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Indy school pretests and interviews

(32 Posts)
nokissymum Tue 20-Sep-11 12:06:53

what are they like and what form do they take ? Is the pre test one child at a time or done in a group ? For the interview, do they call candidates in one by one and parents wait outside or are parents invited in too ? What was the atmosphere like, was your dc bitting their nails ? What would you have done differently to prepare your child given your experience. Please share your story as we will be venturing down this path soon. Thanks.

nokissymum Tue 20-Sep-11 12:19:57


nokissymum Tue 20-Sep-11 12:51:17

Anyone grin

pointissima Tue 20-Sep-11 12:53:16

Which schools? They vary.

No experience since we will be doing these this year too; but I think that the written/computerised bit is generally done in a group (with each child working separately) and the interview is individual. I'm pretty sure that parents are not generally invited into the interview: if there are lots of children from the same prep they may go in a group from school; otherwise parents just drop and collect

The absence of parents probably improves the atmosphere- I shall be more nevous than my son.

nokissymum Tue 20-Sep-11 12:59:50

We havent firmly decided on our choices yet so just wanted to get the general feel for them from a wide range. Good luck with yours! I shall definitely be more nervous than ds, probably shaking.

soda1234 Tue 20-Sep-11 15:53:50

My son went through this process for 2 schools. In each case the pre-test was in October of yr6, and consisted of maths, English and reasoning papers. All applicants (I think about 3/400 of them) sat the test at the same time, at the school.
Letters were sent out v.quickly (within a week), successful candidates were invited for interview (took place in middle of November).
At one school ds was seen by his potential housemaster, fairly informal chat (I think they talked about cricket).
At the other school he saw the Head, who had a model of an eye on his desk and asked ds to talk about it!
For the pre-tests I took him in, parents and boys were given a brief talk by the Head, then I left and collected him a few hours later.
For interviews, each only lasted about 15 mins, I just waited/chatted to other parents/had a cup of tea. I certainly wasn't invited in to the interview and can't imagine that parents ever are.
Hope this helps!

nokissymum Tue 20-Sep-11 16:00:44

An eye! How odd....what did ds say ? grin

alice15 Tue 20-Sep-11 17:47:56

What age are you talking about? At the schools I know about (girls' schools), for entry into year 7 they spend a whole day at the school where they take written exams in English, Maths and maybe Science or VR/NVR, depending on the school, and also have one or more individual interviews. Children are dropped off in the morning and collected later. I can't imagine parents would be allowed at the interviews either, at any age!

happygardening Tue 20-Sep-11 19:05:35

All schools are different but age definitely affects what there looking for what schools are you considering if people know what schools tour considering run I'm sure you'll get specific feed back

nokissymum Tue 20-Sep-11 19:29:59

Back on again. Sorry I didnt make myself clear, i was reffering to the interview and pretest done prior to 13+ CE at the senior schools possibly harrow, eton, HABS boys and Saint albans school.
Thank you.

happygardening Wed 21-Sep-11 07:53:33

Eton interviews and offers places out at year 6 and then a those offered places sit CE at year 8 and I think have to get 65%. They take up a report from the head, the child undertakes a 3/4 hour computer generated psychometric test which which they say is unique to them and you cant practice for and an interview of less than 10 mins asking like/dislikes, why you want to come to Eton strengths weaknesses etc usual standard stuff. You have to "pass" the test to be even considered for a place although they also claim they don't take those who come in the top 10 or maybe even the top 10% (no loose cannons at Eton except scholars) and this would appear to be true as we know of a couple of boys who failed to get a place at year 6 but two years later got scholarships.

pointissima Wed 21-Sep-11 08:28:34


Any further detail which you could give on the Eton computerised test would be most gratefully received.

Bit stressful this year- it seems so young to have to prove themselves.
Thank you

happygardening Wed 21-Sep-11 08:51:46

I personally know nothing about the test as we decided Eton was not for us but from what I gather from friends/children at my sons old prep you sit the test at a the computer which asks you to do something but only gives you a very short time to read and understand the instructions so you have to be a fast reader. I believe a lot of the tests are in a game type format. A couple of my DS friends did not get offered places both are very very bright, one is an outstanding reader and both very computer literate but they struggled at times to read the instructions or finish the exercises in the time allowed.
Your right they are very young to be put through this sort of thing. I fail to understand how you can judge a child in an interview of less than 10 mins which makes me think the interview is just window dressing.

nokissymum Wed 21-Sep-11 14:13:35

Thank you for your replies. It seems the interiews are like mini "job interviews" i.e strengths and weaknesses etc, we want to start practising a bit at home as ds is the type if you ask "so tell us about you school" will just say "fine" in typical 10 yr old fashion. grin

IndridCold Wed 21-Sep-11 19:32:18

DS did the Eton Assessment two years ago, but I wasn't worried about the interview part, as he is never short of something to say! They tend to ask about favourite books and outside interests and I think they are well used to getting the boys to chat freely (unless they are painfully shy).

