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☰ Entrance Exam Preparations

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Entrance Exam Preparations

Posted on October 14 2020

Entrance Exam Preparations

In the middle of a global pandemic, life outside the grounds of Forest Park might be growing ever more uncertain, but life inside has given some much-needed stability to our children. Our upper key stage two classes are knee-deep in preparations for the grammar school entrance examinations - delayed by a few weeks this year, but looming ever closer.

Though our fantastic Year 6 class may be coming to the end of their entrance examination preparations, the baton has been passed to our equally fantastic Year 5 class, who are embarking on the early stages of theirs. So what, exactly, does this process entail?

Each week in Year 5, the children sit an 11+ exam paper to develop their exam techniques, timing and experience of exam-style questions. Each night they complete homework to support their learning, which includes a subscription to an online platform ideal for entrance exam prep. Early morning classes begin in October for Year 5 children, with 45 minutes of focused teaching before the school bell rings to signal the start of the day. Holiday classes offer additional opportunities to practise. Children are continually assessed by the class teacher and early morning teachers, and this information is shared among the KS2 team to enable targeted support. Later in the year, mock exams will offer the opportunity to experience an exam-style setting to help settle nerves.

The rigorous academic demands of the entrance exams can be a foreboding prospect for children so young, and our aim at Forest Park is always to reduce the pressure by normalising this process in a supportive and familiar environment. Far better to build up to the exams in small, graduated steps so that children can grow confidence over the course of the year. Every year, we are impressed by the confidence and positivity the children show when the time comes to take the final leap.

What can I do to help my child prepare for the entrance examinations? One of the very best things you can do is ensure your child reads, reads, and reads. The CEM test relies on a large, sophisticated vocabulary and this can take many years to build up - the more words your child is exposed to, the better. Encourage them to ask you the meaning of unfamiliar words they find in books - quite often, they skate over them when reading independently! For maths, arithmetic skills, familiarity with written calculation methods and times table knowledge will be a huge confidence boost. For times tables, these must be practised repeatedly over time to ensure they stick in long-term memory. Can they recall 7x8 rapidly a year after they’ve learned their 7 and 8 multiplication tables? Quick recall of these is necessary for finding equivalent fractions, division, percentages… etc - they feed into just about every area of maths so their importance is immense. If these foundations are in place, it’s an excellent starting point!

...And finally… not every child takes the entrance examinations - just as in adult life, we’re all different and all plough our own furrow. There are lots of excellent schools in Trafford and the most important thing is to find the school that is the best fit for each child, whether that is grammar, comprehensive or independent. The whole picture of a child is needed to find a best fit - academically, emotionally and socially - so that every single child goes on to a school that feels like home and that will bring out the best in them.

Best of luck to our current Year 6 children!

Mrs Hewitt

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