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If you are coaching your child for the 11+ or similar test have you......

(22 Posts)
drosophila Thu 15-Oct-09 23:00:51

noticed an improvement in their results as the coaching has progressed. I am curious as the head of our school argues that you cannot improve your results through practice. I ampretty sure you can but wanted hard evidence.


Milliways Thu 15-Oct-09 23:05:08

Well the first time they see them they think "What on earth??", then you explain and they do them slowly.

They DO have to learn to look for patterns, codes etc so of course they get better with practice.

We believed the "no practice needed" with DD and did not do very much, and she never got the hang of them and didn't get in. With DS we spent more time and did more practice and he did get in

bellissima Fri 16-Oct-09 09:43:02

Yes they get better. I think a survey in Northern Ireland showed an up to 30% (but don't quote me - have forgotten exact figure) improvement.

When I did the GMAT test for business school, many moons ago, we were encouraged to get practice books and the general theory was that there would be a significant improvement in performance with some practice, but that further gains would then level off, ie endless practice would not lead to continual improvement (or, to be more blunt, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear!). On this basis, therefore, all children should be given a reasonable amount of practice (but sadly they are not).

drosophila Fri 16-Oct-09 14:23:26

Thanks that makes sense to me.

DadAtLarge Fri 16-Oct-09 15:45:12

With aptitude tests like the GMAT, practice can make a big difference, but learning techniques can have an even bigger impact.

For example, recognising that some maths problems don't need to be solved saves valuable seconds. (Look at the multiple choice answers first! Is 64 x 327 = a)20928 b) 400 c) 64,327 or d) cabbages). And knowing how negative marks are applied leaves you in a position to calculate whether it's worth guessing an answer when you can eliminate even one of the multiple choice options.

madamearcati Fri 16-Oct-09 18:37:02

Not really.
My DCs all understood what to do straightaway by themselves.
Learning exam techniques like time management and not losing your place on the page do help them though.
If your Dc can't understand what to do with the tests on their own , they will be way out of their depth at grammar school though.The pace is very fast

drosophila Fri 16-Oct-09 18:41:43

I assume that most parents coach or have tutors so to make it a level playing field I guess a bit of coaching will help. I'm not worried about DS's skills or intellect just want to make sure I give him every advantage.

HeBewitcheditude Fri 16-Oct-09 18:54:47

of course. We haven't done any coaching, just given DS practice papers and talked about what the question is asking so that he's familiar with the test.

As Calvin Coolidge said: "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent".

How curious that a HT should say that you can't improve your results through practice. Practising is how people get better at things. No-one would ever achieve at a high level if they didn't practice. Maths isn't that different from piano playing or football. It's 10% talent and 90% practice IMO.

Honeybarbara Fri 16-Oct-09 19:14:02

This is from the NFER website (they write the 11+ papers):

11+ Selection tests

Practice and Coaching

Strictly speaking, practice and coaching are separate activities. Coaching takes place when children are actually taught the best way to answer the test questions. Practice is simply sitting down and attempting to answer questions that are similar to the ones in the real test.

In the past, much research was conducted by psychologists into the effects of practice and coaching. This research was summarised by Jensen (1980) and found, for example:

practice and coaching effects can be slightly greater for non-verbal tests than for verbal
more able pupils can gain more from practice than less able pupils
practice effects are greater for tests that have a time-limit compared to those without a time limit
The research also found diminishing returns with increased practice and coaching. For example the practice gain between the first and second sessions was usually as great as the total benefit from all further practice. This research went on to suggest that there is no significant gain after about five practice sessions and that there is no significant benefit from more than a few hours of coaching. Furthermore the typical gains in test scores resulting from practice were in the region of 4 to 5 standardised score points and the gains in score resulting from coaching were also around 4 to 5 standardised score points.

More recently, research has also been conducted by Bunting & Mooney (2001) into the effects of familiarisation/practice and coaching on verbal and numerical test scores. The scores obtained from the tests which were originally developed for the Northern Ireland transfer procedure in the 1980s, found that coaching for a period of three hours can significantly improve pupils mean test scores. This research also found that sustained coaching over a period of nine months can result in more significant gains in mean test scores; however standardised-score point score gains are not discussed in this study.

drosophila Sat 17-Oct-09 19:48:20

Thanks Honey. I'm not sure either why HT says this but I am sure he believes it. I think he fears parents pushing too hard and upsetting the child. In my more cynical moments I wonder if he fears the SATs being affected as the verbal and non verbal tests take place a good few weeks before the tests and perhaps if kids do well in these tests they will take their foot off the pedal when doing the SATS.

The verbal and non verbal tests determine which secondary school you go to in this borough whereas the SATS are used to measure the effectiveness of the primary school and all that that brings with it. How cynical am Igrin

Honeybarbara Sat 17-Oct-09 19:55:55

Maybe he is under pressure from the grammar schools who of course want raw talent, rather than mediocre pupils tutored to the nth degree!
good luck anyway!

Broke Sun 18-Oct-09 11:15:43

I would agree that the SATS are more important to the headteachers than the 11+
Ours was so obsessed with their SATS to the point I felt of not being entirely honest with the year 2 ones we took them out.
Leaving DD with nothing to concerntrate on but finishing the year 6 curriculm, the 11+ and other entrance exams which is how it should be IMO

drosophila Sun 18-Oct-09 14:14:04

Thing is Honey all the secondary schools in this borough use the verbal and non verbal tests to select their pupils. Most schools operate a system wherby they take from top, middle and bottom bands thus ensuring a mix but a few take only from the top. There are no grammar schools as such but a couple are in effect grammar schools.

ADragonIs4LifeNotJustHalloween Sun 18-Oct-09 21:05:03

"If your Dc can't understand what to do with the tests on their own , they will be way out of their depth at grammar school though"

Sorry, but that's nonsense.

I've seen an improvement with DS1. He now knows what the questions mean and what sort of answer they are looking for.

deaddei Sun 18-Oct-09 21:08:47

Totally agree dragon (is it you butter?)
Remember when they start doing this, some children are 9!!!

ADragonIs4LifeNotJustHalloween Sun 18-Oct-09 21:11:49

No, I am soup. I don't spread. [snurk]

We only started in January ready for 3 exams in January.

ADragonIs4LifeNotJustHalloween Sun 18-Oct-09 21:12:21

that sounds mad. We started this Jan for exams Jan '10.

deaddei Sun 18-Oct-09 21:20:19

Sensible. Where we are, the poor little buggers get tutored from unearthly ages .

GoppingOtter Sun 18-Oct-09 21:22:34

course you do

ADragonIs4LifeNotJustHalloween Sun 18-Oct-09 21:24:31

Here they go to private primaries in order to secure grammar school places in the neighbouring borough. Many are tutored in addition to this. I think these children may be set up to struggle in a grammar environment if they are not naturally bright to start with.

GoppingOtter Sun 18-Oct-09 21:25:38

same here

this week there were the usual shock fails - kids put through all the tutoring for nothing

deaddei Sun 18-Oct-09 21:27:21

Ah well, roll on Dec 8th when all those Bond papers can go on a bonfire!!

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