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DS wants to sit superselective 11+ this year...too late?

(24 Posts)
iamnotaponceyloudperson Thu 04-Jun-15 14:51:56

DS is very bright (but not genius level). I am happy with the local secondary and had hoped DC would all go there as its co-ed and in the next road. Superselectives are ones which are often mentioned on here and people seem to be tutored intensively from Year 4,beg of yr 5 latest and all are just over an hour away.

However talked to DS1 about it a couple of weeks ago as his friends are starting to talk about these things and he desperately wants to sit the exam.

If he had been tutored I'm sure this would have been no issue. He was 4a/b at end of year 4 with no real effort and cruises comfortably at the top of the class. He's studious if required, although happy to coast too.

His teacher this year has been pretty uninspiring unfortunately and the school primary doesn't tend to encourage children to push ahead of the class eg don't think they offer the option of sitting level 6 papers, several families have removed their DC for this reason.

I got some letts and bond books and he's roughly 80% for Maths and English aged 10-11. He has a flair for English and am pretty sure I could get his score up quickly. The problem is so much of the Maths has not yet been touched on and the first exams are in September. We could work the topics out with online help but not sure there is enough time!

He would without a doubt pull out all the stops and would study almost every day if required. When he wants to do something he will put all his efforts into it. He wanted to be able to make friends when we visited family abroad for a whole summer holiday and used a language program to teach himself extremely well (totally unprompted by us) despite really disliking French at school.

However the timescale is soo tight. Any thoughts?

Moominmammacat Thu 04-Jun-15 15:21:47

Well, it's up to you really ... just don't make it the be all and end all/let him feel a failure if it doesn't work. I did the whole tutoring thing myself with DS1 in 6 weeks for super-selectives ... three papers a day, every day ... and it worked. But it was his decision,he was a biddable child and starting from a solid base.

Lonecatwithkitten Thu 04-Jun-15 15:22:11

Firstly you need to check when entry closes, our local super selective is 19th June this year. So you will need to get that done.

iamnotaponceyloudperson Thu 04-Jun-15 20:10:10

Thanks both. It would never be the be all and end all to us, we both work and we have 3 kids so the local secondary about a 15 min walk away would make life a lot easier. DH and I aren't hung up on the 'best' schools at all, we both did very well at comps and went on to get strong degrees from good unis. just now feeling we have let DS down as several of his friends are now talking about their tutoring and possibilities at these fantastic schools etc and we haven't made this option available to him. Registration timings are fine.

I'm really after an idea of whether it is futile and setting him up to fail. I have been through his past papers and so far without any tutoring or help from us marks are anywhere between 79 & 84% but 3 months to raise himself to a level equal to a year or two's tutoring by learning whole new topics for maths, understand timing etc seems a huge ask.

Also not sure how accurate Bond and Letts are for assessing ability to do well at the test.

TheoreticalOrder Thu 04-Jun-15 20:44:25

It is surely impossible to say without knowing the superselective you are talking about, the score needed, the test etc.

Not all superselectives are "equal", some having 2,500 of the brightest chidren in the land applying for 120 places, others taking the top 5% in an area.

My DS had minimal tutoring, isn't a genius and got into a SS. Don't believe everything you read about the amount of prep and level of genius required. He practiced using the practice papers of the examination board that was used in the test itself and this was the most reliable indicator of outcome. On the day you can expect a lower score than practice papers due to stress.

lipsynch Thu 04-Jun-15 21:11:34

I think that you should give it a go. Your ds wants to take the exam and is prepared to work for it , so why not?

Pippidoeswhatshewants Thu 04-Jun-15 21:18:26

If you and your ds are willing to put in the work then you should definitely have a go. Even better if there is no pressure, you're happy with the local comp and the whole thing is just for fun.

TheBakeryQueen Thu 04-Jun-15 21:20:34

I think you should be child-led here! So go with it & support him as much as possible but also making it crystal clear that whatever the outcome you are extremely proud of him.

He sounds like a delight of a child.

ASingleJourney Thu 04-Jun-15 22:18:33

I would agree with the above advice, particularly about being proud of him regardless of the outcome and that it is not necessary to be a genius or tutored for years to secure a place.

I would suggest giving your DS a couple of challenging past papers from independent or SS schools (for example, Manchester Grammar School) and see where he is at and the progress he needs to make over the summer.

