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Common entrance exams

(9 Posts)
Bellini12 Mon 09-Jan-17 10:30:20

Just that really. Does anyone have a DC about to take their entrance exams?

We have tutored our DD ourselves at home from Sept. We haven't applied for the highly academic schools but they are still 3 papers each and an interview. She's a fairly bright kid, but hugely lacking in confidence and shy hence a smaller, private school will hopefully help her grow. It's what she wants.

Just looking for moral support really. I'm being cool as a cucumber to her but inside I'm a bag of nerves!

AnotherNewt Mon 09-Jan-17 10:40:03

I take it you mean the pretest for a Common Entrance school?

(Common Entrance is usually the whole gamut of subjects, and is a qualifying exam, not a competitive one)

Yes, it's nerve wracking - but if you do not get an offer that looks achievable in 1-2 years when CE falls due - perhaps you can also investigate schools that do not require a competitive pretest.

Bellini12 Mon 09-Jan-17 11:26:38

I thought common entrance was the name given to the tests that independent schools set for entrance into secondary (years 7 and 9).

All the schools around here set entrance exams but they do vary ever so slightly (I.e. some may set English, maths and verbal reasoning). Some have an interview and some don't. That's not even the highly academic, selective ones! I believe they are tougher.

Just seems like so much for a 10 year old!

AnotherNewt Mon 09-Jan-17 11:37:47


ISEB (the board which runs Common Entrance) has branched out other types of exam and it can be a bit confusing if the name CE is given to all types.

CE is the name for an exam sat in year 8 by conditional offer holders and if they meet the score of their offer they're in. It's an exam that it's possible (normal, usual) for everyone to pass, because the 'dating' process of matching school to pupil and getting an achievable offer has been going on since about year 6.

Competitive 11+ and competitive 13+ also exist quite separately.

And yes, it's an appallingly nerve-wracking time for parents!

How many schools is she sitting for? Do they publish past papers on their websites, and if so was your DD confident with the style of question?

LIZS Mon 09-Jan-17 11:49:14

Common Entrance is the name of a single type of exam across several subjects used by a number of schools nationally. Many school set specific papers for their entrance exams , and can vary widely. In addition some pretest a year or two earlier using online tests, and may make offers conditional on achieving a level in subsequent exams either CE or school specific.

AnotherNewt Mon 09-Jan-17 11:51:53

BTW, you might also be interested in this thread

and if you're in London there are a couple of threads about entrance exams and I can try to find them for you they'll be relevant (gone quiet of late, but may spring back into life as the actual exams/interviews/assessements begin.

Bellini12 Mon 09-Jan-17 12:16:27

Thanks anothernewt. I tried to find a thread about entrance exams but didn't see that one. It's nice to know I'm not alone in feeling like this. I thought I was doing ok dealing with it all then the panic set in on Friday (for me) and have hardly slept the last few nights worrying about her! Even though it's what she really wants, I still feel awful for her having to set such intensive tests. I tried not to push the revision, especially over Christmas and I'm sure we could have done more, but I feel she's at a stage that she could potentially do well.

It's because she's not a confident character that all this is so daunting. Some flourish in an interview, but my DD just feels so awkward. But ironically, it's why a smaller school will be perfect for her to build that confidence. If she gets in that is!

She's taking 3 sets of exams shock with 2 of them one day after the other. The first test is her favourite school.

bojorojo Mon 09-Jan-17 17:32:52

The Head or Deputy doing the interviewing really will understand that children can lack confidence. They do not expect every child to be a jet-propelled turbo-charged go getter with a personality to match. They know why you have chosen their school!

She should practice a few interview questions based on what could be asked. Definitely prep her on why she wants to go to the school but get her to think of the reasons - they should not be your reasons. So she will not say "I really like the idea of this school because I lack confidence and Mummy thinks it is best because I will be swamped anywhere else". Get her to think of what she liked when she looked round. Friendly teachers, sports facilities, music, art, science labs, friendly children, even the lunches, etc. Put it in her words. What was special for her? What is she looking forward to?

They often ask about favourite subject, so think which one and why, and things she likes doing outside school. Often extra curricular will be on the application so she can elaborate on that. Do not lie about books - never mention ones she has not read. If asked about books, think of ones she knows really well and can think of characters and what makes the book great. Sometimes they settle a child in by asking about their pet or what they got for Christmas.

Both my DDs went to smaller senior schools and the interviews were not onerous. They just chatted.

If they are doing school set exams, then these are based on what they are taught in primary school. My DDs had no tutoring or revision at all. We had no past papers! We just thought about possible interview questions. They sat Maths, English and Science. The bar was not too high as the school was not highly academic but they were fine. Your DD will be too but don't project your anxiety onto her. Keep calm.

Bellini12 Wed 11-Jan-17 18:56:45

Thank you bojorojo. Sage advice.
It's gone ok so far, one better than the other and two totally different schools. The interview was fair but I'm not sure how much she 'sold' herself.
Fingers crossed.

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