7+ Entrance Exams - How competitive are they?

(46 Posts)
LoveRoses Fri 05-Mar-10 12:06:41

I know, I know - being a nosy-parker but can't help myself really smile

With so much going on lately with the 11+ Entrance/Grammer school exam results - just wanted to know if competition for places at selective London schools are just as fierce?

For schools like St. Pauls, Dulwich College, e.t.c, how soon do parents start preparing their dc?

Finally, any ideas what the pass rates for kids from state pri. schools are compared to their counterparts from the private sector?

OP’s posts: |
Yingers74 Fri 05-Mar-10 18:52:43

Only took dd1 to one 7+ entrance exam so am no expert! Generally they are assummed to be less competitive than 11+ exams but from what I saw the numbers entering are still pretty high and so the competition is still fierce as most parents will have prepped their dcs. I got my dd1 to do some bond papers to help her get used to exams type questions.

With regards to pass rates this is something you would need to ask the admissions depts. Children from state schools do get in but I imagine successful candidates are largely from the private sector.

LoveRoses Fri 05-Mar-10 22:08:40

Thanks Yingers74 - Just curious though - at what stage did you start preparing your DD with the Bond Assessment Test papers?

Did you start when she was at reception or earlier?

OP’s posts: |
Wildones Fri 05-Mar-10 23:06:48

Hi LoveRoses
competition is very tough for the 7 plus cos dealing with lots of prepreps who're preparing children for 7+ exams.

My advice is as one whose 3 kids have all done 7+ and thankfully passed for Highgate, UCS and Habs - 6 yr old passed and going off to Highgate in September with his brothers - is - if in state school better to start tutoring once a week to prepare for exams cos state schools don't prepare. If in private school, if it's a preprep it will already be preparing children from reception, if a private school going onto 11 or 13, then they won't be prepared for 7+ so better to get a tutor.

Anyway good luck cos the pressure on you and the family is horrid.

singersgirl Sat 06-Mar-10 10:44:38

Quite a lot of the pre-prep children will have additional tutoring as well.

From experience of friends' children going through this from pre-preps (not my own who were/are at state primary and did/will do 11+) there will be some topics a child at a state primary won't have covered. In maths, for example, it would be helpful to know times tables up to 10 x 10 at least and be familiar with the traditional type of column addition and subtraction, and short multiplication and short division - none of which are taught in Y1/early Y2 in state primary. My friends' little boys did all of this in Y1.

The other thing is to get them able to write a story in half an hour. It doesn't need to be amazingly complicated but it needs to make sense and have a beginning, a middle and an end. Sounds obvious, I know, but again it's not something they do much of at this stage in state primary and certainly not to time.

Finally, for verbal and non-verbal reasoning practice, as others have said, some Bond starter papers will familiarise them. It's just an advantage if they understand when looking at sequences or patterns that they should look at colour, count things, check which way objects are facing, watch out for similar 'trick' answers with a minor difference between them.

Yingers74 Sat 06-Mar-10 14:26:33

I started my dd1 doing bond papers (maths and verbal reasoning) the September before the entrance exam so she practised for about 3 months. In the end we only managed to get through half a book of the maths and verbal reasoning as I kept forgetting to do it!!!!

With the english I just got her to put a little more effort into her english homework but again only when I remembered!

I actually think the best piece of advice I managed to drill into her was that if she got really stuck on something to move onto the next thing! It worked as she got in!

Please note that if you go down the private prep school route, most (apart from pre preps)do not prep for 7 plus as they want you to stay till 11, so you will have to put the work in yourself.

Good luck, it is actually a pretty awful experience and I only did the 1!

Elibean Sat 06-Mar-10 14:41:03

I was wondering whether to look at 7+ for dd1 (she is in Y1 atm in a small state primary) as I'm concerned at the lack of choice with secondary schools in our area. But I thought 7+ would be less pressured than 11+, and it doesn't sound it...it sounds a bit grim, from what you're all saying.


basildonbond Sat 06-Mar-10 14:51:58

DC isn't particularly academic ... we know loads of kids there at both prep and senior school and they're certainly not academic geniuses (genii?)

