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Admission to Independent schools

(35 Posts)
rose1947 Tue 26-Sep-17 17:40:05

We are keen to send our son to a boarding school and shortlisted Harrow boys, Westminster school and Eton College. My son is a bright boy but not a prodigy, he is in year 5 at a prep school and always been in top set. The school is not preparing them for Pretest or 11 plus, but they do prepare them for common entrance exam in year 8. We visited Harrow boys school last week and my son liked the school, we met many parents mostly from London. They mentioned that the London prep-schools are preparing the children for Pretest with regular computer based tests. We are very worried, we are new to this, could someone with their children in these schools advice me on how to prepare for Pretest. Is this test tougher than 11 plus test, are there any resources/test papers to practice. Any advice/suggestions will be gratefully received.

Hillingdon Tue 26-Sep-17 17:43:21

You have chosen three of the most difficult schools to get into in the UK.

How many boys go to those schools from your prep? If it is significant then they will advise.

imoverlyengaged Tue 26-Sep-17 17:59:52

If I was looking for a 13 - 18 boys boarding school, I would not include Westminster on my list. Great school, great academics but junior boarding is more like St Paul's - a convenience for those who live a bit too far away to come in every day but will go home at the weekend. If I was looking for that kind of weekly boarding I would exclude Eton and Harrow and add St Paul's.

What have his prep said about the best schools for him? They should know if he is bright enough to get 70% at CE. To get into Eton and Harrow he will also need to excel in an extra curricular area.

BubblesBuddy Tue 26-Sep-17 18:49:54

If the school is not preparing for Pretest then they do not normally have boys going into those schools. Look at the destination schools at 13 to see where boys do go and assume you will get prep for CE for those type of schools. Not all prep schools are the same and you, preferably, need recognised feeders for the schools you mention to make life a bit easier. I am not sure how you diy. Others will have more idea.

ChocolateWombat Tue 26-Sep-17 19:52:01

I would approach your Prep and explain your intentions and ask what they can do to.....prep him. If this is a Prep which goes to 13, many of the schools they feed into would need a pre-test of some type, so I would want to know why they aren't providing the prep required. I would expect them to arrange something for him.

Eton2017 Tue 26-Sep-17 20:23:17

This "If the school is not preparing for Pretest then they do not normally have boys going into those schools." is not true. They may simply have the courage of their convictions and (correctly) believe the senior schools when they say no preparation is necessary! DS's prep sends children regularly to such schools and does not prepare for pretest (though I think DS did have a practice interview with an unfamiliar adult to check he could cope with that experience).

The advice to look at destination schools, on the other hand, is good; much easier to be aiming at a senior school your current school understands than not.

AnotherNewt Tue 26-Sep-17 20:28:01

Eton has a unique computer-based pre-test which can't really be prepped for.

Other pre-tests however would require some preparation, even if it only to the extent that the pupils are confident with exams conditions and styles of questions. I think you need to check exactly what they do to prepare boys to secure conditional offers, because it does sound rather as if you're missing a bit or the school is very cavalier (assuming it has a parent body who hope to send their DC to schools which pre-test)

trinity0097 Tue 26-Sep-17 20:57:03

Eton now pre-screen using the ISEB common Pre-Test.

Most schools now pre-test at 11 to go at 13, where I work it's just a handful of girls schools that don't, e.g. Wycombe abbey, Benenden

With so many kids applying for places it's a must that children need to be as prepared as possible. 872 pupils have registered for the Wellington pre-test this year, for 185 places.

rose1947 Wed 27-Sep-17 07:23:35

Thank you all. In last 5 years one boy has gone to Harrow. Local secondary schools do not need pretest, they offer conditional place based on headmasters reference and 65% in common entrance in year 8. I have spoken to headmaster, but no use. They will give interview practice and prepare for common entrance. No support for ISEB Pretest or the initial school exams which is worrying.. with regards to extracurricular activities, he is learning 2 instruments, taking Grade 3 Piano, Guitar, Lamda; Prose & Verses, public speaking, got merits and distinctions. Few certificates from Badgers, raised 500 pounds to charity trekking Machu Piechu. Very keen in sports just in school, not in any clubs. I expected Prep school taking huge fees would help, but unfortunately we have to prepare him. There is 11 plus coaching for grammar schools, I have registered with them, will this help ?, Are independent school exams similar to grammar schools. Any tips for preparing ?

imoverlyengaged Wed 27-Sep-17 08:12:50

Have you considered moving to a prep with a track record of getting students into your chosen schools?

rose1947 Wed 27-Sep-17 08:57:49

There are no alternative, this is the only school which do common entrance. Other schools have secondary education hence don’t bother.

2014newme Wed 27-Sep-17 09:39:13

A boarding prep people may mean rather than what you have locally
Badgers certificates aren't going to get your child into Eton you need proper support

JoJoSM2 Wed 27-Sep-17 10:20:03

Tuition for grammar schools will help your son with English/Maths/verbal - the curriculum is the same everywhere and there's only so many different things they can ask. However, it won't help you with things like the interview or references so those will need to get sorted out.

SpikeStoker Wed 27-Sep-17 11:35:43

From personal experience if you are looking at these super selective the pre-tests are the important hurdle, the CE13+ is just really to keep them learning as very few fail to get their place. To stand the greatest chance of obtaining a highly sought after place at one of these schools you will need the full support of your prep school in every respect. If your prep school does not send boys (yes plural) to these schools every year they are not best placed to do this. You may have to seriously consider moving prep schools if your school is not a frequent feeder. Harsh but true.