If the SS your DS is applying for is using CEM, prepare him for speed - Bond CEM prep books are very good but extremely challenging so wait until late summer.

We found Schofield & Sims to be very good for maths and CGP for verbal and non-verbal reasoning.

Best of luck to you and your DS.

iamnotaponceyloudperson Thu 04-Jun-15 22:37:58

Thanks again all. The papers are Maths & English only so expect the standard of both to be really high as no distraction of VR & NVR. Its the Sutton grammars and Tiffin, so he's picked some pretty lofty targets, hence my concern. I read an old thread about someone looking for the best tutor to get on the waiting list at 3 1/2!

I can't find the basic format of the 2nd stage for Tiffin. I know first stage for Tiffin and Sutton is multiple choice but I'm not sure what the next papers are. Do you get this info when registering do you think?

Leeds2 Thu 04-Jun-15 22:51:52

There is a practice exam you can do at Sutton, organised by the PTA. Might give you an idea as to whether DS is ready for it.

mellicauli Thu 04-Jun-15 23:18:49

General thoughts are. 1) bond is too easy for maths. 2) 11+ is won and lost on the English. If your son is strong on both you should be ok

The is a lot of advice on 11 plus forum for late starters. They have a wide range of practice papers and info about mocks / intensive courses etc. You probably need to get a bit obsessive with timetables, etc

My son was getting 95% on Maths, 70% on English for Bond at this time last year. In the end he squeaked through the Maths and did really well on the English. This is because there are lots of strong maths candidates (results are standardised, so small mistakes are heavily penalised for a strong cohort) but not so much on the English.

People will have opinions but I think if you aren't in the competition. You can't win the prize.

HayFeverHell Thu 04-Jun-15 23:48:05

Why not take a shot at it, if he wants to have a go? The worst that can happen is that he doesn't get a place but goes to the local school which you were happy with in the first place.

From an emotional perspective, I would make sure that he knows he is starting late and that others have a head start. He should be aware that he is "in with a chance, and it is worth doing his best," but despite being very capable and worthy, he may not succeed because others are ahead of him. Ideally, he should be over the moon if he succeeds, but be able to sooth his ego with his late start should he not succeed.

To maximise his chances find out whether it is a test created by GL or a CEM. Then prepare appropriately. The best place to get up to speed is the 11+ Forum. Just google it and look for your county on the chat board. You'll be able to figure out which style test it is and what others are doing to prepare.

Good luck to your son!

AtiaoftheJulii Fri 05-Jun-15 07:32:49

Yep, go the the elevenplusexams forum, full of helpful people smile If he wants to do it it's worth trying. Whatever happens, it is bound to be useful to him in the future, so I don't think it's ever NOT worth trying.

omnishambles Fri 05-Jun-15 09:48:36

The first thing is obviously getting through the first round and for that you need to be practising speed multiple choice, most of the marks lost here are through non completion.

The next round for Wilsons and SGS are long form English (non fiction usually) and really quite advanced maths.

If you are doing Tiffin as well then you must be in catchment and therefore you wont have that advantage for SGS presumably? Wilsons will be a bit of a mare to get to.

Plus you will have to do VR as well as all the rest?

I do think it is doable, but you need to be very well drilled with the timings and exam practice.

iamnotaponceyloudperson Fri 05-Jun-15 10:23:33

This is really helpful everyone, thank you all! Yes we are in catchment for Tiffin - the reason for the long journey is overall journey time involves walk and bus/train change. SGS further away in distance but not much different on public transport.

I'm finding verbal reasoning confusing. I shall get (yet) another book! Will it just be incorporated into the Maths and English papers or is there a separate paper I haven't noticed ? I've looked at an online site and the questions seemed to be the kind of thing you'd find in Bond/Letts English and Maths assessment papers?

Maths is going to be the biggest challenge by far because he needs to hugely fast forward his understanding of concepts. He never finds maths difficult and is good at interpreting what most questions want but his school goes slowly slowly and hasn't even started on basic algebra yet. But he's keen to learn and doing 40 minutes most mornings solidifying what he knows so he gets every point he can before moving on to new things.

Thank you so much.

omnishambles Fri 05-Jun-15 10:49:45

The Sutton schools have no VR apart from what is kind of disguised as compound words etc but Tiffin obviously does so you will need to be doing specific VR as well as maths and English - quite a tall order but doable if you're committed.

