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13+ scholarship preparation - when does your prep start?

(20 Posts)
yotty Tue 04-Dec-12 21:04:53

The head of DS's prep has told me the children in year 8 do mock CE exams after half term in the September term and then they decide who is going to do scholarship exams and start giving them past papers to practise at the beginning of the spring term. This seems rather late to me, considering some schools set their scholarship exams in February.
Is this normal timing or is this a bit late to adequately prepare the candidates?

LIZS Tue 04-Dec-12 21:11:30

Depends which schools are under consideration, Some may require a longer period of preparation. If the school requires CAS instead of CE then those are usually taken in early May, the curriculum can differ and they are a higher level. School specific Scholarhsip exams may coincide time-wise. For those which select on basis of own entrance exams, whether by taking top performers or inviting a selection back to take eatra papers, it is simply an extension of work already being done so less preparation required.

yotty Wed 05-Dec-12 08:16:38

The school I am thinking of does CE in June for the majority but holds its scholarship exams in early March.
I have noticed DS's prep doesn't get many academic scholarships, wondering if they just don't prepare them well enough. There are 2 sets across the whole year group, so there are children in the top set who are not taking a scholarship mixed in with those that are. Generally, there are 4/5 children a year that take scholarships for various schools, but very few actually get offered scholarships. Is this normal in a prep school of this size?

LIZS Wed 05-Dec-12 08:59:48

I would suggest they have a mental shortlist of possible candidates before year 8 and then just use the exam to whittle that down to those who may be successful and prepared. ds' prep had 3 or 4 sets per subject minimum, the top of which was for CAS/ Academic Scholarship kids plus a couple of others who didn't need to sit those papers but could benefit from that level of teaching. How old is your ds? How large the school ? Increasingly fewer schools rely on CE alone to allocate places using a pretest or setting their own entrance tests.

Annelongditton Wed 05-Dec-12 12:22:02

That sounds really late to me.
To be fair to the school for some subjects CE level 3 papers are the same syllabus as the common scholarship papers, I expect the questions are just harder and more essay based. But many of the top schools Westminster, ST Pauls, KCS, Eton etc. set their own scholarship papers which are much harder.
DS's school only split off the scholarship class in May of year 7, and they then have to work like mad, through the summer holidays and hours of homework every night to get through the work. His school has a very good success rate with scholarships, last year St Pauls only gave 5 John Collet awards and his school got 2 of them. I thought his was one of the latest to split off a scholarship class, as many locally start much earlier, and I thought they were only able to leave it so late because it's very academic and pretty much everyone goes onto schools which require level 3 CE papers.
Which schools are the boys at your DS's prep going onto? it may be less competitive/mad than the London day schools circus.

Bink Wed 05-Dec-12 14:11:15

They vary a lot (even in London) - I know that Westminster Under (for instance) does a full scholarship stream, which is definitely in place for the whole of year 8 though I'm not sure how early it starts before then. Whereas ds's (much less selective) prep made some vague rather informal gestures towards scholarship encouragement and support, and effectively ds did his scholarship on somewhat of his own self-tutored interests rather than training (which was reflected in the range of results on the different papers, ahem). However, we deliberately chose the less selective prep, for socialisation-type reasons, so there not being a powerhouse scholarship programme was not an issue for us. His year only got a couple of scholarships - his being one.

yotty Wed 05-Dec-12 14:31:48

Bink, your son's prep sounds very like ours. I get the feeling a lot of the work is done by the parents at the weekends and generally is just going over old papers. Not sure it will be worth the effort as the financial benefit is almost negligible. The only advantage is that the exams are all over before Easter so he can relax whilst most other children are still working. He is currently in year 7 and we are considering a scholarship at a school where the ordinary entrance requirements are 55% at CE, so not a mega selective school.

My DS are in an academic prep (won one of the 5 JC scholarships and Annelongditton refers too plus some Foundation Scholarships for SP etc.)

Similar to Anne they identify the potential Scholarship candidates from the Yr7 exams in May of yr 7 and the work starts there. They make a final decision about suitability for the exam at the end of the first term of Yr 8 but they have been studying the scholarship curriculum all that term anyway.

