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Common Entrance Exam 11+ Jan 2020

(12 Posts)
AMxx Mon 30-Dec-19 16:47:02

My daughter is due to sit the common entrance in January and has been doing some past papers over the last few months as practice. She's not had a tutor and is currently in a state school.

I'm wondering what is considered a good grade?? I read that each school can determine their own admittance threshold but hoping some Mumsnetters have past experience they could share :-)

OP’s posts: |
flickeringcandle45 Mon 30-Dec-19 17:48:47

It depends on the school.

Can you say which school (s) she is aiming for? Day or boarding? Generally speaking London day schools are the most competitive. Then a small handful of girls boarding schools ( WA, CLC and maybe St Mary’s Ascot). Other than that boarding is a buyers market if you have a well rounded, reasonably intelligent, British DD and the parents look as if they will be able to pay).

If you are an overseas applicant the more popular schools seek to balance their boarding intake to make sure that no one nationality starts to dominate.

AMxx Mon 30-Dec-19 17:56:23

Thank you flickeringcandle! DDs first choice school is Downe House. I only have one and am biased so not necessarily an objective judge of her aptitude ;-) She's well rounded, well read, articulate and has always done well at school. Her highest grade on past papers is ~70%

I'm just unsure what they 'expect' if that makes sense!

OP’s posts: |
flickeringcandle45 Mon 30-Dec-19 18:26:39

I assume she has already successfully completed the assessment day and been offered a place subject to satisfactory performance at CE. I honestly do not think she would have been invited to sit CE if they were not very confident that she was going to do well enough to be offered a place. And schools like DH are very good at differentiating between genuinely bright girls from the state system and over tutored students from private schools.

AMxx Mon 30-Dec-19 19:09:28

You're correct, DD did attend an assessment day earlier this autumn and she was offered a conditional place subject to achieving 'satisfactory' grade at Common Entrance. I'm thankful for your comments on differentiation, I hadn't really thought of that! They did make a point of coming up to me on the assessment day to say she'd been impressive :-)

She's studied to close the gaps but getting nervous now the exam is approaching, I think I'm looking for reassurance she's bridged enough knowledge to get a high enough grade. It's mostly science where the gaps are, as it's been barely taught in her state school unfortunately. There was a lot to catch up and we only decided to go this direction last summer, so's she's only had 6 months to assimilate a lot of content. Thankfully she has a natural interest in biology and chemistry, physics less so.

OP’s posts: |
QGMum Mon 30-Dec-19 20:42:51

And schools like DH are very good at differentiating between genuinely bright girls from the state system and over tutored students from private schools.

@Flickeringcandle45 How do you know this and how can the schools differentiate?

cabbageking Mon 30-Dec-19 22:04:05

Most selective schools have no pass or fail rate.

They simply take the top x amount depending on places available.
One year the last place might be offered to a student with 80%.
The next year 65% may be the lowest place offer.
Each child is competing against the next child.
Ideally you need to be aiming for @85% in case it is a high performing cohort.

AnotherNewt Mon 30-Dec-19 22:10:08

If it's a CE exam, then the numbers of conditional offers should match the number of places available, and the pass mark should be given when the offer is made. 100% pass rate (all candidates meeting their offer) is nitprmal.

If it's the ISEB exam being used as a competitive entrance exam (ie not the common entrance conditional offer system) then as cabbagepatch says, the higher the marks the better and without knowing which school, it's really not pssibie to have a stab at a number

AnotherNewt Mon 30-Dec-19 22:15:45

Oops blush you did name the school. Sorry, should have been more careful.

As it is CE, then she should be OK. If they did not tell you what their pass mark is, perhaps ring to ask.

The main thing is to keep your DD calm, and to reassure her that meeting the conditions of her offer is well within her capability. It's no longer a competition, just the final qualification.

flickeringcandle45 Mon 30-Dec-19 22:38:47


The school has already met OPs dd, she has sat tests and been observed in a group setting. They have seen references and taken into account her previous educational background. They have already selected her and offered her a place subject to a satisfactory performance at CE.
The CE is not a competitive exam in this context. So unless the school has form for over offering - and I do not believe that it does -the CE exam is a formality. And - as with all but the most competitive boys boarding schools - no one fails the CE. No one tells the students this as they want them to keep on working.
OPs DD should do her best on the test but she does not need to get worked up over it - and suggesting that she needs to be aiming at 85% is misleading.

AMxx Mon 30-Dec-19 23:18:07

Thank you everyone. I have little experience of all this having been wholly educated abroad so it's all very confusing to me. So many different approaches for different schools!

There seemed to be a very large number of girls for assessment, far more than they admit so I assumed they winnow down via CE perhaps the assessment is the selective bit. They did not cite a pass rate in the offer, only that they were confident she would do well at CE.

@flickeringcandle - you are again spot on. Along with various other activities, DD sat an exam during the assessment. It was an selective online adaptive test set by Durham. As far as I understood, the test is designed to assess inherent aptitude ( I cannot say how or whether it objectively can...) and to be 'tutor' proof. DD also took part in various group activities, a sport activity and a 1-2-1 interview with the Head. They also had lunch :-) The offer came after this subject to CE, but what you say makes a great deal of sense as I understand not all girls invited to assessment received an offer.

I will continue to reassure her and remind her to have faith in herself!

Thank you so much all!!

OP’s posts: |
QGMum Tue 31-Dec-19 08:42:47

Good luck@AMxx to your dd in the CE exam. Sounds like she will do just fine.

@flickeringcandle45 thanks for the clear explanation of the selection process for boarding schools.

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