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Independent School Entry and SATS

(21 Posts)
zanzibarmum Tue 22-Sep-09 22:24:19

Just how tough are entrance exams to independent schools? What SAT levels did DC achieve in English and Maths and gain entry to their choice of school? Some say you need to be minimum 5b at year 5; others say not. Views please based on experience...

SueW Tue 22-Sep-09 23:45:05

DD was at prep and is in an independent senior school.

About 70% of her year group achieved level 5 in SATS at Y6. I can't even remember if I knew what she got at Y5 but it was kind of expected most of them would get all level 5s at Y6.

Quattrocento Tue 22-Sep-09 23:50:36

All schools are different. It depends whether you are targeting an academically selective independent or a mixed ability independent.

My DCs went the academically selective route. DD's prep didn't do SATS - many independents don't - but expect all level 5s roughly (some will do better).

DS's has just started doing SAYS. He has got level 4a in year 4. So we expect level 5s (and better in maths) at the end of year 6.

Standards of entrance exam vary according to the type of school. Some are a breeze and some very difficult. Work out what is right for your DCs out of the options that are available to you locally

GrimmaTheNome Wed 23-Sep-09 00:00:14

It all depends on the school. Some independent schools are academically selective; some aren't very selective at all. While they all (that I know of) do have an entrance exam, they don't necessarily just go by that. My DD is in yr6 now so we started looking round last year. One said they really take anyone who they think will benefit from going to their school (ie, don't have to be academically fantastic but right attitude from kids/parents). Another is more selective but will admit a child that has some sort of 'spark' at interview even if the exam results aren't uniformly great.

I think the only school that mentioned that they were looking for girls who were getting level 5 SATs in yr 5 was the state grammar.

If the schools you're interested in don't volunteer this info at their open day, ask them! My experience is that they positively welcome intelligent questions from prospective parents.

Drayford Wed 23-Sep-09 00:42:54

My DC's schools did not consider SAT's, just their own entrance exam results (both schools have prep schools that don't participate in SAT). I gather from other parents that the entrance papers to DS's Independent School were much tougher than Yr 6 SAT's.

DD entered a new Independent at 6th form and despite eventually getting A's & A*'s at GCSE still needed to pass their general entrance papers before being considered for a place.

singersgirl Wed 23-Sep-09 09:42:48

SATs aren't necessarily a very good guide.
The maths required on the entrance exams is generally trickier than SATs (usually there's a lot more problem solving) and sometimes diligent children who score very highly on SATs-type tests aren't so good at the lateral thinking questions, and vice versa - the careless child who makes simple mistakes in a straightforward SATs paper can be very good at reasoning.

The comprehension papers are beyond anything they ask in SATs in terms of difficulty of text and inference etc.

I think they're looking for more creativity and flair in the story than SATs tasks demand - so a child could only get a 4 for a SATs writing task because they didn't tick all the boxes for a 5 (not enough sophisticated punctuation), but score highly in an exam because of the imaginative nature of their writing.

This is just my view, I must stress, having seen DS1 go through SATs and entrance exams last year, and seeing what the different papers etc demanded.

DS1 did get all 5s at the end of Y6, but he wasn't getting all 5s at the end of 5.

iamdisappointedinyou Wed 23-Sep-09 10:31:05

Not independent school experience, but state grammar. Prep school got about 75% of the kids with grammar offers; most went to either grammar or independent.
DC got school prize for being Bestest in Year in Y5 but, less than 6 months later, was one of the minority that didn't get a grammar place. There are no guarantees in life.sad

zanzibarmum Wed 23-Sep-09 13:59:48

Thank you for these interesting comments. Clearly it depends on the school and SATs are not the same as entrance exams. What I am trying get at is whether, at say at Girls Day Trust Schools, it is worth applying in Year 6 if the indication is that DC is not on target to get 5bs SATs in Year 5.

Personally I agree with the sentiments expressed that the SAT levels tell you little about the child's personality, work ethic, creativity etc but in people's experience is there a SATs level score in Year 5 below which one just should bother applying to fairly selective schools like GDST schools.

Quattrocento Wed 23-Sep-09 19:53:14

My DD does not go to a GDST school but I know them to be academically selective. I'd ask the school in question if I were you.

5b sounds a bit lowish and lower than that might not be at the right sort of standard. But if that's coming out of the state system then the SAT level might not be fully indicative of your DD's capability.

vinblanc Wed 23-Sep-09 20:02:46

If the senior school is non-selective then it doesn't matter about SATs performance. The school will simply use these as additional information for early setting.

If the school is selective, they will probably put a lot of emphasis on verbal and non-verbal reasoning tests, for which SATs are no help at all. A solid SATs performance will be helpful, however - so a level 4 or 5 is what you are looking for in Maths and English. They will not actually be looking at SATs levels but will have their own assessment papers in Maths and English that are targeted at those levels. They will also be interested in a junior school reference.

If your child is going for a selective place from a state primary, SATs are a good preparation for the corresponding exams. However, you should also provide some Bond Assessment papers for your child - you can get packs from WH Smith and other booksellers. Although you can't revise for the test, it is important to be familiar with the format.

If your child is top of the class in their junior school, you should be looking for a scholarship in the senior school, so you really shouldn't be complacent about their ablity and assurance of a place.

