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Sitting Competitive Entrance Exams – Nine Questions To Consider

With entrance exams to London’s top tier schools becoming ever competitive I have shared some insights and advice to help guide parents through the process:

Date : 31/05/2023

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Uploaded by : Anne-marie
Uploaded on : 31/05/2023
Subject : Entrance Exams

1. Should my child be doing entrance exams?

One of the biggest issues is that this question is not asked enough. I think a lot of parents fail to truly understand what is involved in prepping for entrance exams. Not every kid is cut from the same cloth and not every kid should be moulded to be from that same cloth. When I do my consultations and assessments, I am brutally honest about the starting points of that child and the likelihood of success vs. suitability of the desired school. If done well, I think the exam process is a brilliant way to improve academic, emotional and social intelligence. The maturity and growth in our students is the real ultimate outcome here, not just the school they have gained admission to.

2. Which tutor to use?

This depends on your goals. If it is to achieve a place at one of the very top schools or get a scholarship, you will need to invest into a top tutor or super tutor. If you are lucky enough to have contacts that can personally refer a top tutor to you, this is often better than ‘googling’ and contracting a tutor from the popular tuition agencies. For clients that are looking for the very best we have a small team of SuperTutors that travel around the world to work with clients. If you can’t afford one of the top tutors, I would advise getting an initial session or consultation with one of them to put a plan together and put you on the right path.

3. When is the right time to start using a tutor?

In general, tuition has greater effects in younger children. From my experience and through my study of cognitive science, I know that younger primary school children have a higher level of learning plasticity in their brains. That is, their learning capacity is much higher than at later stages in life it is still within the exponential part of the learning curve. The key to giving children the best push ahead in education is to give them a solid foundation during the early stages. It is much harder to go back and fix problems than to build the learning bricks correctly in the first place. For entrance exams, I would get a consultation and assessment no later than a year prior.

4. How do you make learning fun and interactive?

This is so important, I am glad you asked. There needs to be a bond between tutor and child there needs to be trust. At Milestones, the team is trained to use visual organisers, apps, videos, podcasts and a large variety of multi-sensory stimuli. Where appropriate we get our students to enter competitions, do reflective diary entries, create presentations and go out to utilise skills in a way that aligns with their interests. Active learning is the only way students truly commit content to memory. You cannot use tutors that will sit and talk at your student for two hours and then set homework. This is passive and the student’s progress will be minimal and slow. You have to engage in discussion and use reflexive questioning to get the student to think about answers or conclusions themselves

5. What about students who use tutors to get into top schools but then can’t keep up?

This should never really be the case. To me, that says you have had a poorly skilled tutor or the student should not be applying to such schools. This is one of the reasons why I must assess the student to determine their starting points and so I can give an honest indication to the parents of what can be accomplished. You should not be sending your child to a school where they will be continuously struggling. There is a big difference between challenge and struggle. On the other hand, a good tutor would prepare the student in a way that puts them ahead long term. I do not just equip students to pass exams I equip them with the skillset and knowledge to enter a trajectory of excellence long term.

6. How can I improve my child’s reading ability?

You should try and push your child’s reading ability from the get go. In order to prepare for admissions exams, children need to be reading more challenging texts, and more importantly, need to have an opinion on them. GCSE texts work well such as Lord of the Flies and Animal Farm. Perhaps you could read the same book alongside your child and discuss each chapter as you reach it. This will not only improve analysis skills, but communication skills also. They should also be familiar with both prose and poetical forms.

7. How do I keep my child motivated throughout the process?

Rewards work well as incentives. Preparing for admissions exams can be a lengthy and stressful process, for both parents and children. It is important to track the achievement of goals and to reward children in order to make the child feel as if they are working towards a shorter term goal as opposed to the overall admission. This kind of incentive can keep the child engaged and motivated with the process.

8. How can I support my child and keep them motivated throughout the process?

It is not enough for parents to have done the rounds looking for schools, finding the best tutors and discussing the which child got into where with other parents. What is needed is the parents to be wholly part of the preparation process. If you have a maths tutor for your child, why not ask the tutor if you can do the homework too? Doing those 10 minute maths exercises before school with your child and pulling up stories for creative writing will allow your child to feel that they are not alone in the process. It is one of the most encouraging motivators to keep your child going before the actual exam date.

9. What if they don’t get in?

First and foremost, admissions to schools should not be the ultimate outcome of the tuition process. In the preparation for admissions exams, children will learn so much more than what is found on the test paper on the day. The process not only enhances their education, but aids the development of their character also. More often than not, preparation for admissions exams instils a strong work ethic in children which enables them to succeed in whichever school they attend. The process is about the progression of your child. Therefore whatever results the envelope holds, a celebration should ensue. Ultimately, the failure of not obtaining an offer to your chosen school will be dwarfed by your child’s growth.

This resource was uploaded by: Anne-marie