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Q about Eton maths B

(10 Posts)
ksquestion Fri 12-Aug-16 17:54:02

Anyone know anything about this? DS is preparing for next year. He seems to be able to do the questions reliably, but not fast enough to finish the paper in the time allowed. He's not at a school with a lot of experience at KS so I don't know whether to be more impressed that he can do the questions or more worried that he's too slow. Any idea of what's typical/competitive/impressive, anyone? Do successful candidates finish?

peteneras Sun 14-Aug-16 20:53:51

The KS papers at Eton are famed for being notoriously hard. The exams are reckoned to be the hardest anywhere for a 13-year-old. It is generally agreed that the standard is more akin to an 18-year-old! Brilliant boys from around the world come to Eton to compete for the KS every year. Last year there were more than 130 boys from apprx. 67 schools sat the exams in the hope of winning one of the 14 KS places on offer.

Your DS looks like he’s only 12 years old if he’s now preparing for the KS for next year. And for him to be able to do the Maths B questions reliably at this young age is indeed remarkable! Not surprising then he’s unable to finish the 10 questions in 90 minutes. But he must aim to be able to finish all 10 questions by the time he sits the KS next year. Each of the 10 questions carry equal marks, i.e. 10 marks per question. Needless to say, the goal is to try to amass as many marks as possible in the given time.

Maths B, as you may know, is not a compulsory paper but serious candidates almost always attempt the paper - in fact, they don't take prisoners and attempt all 10 papers!

And what’s more, the successful KS candidates almost always aced all the 10 papers they take with grades ranging from between ‘A’ and ‘B+’ These are the sort of grades your DS must aim for to get on the Roll.

Note: Very few candidates are given an A+, and apprx. half the candidates in each subject are graded B-, BC or C.

ksquestion Sun 14-Aug-16 23:01:37

Lol, thanks Peteneras, inimitable. You write "But he must aim to be able to finish all 10 questions by the time he sits the KS next year." Aim, of course, why wouldn't he, but may I push for a concrete example? I realise it's going back a bit, and perhaps you don't remember, but was your DS regularly finishing all questions on Maths B papers in the run up to the KS? Did he finish the real thing?

peteneras Mon 15-Aug-16 13:24:15

Yes, ksq, that was a blindingly obvious statement, wasn’t it - i.e. aiming to finish all questions. Sorry!

What I meant to say was, by the time your DS sits the KS exams next year, which is actually just a little over half a year’s time, he should be able to feel confident in answering all the questions but in a very limited time span. In theory, he has under ten minutes (9) to answer each question which has many parts. Obviously, some questions are harder than the others and would require more time. But what seems to be a hard question to one may be a piece of cake to another.

The KS papers are meant to test a candidate’s knowledge and application of the subject that is being examined. In Maths B, for example, most bright boys would be able to answer most, if not all, the questions in (say) three or five hours. But in the real test, he has only 1½ hours to do it. In other words, a successful candidate must know his subject thoroughly and apply it to the questions that he is answering. Speed is of the essence here.

Aiming to answer all the questions in the allocated time does not necessarily mean that a boy must get all the answers right. That would be virtually impossible! In Maths B, the examiners are keen to reward boys who can demonstrate knowledge and real ability - be able to apply their knowledge in their answers to the questions being tackled. Eton is at pains to stress the importance of showing the (full) workings to all the questions being answered. I cannot emphasise this point enough. Even though the final answer may be incorrect (not important) but the approach (application) taken to arrive at the final answer may be just the stuff the examiners are looking for and good marks will be awarded. Hence, making an attempt to answer ALL questions. To leave any questions unanswered is to throw valuable marks away. You can't afford that!

peteneras Mon 15-Aug-16 13:33:02

Yes, I know DS usually finished all the questions in Maths B papers including the actual KS paper in which he scored a grade ‘B+’. I used to tutor him myself before he went to prep school and I’d always insisted he attempted all the questions. Funnily enough, I wasn’t quite interested in the answer(s) at the end but how he arrived at those answers. I emphasised on speed and application. In the end, he actually beat me in my own game.

I remember there were times when even I had to spend time pondering an approach to a particularly difficult question (the donkey’s way) but DS took half the time (or less) and answered it correctly. I couldn’t believe it and asked him how he did that? He replied, “You taught me previously”. I said I never taught you this (particular problem) and he replied, “Yes, you did - remember last time you taught me about a certain road with x number of lampposts of varying heights . . . etc. . . etc. and I applied the same principle on this question.”

Wow! I didn’t even think about that (principle) myself.

ksquestion Mon 15-Aug-16 14:26:46

Thanks, that gives me a bit more of a feel for it.

I'd still welcome anyone else's comments. Minority interest, I know, but there must be at least a few hundred parents out there with recent experience of this, so maybe one or two are here! Feel free to PM me if commenting here is too outing.

Michaelahpurple Wed 17-Aug-16 00:15:58

You do not need to get all 10 questions out fully to get a scholarship, depending of course on what happens on the other papers! They made the paper a bit meaner this year, reducing the number of questions , giving less choice, which further supports that v v b few children ever got all 10 out. My son is at a school which wins KS and OS awards most years and they are definitely not told to expect to get them all done successfully.

ksquestion Wed 17-Aug-16 05:11:35

Thanks Michaelahpurple! That's really interesting about it having fewer questions this year - given that it's been 10 questions for so long, I'm surprised they didn't announce the change (as they did for the French say). Do you know how many questions there were this year? And did the questions seem harder, or was reduced choice the only way it seemed "meaner"? (In quotes because fewer, harder questions would likely be good news for my deep but not speedy DS!)

ksquestion Sat 11-Mar-17 11:40:06

Following up to answer my own question in case it's useful to anyone else: yes, the 2016 maths B had only 8 questions, not the usual 10. They were told all questions were worth the same number of marks, but not told how many marks each part of each question got. Curiously, my DS thought the paper was if anything easier than other maths Bs (but this may just be because he's getting better at them - glad to say he does reliably finish these days). The other change last year was that for both maths papers they had to answer in the spaces provided on the question papers, not on separate sheets.

ksquestion Sat 11-Mar-17 11:41:24

No idea if either of these changes is permanent or was just a one-off experiment. Well, it keeps life interesting...

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