So given that 2 different preps who have between them taken 3/5th of the top scholarships at St Paul's start much earlier and more intensely I don't think your prep is preparing as vigourously as some.

yotty Wed 05-Dec-12 16:46:14

Chats, thanks for the info. I suspected as much. Fortunately, we are not going for a scholarship at a super selective school and he already has a place as long as he gets 55% in his CE. He also is on the waiting list at Winchester.
I was just wondering if he should bother, if his current school are not going to be that proactive and the Autumn term for him is always full on with lots of drama practices. Sometimes I think I should just let him enjoy his last year at home, doing lots of fun stuff at the weekends instead of having his nose in a book every weekend from September until March.
Conversely, if Winchester do come up with a place he will need to sit their entrance exam which is more akin to the CE scholarship, so you could argue I should be cracking the whip next September anyway!

If you think there is any chance of Winchester then I would push on with the work in Sept you can always ease off if WC doesn't come through. That work will be useful for his CE anyway and may provide the basis for a scholarship attempt at his chosen school. I would probably give WC a ring towards the end of the academic year to see where he is on the waiting list. That way, if he is in with a chance you can do a bit of work over the holidays to ease into the exam prep.

yotty Wed 05-Dec-12 17:18:37

Fair comment Chaz. Good idea

happygardening Wed 05-Dec-12 18:36:10

Really depends on the prep. My nephew’s prep lots of scholarships into Eton Winchester etc. separated the scholars at the end of yr. 6 my DS’s old prep separated then at the beginning of yr. 7 but as already said had already identified them in in yr. 7.

trinity0097 Fri 07-Dec-12 06:46:20

I teach in a prep school, although I tend not to give past paper type stuff put in yr 7, it doesn't mean I don't know who is going to do a scholarship and am not covering the things they need in class, the important thing first is to get all the content covered before then moving onto extra scholarship stuff.

CowsGoMoo Sat 08-Dec-12 01:02:22

Hi, I knew my ds was as the school put it 'Scholarship Material' at the end of year 7. He was coached through year 8 and helped to prepare his portfolio during that time. Isn't starting in year 8 a little too late?

happygardening Sat 08-Dec-12 11:11:07

Sorry meant to say at my DS's old prep potential scholarship children were definitely identified in yr 7 and probably earlier informally and separated in yr 8. They used to have a good record of Eon scholarships but none for a long time. I suspect this is becasue the standard is significantly higher.
OP with regard to the Winchester entrance exam (not the election) my DS was put in the scholarship stream in preparation for this and we were informed by someone generally considered very much in the know that the level was approximately similar to the Harrow Scholarship but the requirements are different. It is the languages you have to watch! The Latin in very difficult you have to know your grammar and they are quite picky when they mark it, part of it is AS level and the French is virtually identical to GCSE French although not an extensive vocabulary but does require an exceedingly good grasp of 100 common verbs (you can buy a book) present past future imperfect etc ect and an ability to write and speak them. The oral is significantly different you do not know what your going to be asked to do for the conversation and thus cannot prepare your answers in advance and you have to be able to speak in the past the present and the future. Part of the maths is also difficult.

yotty Sat 08-Dec-12 19:22:41

HG thanks for the heads up on the Winchester exam. I guess we will wait and see how he does by the end of this academic year and whether we hear anything from Winchester over the summer holidays. Unfortunately, I think it is unlikely that we will hear anything from Winchester until Easter 2014, by which time he may have already taken a scholarship for another school and we may have to commit more money by then. So the timing is tough

happygardening Sun 09-Dec-12 08:38:44

Yotty it must be really frustrating for you, being on a waiting list is worse than be turned down flat. At least you and your DS can move on and concentrate on finding another school if your not offered a place.

yotty Sun 09-Dec-12 19:56:57

It is very frustrating being in limbo. I agree a straight 'no' would have been easier.
Although, DS is still really keen to go to Winchester, he also really likes our alternative which is very different from Winchester, ie. coed, more middle of the road academically. Part of me wants Winchester to come up with a place but the more cautious side of me would be quite pleased if they didn't, so he would have to go to our second choice. He would probably be near the top academically at choice 2, which he will enjoy and the school has amazing exam results and Oxbridge success rate baring in mind the broad intake. So I am confident he will do well and would be happy.

manicinsomniac Mon 10-Dec-12 14:48:04

This seems very late our prep uses the whole of Y7 and 8 to prep for scholarships. The potential scholars are put into a scholarship form for the start of Y7 and have a totally different timetable and curriculum for the next 2 years.

yotty Mon 10-Dec-12 20:41:44

Manic. I agree it does seem late. I think I will just have to be patient and wait until the end of year exams and if he does well then push to start the scholarship prep in September.

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