Colet Court (St Paul's) mind you, is a different sort of beast altogether, I suspect

personally I think there's a lot of hysteria about entrance exams = let's face it, the pool of 6/7 year old children whose parents are prepared to fork out for the fees, PLUS put their children through the stress of the tests is going to be pretty small ....

dd's going to a private primary for y3, but we decided against going for schools which insisted on the very full-on sit-down formal exam process in favour of places which just had the kids in for a day and assessed them in normal lessons

Elibean Sat 06-Mar-10 15:01:59

Not so sure its that small in our area! Good to know there are private primaries that do the less formal intake, though.

singersgirl Sat 06-Mar-10 15:04:53

I agree about the pool of children being small as a whole, but I don't think that's necessarily true in London. London is demographically incredibly skewed, because the highest number of the country's very high earners live here.

slummymomma Sat 06-Mar-10 15:28:13

DS1 did the 7+ for one of the more academic London boys prep schools (from a state school) and we tutored once a week for about 10 months. It was very competitive (about 5 applicants for every place).

We did the 7+ route because we thought it would be easier on DS than 11+. He was aware of what was going on but was not overly concerned or worried by it. I know from friends who had sons in private preps that they also tutored for the exam - event though the pre preps specifically prepare for the exam.

SofaQueen Sat 06-Mar-10 21:10:58

I am only familiar with the 7+ for the very academic preps leading to senior schools, and can say that they are very competitive.

Children who will sit the exams are expected to have a handle on the curriculum for maths and english up to the end of Year 2 at a private school. The ratio I have been tikd is greater than 5 applicants per place, and the candidate me mature and self-confident enough to do well in an interview.

My son attends an academic pre-prep and people have started already (year 1) to tutor for the exams. I am not going to tutor, but I do some extra work (1-2 bond sheets per week). He will have a 7+ club next year, and homework this summer to ramp up to the exam. It is madness, but many people have their sons sit the 7+ because they feel that it is an easier exam than 8+, 11+ or CE, making the competition at this level quite fierce.

SofaQueen Sat 06-Mar-10 21:11:56

sorry for the horrid typing above!

slummymomma Sat 06-Mar-10 22:13:02

Sofa Queen - which prep schools in London have worse than 5/1 ratios for 7+ entry?

DS is at one of the two most selective schools in SW London and last year the ratio was 5/1. There were 45 places and about 240 applicants. The ratio is actually worse for 8+ - think it was something like 8/1.

Love roses - treat with some caution much of the RL chat about entrance exams as not everything you are told is true - particularly if you are talking to someone whose child will be competing against yours! I have known people who have sworn blind their child was not being tutored only to learn otherwise from the child.

Pass rates for state educated pupils compared to those from pre-preps would be difficult to say. Not many give it a go but surprisingly large numbers of those who do succeed. I can't say for sure why but it could be that those who do put their children forward from a state school tend to only do it if the child is a strong candidate. Also (again just a suspicion) I think many prep schools look favourably on a bright state educated child compared to a highly tutored pre-prep one.

Yingers74 Sat 06-Mar-10 22:57:05

From word of mouth (so may be inaccurate), it seems the worst ratios are for the very academic single sex preps connected to very popular senior schools. The one we went for was co-ed and the gossip on that school was that less girls went for it so girls would find it easier to get it than boys. From the turnout on exam and interview day, it certainly seemed boy heavy. Whether this made it easier for my dd is anyone's guess though!

Also from those mums I know who have gone through 11 plus, the pressure and stress is worse than at 7 plus as at this age most children don't take it that seriously, and often the actual assessment days are made 'more fun' by the schools themselves. Saying that though, I was chatting to a 11 year old going through it and she was not stressed at all, in fact she enjoyed interviews!

And yes some parents really do prep their children but I have honestly heard of kids getting into good schools with little or no tutoring. It really depends on the schools, the type of assessments and what they are looking for in a child.

I can only hope I have made the right decision for my dd1. Am not looking forward to doing it again for dd2 but have 2 years to go before I have to start worrying!

SofaQueen Sat 06-Mar-10 23:11:36

slummymomma- Westminster and Colet Court (so I've been told)

squiby2004 Sun 07-Mar-10 09:16:20

Chigwell and Forest School on Essex/East London Borders are highly competitive at Yr7 exams. DC's are expected to now 1-12 tables, be able to write in joined up handwriting and have a very good handle on maths and English skills. Both have outstanding results at ks 4 and ks 5 with a good number going onto Oxford/Cambridge.