I wouldn't do too much practising if I were you as it will be better the more spontaneous your DS is; however, it might be worth asking his present school to do a trial run which might set your mind at rest.

Good luck to your DS!

nokissymum Wed 21-Sep-11 19:49:39

Thank indrid For sharing that- its wont be happening till next yr so we've still got some time. Ds just clamps up and thats my greatest worry, they do practice at his prep for it but that is muchmuch nearer the time, so ii was wondering if there is something we can start doing at home for him to open up a bit more.

IndridCold Wed 21-Sep-11 20:02:42

Well you could try chatting to him about books or whatever, but try and ask questions that can't just be answered by yes or no and that will encourage him to give more elaborate answers. But do have confidence in him, they are good at putting the boys at ease.

nokissymum Wed 21-Sep-11 20:43:02

Thanks very much smile

happygardening Thu 22-Sep-11 08:34:41

I agree with !ndridCold don't practice too much a house master at Winchester was saying that its easy to tell when boys have been over prepared and answering questions with they think he wants to hear; e.g. Do you like music? Yes I like classical music. Which composer do you like? I like Mozart.

LIZS Thu 22-Sep-11 08:37:41

The ones I've heard of are computerised tests in groups and interviews separate to parents.

happygardening Thu 22-Sep-11 09:11:53

The other thing you could try is finding something that interests him and building on that. My DS loves art and we've take him to galleries etc and I'm always buying him books in charity shops about different painters. At one interview he was asked about his particular interests and mentioned his love of art. When challenged by the interviewer re the value of art in present day society he was then able to discuss a variety of painters, from cave paintings to Banksy, their different techniques, the rationale underpinning what and how they painted and how necessary art is in the 21st century. He was offered a place.
Also we as a family frequently discuss current affairs one teacher recently commented on how knowledgable DS1 was about the politics and economics in developing countries. I was really surprised I always assume my children just think "oh she's banging on about Africa again, boring!"

nokissymum Thu 22-Sep-11 09:32:13

Hi happy! I'll give you a recent example, we went abroad last yr to celebrate dh 40th birthday. Ds returns to school and conversation with his teacher goes likes this :

Teacher - kissyson, did you have a good holiday ?
Ds - yes
Teacher - where did you go ? What did you do ?
Ds - mars
Teacher - oh thats nice, tell me all about it, what did you do ?
Ds - we went out.
Teacher - (uncomfortable long pause) did you do anything special or go anywhere?
Ds - there was a party (another uncomortable pause )
Teacher - oh how exciting...!what was the party like ?
Ds - okay
Teacher - (really trying with ds now) was it a wedding, birthday etc ?
Ds - birthday.
Teacher - was it a relative's or someone you know well ?
Ds - my dad's
Teacher - Oooh! Was it a "special" one then ?
Ds - yes.

Ds is very bright but just doesnt get "conversation".
Im trying get him to understand that he needs to elaborate a bit more, especially in an interview situation, but maybe im wrong perhaps this is normal for most boys and the interviewer would be expecting these sort of answers and im worrying for nothing smile

Colleger Thu 22-Sep-11 09:38:19

Just to clarify about the Eton test. They do take the top 30% based on scores and they most definitely take the top 10% and certainly the top percent! wink The remaining 70% is not based on academic ability but a mixture of talents/attributes. So the boy that was bottom of the ability test could get in over the boy who was one mark below the 30%.

Interview is very, very important.

Winchester have a better system. A chat and tour with the Housemaster and very short tests in VR, English and French. The Housemaster took DS round and was getting lots of academic information out of him without realising. He basically told us straight after, off the record, that he had a place and had the highest marks of any boy who had sat.

Westminster have a NVR/VR, English and Maths test on one day and all boys have an interview which I think is good especially as so many have been coached.

Colleger Thu 22-Sep-11 09:39:51

Your son sounds like a Wykemist Nokissymum and they will see past the lack of social skills!

nokissymum Thu 22-Sep-11 09:52:21

At colleger grin grin
with me he is completely different, very dramatic in his expressions, lots of deep intakings of breath, lots of detail, infact too much sometimes! its like talking to 60 yr old man who has truly seen LIFE! But with Other adults he is completely different confused

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