SueW Wed 23-Sep-09 20:50:05

Two years ago, my DD did a GDST exam & interview and the exam for seniors of her prep which is less selective/academically biased.

She was offered a place at the GDST school and got a major academic scholarship to the seniors of her own school (24% discount on fees) which is the highest award given, I think they only give a ocuple each year.

There were girls from the GDST prep who were expecting to get scholarships and didn't, and the same happened this year.

Def agree you should get somebond vr/nvr papers. DD scored around 95% consistently in these after the first paper on which she got about 90%. Her school recommended which ones she have - some children were on one level, some on another. (Does books 4 & 5 sound right, sorry it was 2years ago!)

SueW Wed 23-Sep-09 20:51:29

Two years ago, my DD did a GDST exam & interview and the exam for seniors of her prep which is less selective/academically biased.

She was offered a place at the GDST school and got a major academic scholarship to the seniors of her own school (24% discount on fees) which is the highest award given, I think they only give a ocuple each year.

There were girls from the GDST prep who were expecting to get scholarships and didn't, and the same happened this year.

Def agree you should get somebond vr/nvr papers. DD scored around 95% consistently in these after the first paper on which she got about 90%. Her school recommended which ones she have - some children were on one level, some on another. (Does books 4 & 5 sound right, sorry it was 2years ago!)

GrimmaTheNome Wed 23-Sep-09 22:52:11

Living in a part of the country with no GDST schools, I was curious so took a look at their website. As they proudly report their own prep schools percentages of level 5s in year 6here - which are good but not 100% - then I would think that they'd be seeing level 5s in year 5 as pretty good, wouldn't you?

I hope Quattro was thinking of year 6 not 5 in the comment "5b sounds a bit lowish and lower than that might not be at the right sort of standard" shock

Just to throw something else in, DDs school does CAT tests in yr5 which are IQ rather than attainment exams. The school uses these scores more than the SATS as guidance when discussing the choice of secondary school with parents.

exexpat Wed 23-Sep-09 23:09:00

I agree that SATS and entrance tests are very different beasts. I feel SATS just test how well you can jump through the particular hoops they choose (and how much drill and repetition your teacher has put you through); entrance tests are designed to try and spot intelligence and potential.

Eg, my DS is bright, imaginative, good at maths but borderline dyspraxic (hopeless handwriting & messy layout). Was bored rigid during yr6 at state primary. Got mostly 5s in SATs, but a 4 in English, and I think just scraped 5 in Science (teacher had predicted a 4). But DS did brilliantly in entrance tests for two selective independent schools and was put in G&T programme at the one he ended up at, on the strength of his entrance test results. I think he actually found their maths paper interesting, and he said the verbal/non-verbal reasoning papers (which of course they don't do at school) were "fun". I highly recommend trying some practice papers.

singersgirl Thu 24-Sep-09 13:28:50

Exexpat has said it better than I did. Don't worry about the SATs results because they bear no relation at all to whether your daughter will get in to GDST school (unless, of course, she's struggling to get even a low level 4 at Y5). I very much doubt if most of the girls at those schools got all 5s in Y5.

zanzibarmum Thu 24-Sep-09 14:53:50

Singersgirl - that too is my sense. Despite all the hype about how this or that school's girls are so bright I suspect most would be the equivalent of say 5b at end of Year 6; providing there's a basic academic capability I suspect personality, sense of enquiry etc is the decisive factor.... which begs the question why do we all get into such a tizz

Quattrocento Thu 24-Sep-09 20:26:34

Yes, I was thinking of year 6 not 5 in the comment "5b sounds a bit lowish and lower than that might not be at the right sort of standard"

But a lot of independent preps don't do sats in any event and really much better to talk to the school

MrsGhoulofGhostbourne Fri 25-Sep-09 09:47:36

I think the OP was looking for an objective yardstick rather than meaning the independent would test in that same way? One of my DC was offered places at very selective schools, and I was inundated by parents of younger children asking me what sats results he got through primary shock so they could assess whether generally it was worth applying for their child, on the light of their childs levels.
I would have thought it more useful simply to ask the target schools - they will be better place to correlate the levels across the board and give an indication of whether it is worth applying ie no guaratntee of success but just as a baseline to weed out any unrealistic expectations (and wasted entrance fees!)

Litchick Fri 25-Sep-09 10:25:55

In my area the 11+ entrance tests for most indie schools are roughly similar. English comp and story/essay writing. Maths papers. Verbal/non verbal papers.
What is different depending on the nature of the school is how well you have to do. It's not a case of pass or fail.
It also depends how many places are up for grabs and how many are going to apply.
Some schools will take the top howver many students, others will put more emphasis on the interview.
I know one girl who won a scholarship to one academic school and yet didn't even get an offer at another.
You need to get in touch with each school you're thinking of and talk to them about what sort of puil they're after.

singersgirl Fri 25-Sep-09 19:07:05

Do you think independent schools could give that baseline, though? I imagine it would only be along the lines of 'at least a good Level 4 in Y5 with predictions of L5 in Y6'. Certainly, based on DS1's experience, you don't need all Level 5s in Y5 to get in to even highly selective schools grin.

MrsGhoulofGhostbourne Fri 25-Sep-09 20:07:20

SG - I agree would be along those lines - no more specific - don't know if they would say this but it would be helpful for prospective parents to have a view - a bit like unis which you know will take, say 2 Cs, whilst ohters would not look @ less that 2 As..

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