If you got into Wilsons - or more likely Wallington would you send him that far? If you realistically wouldnt then have a long think about the second stage for Wilson's.

iamnotaponceyloudperson Fri 05-Jun-15 11:03:11

I thought, but maybe wrong, that Tiffin has also dropped VR paper this year for Maths & English but I presume it will still be there within Maths and English anyway. Will do some more digging!

iamnotaponceyloudperson Fri 05-Jun-15 11:11:56

Juries still out on which of the grammars he will sit but will need to make a decision quickly. Local traffic makes a big difference. What do I need to know about the second stages of the different schools?!

iamnotaponceyloudperson Fri 05-Jun-15 11:21:31

Jury's obviously!!

omnishambles Fri 05-Jun-15 11:34:03

Just that they need to be ready for coming into a big hall with lots of others, sitting a 45min/hour exam, having 15 mins off to eat and go to the toilet and then sitting down and doing another one. Lots of the other children will have practiced this in mocks and other tutoring settings.

Have a look at the highest SATS papers online or the 11+ papers for private schools - City of London or Trinity etc are all available online and you'll see what they need to be doing with the maths.

irregularegular Fri 05-Jun-15 11:52:00

Agree there is no harm trying if he wants to. My daughter is at Kendrick and son is about to start Reading boys - both considered to be 'super selectives'. In both cases we didn't do any preparation until about 2-3 weeks ahead, just going through some practice tests. DS rather reluctant so we only got about 5 hours out of him in total. DD did a bit more. Maths was a bit of a shock as only realised rather later in the day that there were various topics on the test that DS just hadn't covered - cue a crash course in algebra. Considering these are supposed to be 'tutor-proof' tests I thought that was pretty unfair, but I digress.

Neither of them are freak geniuses. In the reasoning tests and English I don't think there is much to be gained beyond a little bit of familiarisation and practice - performance soon tops out and there is not much you can do to improve and there is a danger they get bored. Maths it might have been better to start earlier, but you've got loads of time.

Ladymuck Fri 05-Jun-15 13:23:58

First round for Sutton: multiple choice maths and English, both time pressured. Maths - Try any of the Letts/GL/Bond/First Past the Post papers (nb papers not books). For English look at those papers but in additional look at the level 6 SATS SPAG papers for the last few years. FWIW most boys didn't complete the English (72 questions in 45 minutes including 2 comprehensions and a cloze).

There will be no second round for Wallington Boys this year.

Second round for Wilsons: Maths paper including data and shape questions (which typically don't get tested on the multiple choice paper) and lots of wordy problems. You certainly don't have to go beyond level 6 maths, but you do need to practice problems. I would recommend So You really want to learn Maths - it is the first book of a year 6-8 set of 3 (for common entrance). Lots of extension questions.

English for Wilsons: Sep 2013 - students given description of an avalanche and had to write a newspaper report for 2 days later. Sep 2014 - students given information on something animal related (was it keeping a protected species as a pet or something?!) and had to write a persuasive letter to a friend. 50-55 minutes for this, and typically determined whether the boys got a place or not (many boys had finished writing after 30 minutes...)

Second round maths of SGS as for Wilsons though traditionally harder. English paper consist of 2 pieces of writing around 30 minutes each, one of which is a non fiction piece. Neither school has had comprehension in the 2nd round recently.

If he is motivated, no harm in sitting and you can make choices about schools later. Worst case is that he goes into year 6 secure in maths and English. But practising papers in timed conditions is essential, preferably in conditions similar to the "real thing". I would consider registering for the Kent Test as a free mock. Not exactly the same format but, ime, very well managed and a great way to get experience. You're too late for the Sutton mocks, though try Wallington Boys as they may have spaces. NB you need to register for Kent by 1 July.

There is no VR, BUT I think that there is an advantage in practising pure VR (so not codes, but synonyms, antonyms etc)

Good luck!

iamnotaponceyloudperson Fri 05-Jun-15 13:40:53

Thank you again. This is really very much appreciated.

Am gutted I ignored the grammars as there's nothing here that's beyond his ability but knowledge and practice takes time too.

Fortunately he loves words and writing so that may help him pick up some points. Have no idea how to rate this though, so guess we just keep practicing in the hope he gets to second round.

So little joined up thinking in state sector.

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