BubblesBuddy Wed 27-Sep-17 13:25:59

I also think you are in the wrong school. It has a cosy role in sending boys to local schools, not the bigger names by the look of it. One in five yearsto Harrow tells you all you need to know. You do need to move him to a school that preps for the schools you want and maybe could get you look at other very good schools too, such as Rugby, Oundle, Charterhouse etc.

MrsPatmore Wed 27-Sep-17 15:58:02

Ds sat the computer pre test for Westminster Under (so it may have been a different test?). He had prepared quite intensively for the 11+ grammar school tests in vr/nvr/spacial reasoning, maths and English. He'd never done an adaptive computer test before. He sailed through! I think the 13+ prevtest sat in Year 6 is either the same or similar. GL practice papers are good and speed is of the essence.

ChocolateWombat Wed 27-Sep-17 20:22:59

Sorry this doesn't particularly help OP, but I think this thread just shows that when people choose a Prep, they need some kind of idea of the type of school they will want after Prep and also the entry methods - then to choose a Prep that actually does Prep in the way needed.

I have known 1 genuine Prep - ie one that goes to 13+ and preps for a range of secondary options. It offered 11+ preparation for those applying to go to secondary at 11 or needing to do a pre-test in Yr6, for a 13+ offer. It also offered 13+ prep for those taking schools own entrance exams in Yr8, as well as prepping the Ye 7 and 8s for CE - so all bases covered. 2/3 left at 13 and 1/3 at 11.

Things are changing. Most 13+ schools have their own entrance exams now and even if they still use CE, it is more of a formality and not the reason why an offer is given in the first place. Most 13+ schools want an exam taken in Yr6 either to be a pre-test before other tests, or as a test for a deferred entry place. Therefore, Preps NEED to be prepping kids for exams in Yr6. It's really important unless they are not a true Prep, just a Junior who sends all their kids to a 13+ which has no entry criteria other than CE.

Lots of Preps are increasingly tied in with senior schools. The seniors like to have Junior Departments to guarantee a certain number of people moving through each year. More of the truly independent Preps not tied to seniors are stopping at 11, as more and more secondaries take at 11 to grab people before they go elsewhere and to guarantee a longer term stream of fees. Even if they take in at 13, they also take in at 11. The amount if Preps where everyone goes at 13 or who don't need to do any exams at all at 11 must be a tiny number and they only really work for people going to a tiny number of senior schools now.

rose1947 Thu 28-Sep-17 06:57:21

Thanks mrspatmore, did your Ds find Westminster school test harder than grammar school test. The exam is set by GL, I will buy GL material. Did you use any online/computer based materials.

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Thu 28-Sep-17 07:08:27

This thread is giving me much food for thought re DD who is at a prep which feeds almost exclusively local public schools none of which I think, now she's nearing the age, is really right for her.
Wondering about moving her and trying for 13+ entry somewhere that's really right.

MrsPatmore Fri 29-Sep-17 09:56:29

Rose, the test is adaptive apparently so if you get a question wrong, it gives you another one at the same level and the child moves up or down. I think it is designed not to be finished and the questions are timed, certainly Ds said you needed to be quick thinking. I think there is a website called Bofa that does computer test practice but Ds said he'd never encountered some of the question types before but I guess the 11+ practice does get them up to speed.
The second round was challenging; wordy maths and written English (creative and analysis of a poem). Then when you pass that, final hurdle of verbal interview with a maths and English master and a group interview with the Master of the Under School and the Master of the Great School. Very gruelling for Ds but he did get offered a place.

MrsPatmore Fri 29-Sep-17 10:05:03

Forgot to say, Ds said the super selective school tests were on a par with WUS. Second round at WUS a bit harder. The interviews with the English and Maths masters really probed DS skills further so that was different from the Grammar tests.

Whitecurrants Sun 01-Oct-17 18:12:16

Mrs Patmore, are you talking about the admission process for year 7 entry at WUS? This isn’t the same as the pre-test for Westminster School.
OP, bear in mind that as mentioned already Westminster isn’t a boarding school in the way that Eton and Harrow are.

rose1947 Mon 02-Oct-17 11:48:24

Thank you very much. Yes Westminster school boarding is different, children go home on Saturday and return on Sunday. Is WUS a secondary school, any connection with WS.

rose1947 Mon 02-Oct-17 11:54:58

Whitecurrent, in what way ISEB pretest different. Any experience with these school entrance exams. We can’t change his school now, he is in Year 5 and there are no feeding schools in the area. I will try to coach him at home. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Michaelahpurple Fri 06-Oct-17 17:05:53

Westminster underschool 11+ and big school 13+ conditional offer in year 6 processes both start with the iseb computer test, as do Harrow and eton (although the latter sits theirs I. Year 7 giving a second bite at the cherry.

Buy a few verbal and non verbal books (not bond - cgp better) and get him to do Bofa (search Bofa 11+). Make sure has covered the indicated maths syllabus.

My boys were at westminster under and the only focussed preparation was giving them a few BT and nvr papers to take home. Those at neighbouring london preps were told to do bofa.

It is is odd how little is sone in school for the pre-screening compares to the sheer flog 11+ schools do for 11+ entry when it is largely the same test

And yes, your prep is clearly not really a prep, more of a local feeder school. Do they not send children to any "name" boarding schools?

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