Humbert Sun 07-Mar-10 09:32:07

Our DD1 just got into Highgate at 7+. She's currently at a decent state primary and has had not an ounce of tutoring.

She treated the whole thing as a great fun day out (as did I!), I suspect it was this attitude that counted in her favour. We had also trusted that a good school could "spot" a bright child and see through any tutoring veneer.

For the record, she's not a little walking Unix system, just a normal kid with normal girlish fascination for all things garish and ghoulish.

basildonbond Sun 07-Mar-10 10:00:42

we were told (in a very patronising tone) by the head of one of the uber-academic girls' preps around here (actually make that the only uber-academic girls' prep ...) that they simply loved taking children from the state sector and "seeing what we can do with them" hmm - so schools definitely use different criteria for state school pupils

thinking about it, they'd have to, as dd only knows her times tables because she decided to learn them herself, and got fed up of waiting to be taught joined-up handwriting so again, just taught herself ...

LoveRoses Mon 08-Mar-10 12:44:51

Thanks all for your comments - they've given me an insight of what to expect, not very pretty - but that's to be expected if competition for these places (esp. the very academic ones: Westminister, St. Paul's, Dulwich college, etc) are extremely fierce.

I guess scoring well and passing the exams is the 1st step but what's the interview process like?

Apart from the usual question and answer session (I think?), I'm guessing the school would want to know about ds's non-academic achievements / extra-curricular activities?

How much of this would they expect to see? DS's school don't do any after-school activites - at least none that I'm aware of for yr1.

As a result, I've had to register him for swimming and Tae kwon do classes on Saturday mornings & Evenings. He's been attending these since the age of 2 and has acquired a fair amount of certificates along the way to prove his progress & consistency <proud parent emotican>
I held off registering him for music (keyboard) classes before now as I felt he was a bit too young at the time, but I'm thinking of doing that now + drama (and possibly tennis classes) if he's interested hmm

Finally - for those parents who've been through the process: does the school interview the parents also? This is such a new ground for me blush but would like to know if there are key essentials (do / not to do) things that I might be missing?

Would really appreciate your comments / expereiences...

OP’s posts: |
orienteerer Mon 08-Mar-10 13:43:54

Not all Prep schools have selective entry by exam.

basildonbond Mon 08-Mar-10 13:44:01

Dulwich College really isn't that academic - nothing like in the same league as Colet Court and Westminster - honestly, the boys ds knows who go/have been to the prep are reasonably bright but no more than that .. and I can't imagine that they were substantially different at 6 or 7

schools usually have a chat with the parents but it's not an 'interview' as such, more a check that you're financially solvent and can pay the fees - which, after all, is what they're most concerned with and it is your chance to ask questions about the school too

yes, ideally they want kids who're going to add to the life of the school, so music, sports etc will go down well - but for the schools you've mentioned I'd concentrate on rugby or cricket rather than swimming and tae kwondo - they all get thrashed by ds1's school at galas so I don't think swimming's taken that seriously

For prep age, things like how easy is it to get to, local friends, pastoral care, how much homework etc are all imo more important than academic prowess. Ds1 went to a bog-standard state primary and is now at an academically selective school and is holding his own in the top sets against boys who'd been at hothouse preps for years.

AnikaArora Tue 20-Sep-11 09:25:13

Does anyone know of any classes that my son can join. We have been looking around for a decent class to prepare him for seven plus or 8 plus but havnt found any. Iv found just one website www.topsettuition.com and lots of private tutors.

posadas Wed 21-Sep-11 12:13:53

AnikaArora -- whether or not you need to find a class depends on how your son is progressing at school. If he's at a reasonably academic school and can do the work without much trouble, you probably don't need to send him to any more classes. You should look at the admissions information for the schools you're considering and check your son is on the right track toward learning what will be tested (he doesn't have to know it all now -- just on track to know it by January!). It might be helpful to do some practice tests at home as you get closer to the exam date just to make sure he can sit for an hour and concentrate on a comprehension worksheet or a maths worksheet, etc. If he hasn't done any verbal reasoning or non-verbal reasoning papers at school, you should buy the Bond books for his age and ask him to do one per week.

Dozer Wed 21-Sep-11 20:09:20

Loveroses, are you really serious on all those activities?

That's crazy!

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