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: CEM, ISEB and UKiset. ISEB tests are favoured by Harrow, St Paul’s Boys and Westminster whilst Eton, Marlborough, St Paul’s Girls and CLSB/G use the CEM tests. UKiset is mostly used for overseas students, although some British schools, including Charterhouse and Tonbridge, have adopted it as well.
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 practice 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. The more comfortable students can get with sitting tests on a computer the better.
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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