, not elaborate plot. If you think about it, in the time they have it just isn't practical to come up with a complete story in three parts. For this reason, and to try to cut down on boys regurgitating "canned" stories, they tend to give a first paragraph and tell them to go from there, or ask what happens next based on the comprehension text etc

Blossom8 Fri 20-Nov-15 10:20:17

agree with Michaelahpurple after looking at some past 7+ English papers. Wishing your DS well in his January exams, I'm sure he will do very well.

Annamaria77 Fri 20-Nov-15 11:30:12

Yes, I agree that the use of interesting description, vocabulary and style is much more indicative of the child's potential than just a clear 3-part structure of the narrative. Also, boys tend to be more factual -
I find that writing a story about an animal and its habits takes much less time and angst than writing a fictional Magic Carpet story. So we shall persevere but I don't want to put him off writing for the rest of his life by pushing too hard - he already hates it enough smile WU and all these sort of schools look at the full spectrum but I think they place enormous emphasis on writing and comprehension.

Michaelahpurple Tue 24-Nov-15 17:48:27

Actually, if a boy is yo fry I. With a weak and strong aide I think maths is the key. Is used as a general diagnostic by many schools.

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