gton - Grammar Two-tier exams Sept 2013
It seems that the super selective grammar schools have joined together to introduce the 2 tier exam system for current year 5 boys, sitting the exams in Sept 2013 (proposed entry 2014).
Does anyone know the format of the exams?
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
tiggytape thanks for that. I think, realistically, the Sutton grammars are a bit far from our corner of SE London, but feel I have to investigate all options!
Some people do get a tutor for each subject and pay weekly tuition bills for 2+ years but this is very much the extreme.
Most people tutor for a year or so and many do it at home themselves with past papers and books or pay for just one tuition session a week for that time.
It would be wrong to say tutoring for those schools is rare - it is very much the norm even for children who are expected to absolutely fly through the exams (so many children take the exams that the required scores are very high and mistakes or nerves might make a difference).
If your DS is level 6 in Year 4, he will be in the 'expected to absolutely fly through the exams' category but it is still normal in that situation to do familiarisation exercises and fill in any gaps.
Oh God... have DS in Y4 and just taking head out of the sand to start thinking about all of this, and these 3 schools are ones that come up in discussions.
Can I be cheeky and ask: do you have tutors/ self-tutor your sons?
DS is Level 6 in Maths, Writing, and Reading according to his primary report...but I understand that half the battle is exam-technique (no matter how much schools try to combat this). We've started setting him VR and NVR problems from the Bond books...but some one had said if we are considering grammar schools, we need to get a tutor. And if you go down the tutor route, you need a tutor for each subject!
DS is my eldest, and most of his peers will be going to our good local comp...I feel very under-informed, and would welcome any tips/advice!
Heyho! Looks like I walk alone on the rosy path to Sutton schools
Heyho! Looks like I walk alone on the rosy path to Sutton schools
Aren't there any other parents going through this process this year?
First hurdle - 21st September, the proposed first eligibility test
DS tells me that there were two writing tasks - one to write about two cowboys (there was a passage of writing which they had to respond to) and the other to write about a party. I hope that's helpful - obviously it need not be the same next year.
It will be interesting to see what they choose to do, but all will be revealed on 1st March when Sutton will be releasing this years entrance test data. Hopefully, someone will post the contents of this letter on this forum.
Poundpup - that's interesting. I wonder how the stage 2 results will be worded then? Stage 1 says a child is / is not of selective ability.
Will stage 2 results just say the same or will they be more specific (like other grammar schools that give a score)?
The results for Wilsons and Wallington stage 2 will be known before the CAF closing date, however, how informative this will be for parents to make an informed decision remains to be seen, as both schools in recent years have not released individual score data, just a general your son is of selective ability alongside another 400+ boys letter.
I think that the new testing system will actually increase the pressure on the children. As tiggytape has previously mentioned instead of three bites of the cherry, there will only be one. I think this is quite hard on ten year olds, who have just had a six week holiday and have only just started year six.
I don't envy the admissions team at any grammar school as it must be so difficult to select those deemed to be of 'selective ability', especially with the growing trade in professional tutoring. As I see it anyway they choose to select disadvantages someone be that using proximity, faith or raw ability score.
DS2 good at writing but not brilliant as I would like
"a bad day on stage 1 bars entry to 3 grammar schools all in one go"
I completely agree. I hate the new system.
A year ago, my DS1 failed Wilson (first exam he sat in Sept) but passed Sutton grammar which was scheduled in November.
When my son did the test Sutton definately had the hardest choice of title. The other two you could have easily regurgitated a standard answer. I hate the new system and foresee huge numbers of appeals. Of the boys I know who are now at the Grammars almost all of them had 'off day(s)' where they failed one or more test due to extreme nerves or basic exam technique.
I don't think it is about brilliance at creative writing per se, but if a boy struggles in writing coherently, then all the written work in humanities etc will be that much harder.
I think that it is more that the head feels that he can spot a "tutored" essay from a distance, whereas maths/VR etc can be tutored for to an extent. SGS have often had non-fiction essay titles, rather than standard essays, or "continue the story" essays set by other schools.
The two tier system has drawbacks though - many hundreds generally pass this stage so when parents fill in the CAF, they aren't really going to know whether their child is in with a chance at grammar school or not. Under the old system, 3 passes might still mean you're up against lots of others but at least it tells you something about performance on the day.
And of course, a bad day on stage 1 bars entry to 3 grammar schools all in one go. The old system offered 3 bites of the cherry - sometimes children did badly because of nerves or got out of synch with marking answers on the answer sheet and so failed one of the tests. If that happens under the new system, they'll have failed the lot.
Those who are told 'no' after stage 1 will still have to list the school if they plan to appeal the decision so it doesn't free up any choices on the CAF form. The appeals process will be complicated by the fact that failing stage 1 (even if it is by 1 point) means there will be no results for stage 2.
Finally, a boy wanting to sit for all 3 schools now has to do 4 exam days not 3 with perhaps the added pressure of knowing exams 2,3 and 4 are pitting him directly against all other qualifying applicants to see if he can squeeze out just enough marks to get a place as opposed to being left on the waiting list.
I see what the schools get out of it but I don't think it is an improvement for the parents or the children sitting it. If stage 2 was completed before the CAF deadline, that would be different.
I suppose they are looking for students who are brilliant at creative writing. My DS2 is excellent at Maths and VR but terrible at essay writing . Don't know what to do? Tried everything!
Locally there has been much discussion over SGS's choice of essay only for part 2, given the (very) subjective nature of marking. It is indeed becoming a way where the SGS headmaster seeks out the best rather than the most-prepared.
But yes, first set of tests are multiple choice and you only sit once. Each school could theoretically have a different pass rate determining whether or not you go through to their 2nd round. It should mean that the test days are more straightforward to run though, and less chance of last minute exchange of details from morning to afternoon sessions etc.
yes it was a story. I can't remember if there was a separate comprehension as well, as comprehension had been covered in the earlier section. Both DS and his friend thought the maths was "easy" compared to Wilsons and Wallington (take that as you may!).
Thanks tiggytape, stclemens.
Stclemens- did your DS sit the SGS test? I suppose the English was a composition and not a comprehension. I know the first test has multiple choice papers (Maths and English). I am more worried about the 2nd stage tests (in case if my DS2 even reaches that far
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