An increasing number of independent schools have recently put pre-tests in place, which has caused a flurry of panic among parents and children alike. These tests are purposefully designed with as little transparency as possible and no tutor or school can claim to have in depth knowledge or experience of the tests themselves, in their current form.
There are three main types of pre-test at the moment, CEM, ISEB and UKiset, although others are being developed. The ISEB Common Pre-tests are used by a number of schools, including Harrow, St Paul’s Boys Eton and Westminster, and are often sat by candidates as an initial assessment before they take a more school-specific pre-test (e.g. The Eton List Test). CEM make the computerized parts of a number of these more school-specific tests, e.g. The Harrow Test. The UKiset is mostly used by independent schools to assess overseas students.
The three different types share the following common factors: time pressure; adaptive questioning and a computerised medium. Adaptive means that correctly answered questions will lead to harder questions and vice versa. Therefore, it is unlikely that two students will receive the same test and no past papers are available so the pre-tests remain a bit of an enigma!
However, the cold hard fact is that the numeracy and literacy content of these tests is rooted in Key Stage Two of the national curriculum. As such, a comprehensive understanding of the 11+ Maths and English syllabus will stand any student in good stead for the tests. Beyond numeracy and literacy, student feedback suggests that the tests often contain a number of sections on cognitive ability including logic. While these are hard to practise for, spending time on the various apps available for “brain training” will be useful.
In addition to this, it is worth focusing on exam technique, speed and practice of computerised testing.
- Exam technique is very important. If students know what they are being asked to do, the questions become much easier for them. Often questions may be testing something quite simple but be presented in a complex or unusual way.
- Speed is another essential factor and students should be given an ever restricted amount of time for practice exercises that they do. Within the months running up to the tests, students should get used to working under time pressure and not panicking when thrown unexpected questions.
- We have developed a website called KeystoneTests which provides practice in reasoning and Maths to familiarise students with the format of computer-based testing. We recommend that students undertake as wide a variety of computer based practice as possible from the web-based tests and apps that are available including the following. The more comfortable students can get with sitting tests on a computer the better.
The following websites also offer workbooks and revision guides pitched at the 11+ and Key Stage Two curriculum:
Advice to students in Singapore sitting pre-tests
Keystone has worked with many students educated at international or local schools in Singapore before sitting pre-tests. A good deal of the KS2 curriculum will already have been covered but it is important to ensure that there are no gaps before your child sits the test. Working online, our tutors use time-pressured, multiple-choice resources which help students to be supple and adaptable test-takers as well as ensuring they have covered any aspects of the KS2 syllabus with which your child is not already familiar.
We have a number of excellent tutors who have a great deal of experience with preparation for pre-tests. For more details, please call the office for a chat with one of our client managers.
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