EXAM PAPERS PLUS BLOG   >  7+

Posted on in 7+, 8+

We’re delighted here at Exam Papers Plus to bring you our annual round-up of what came up in this year’s entrance exams. This article contains information on some of London’s top schools’ 7+ and 8+ exam processes for September 2017 entry as well advice on how to prepare.

 

If your child is aiming for 7+ or 8+ entry in 2018, this post will prove useful. The information is relevant for a number of schools, including:

 

 

  • St Paul’s Junior School
  • Westminster Under School
  • King’s Wimbledon
  • Latymer Prep
  • City of London School for Girls
  • Bute House
  • South Hampstead High School
  • North London Collegiate School
  • Highgate
  • Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ and Girls’ Junior Schools
  • Wetherby
  • Sussex House
  • Dulwich Prep London
  • Dulwich College Junior School
  • Bancroft’s School

 

The seven plus (7+) exam is often a child’s first experience of an academic entrance process. Most schools have both an exam and an interview or group assessment as part of their assessment. These could all be held on the same day or separately. Measuring both a child’s academic potential as well as his or her personality and attitude to learning is essential for informed selection.

 

Eight plus (8+) is a classic entry point for boys; few girls’ schools have this as an option (unless via an occasional place). There are many boys who don’t quite make it at 7+, but who nail it a year later; it’s amazing the difference twelve months can make in terms of academic maturity and stamina. The good news is that any preparation for 7+ will provide solid foundations and experience for 8+, so it is never wasted effort.

 

7+ and 8+ exams vary from school to school, but the top academic schools always include maths, English (comprehension and composition) and usually some reasoning too. Some schools have long papers (one school has a maths paper worth 83 marks), whilst others are split into sections. One school divided its comprehension into two short sections this year, whilst another combined its non-verbal reasoning (NVR) and comprehension into one paper.

 

English

 

In terms of English, animals featured heavily at 7+ this year, providing visual prompts for creative writing as well as comprehension subjects and story starters. Our 7+ English Writing pack is ideal for practising writing based on picture prompts. One school’s story picture prompt was of a crying rabbit looking longingly at a plate of carrots, and its comprehension included answering questions about a picture of an elephant and a written piece on a zebra.

 

An extract from Moomin Papa came up at one school, with an opening question asking candidates to answer in their own words. This was a long comprehension paper and many did not manage to finish it. The story was a continuation piece in the first person.

 

Other story writing tasks included writing a story entitled ‘The Magic Box’ and writing a story about ‘Bob the dog’. An 8+ composition task at another school gave candidates the choice of writing about ‘your hands’ or ‘the school’. The shortest story time this year was 15 minutes and the candidates were asked to write based on a picture prompt of a boy, a girl and a strange creature.

 

Poetry featured prominently in a number of 8+ comprehension exams.

 

Advice for the English section

 

English assessments allow for the measurement of how a child thinks as well as their potential for empathy and logical thought. As such, this section in exams can be challenging. For a question that has a tight timeframe (the 15 minute story for example), children should concentrate on quality over quantity and try and showcase what they have learnt in a focused way. They should be encouraged to stick to the question and ensure they are addressing it directly. Regurgitating a previous piece of creative writing, or descriptive section, just because it got praise at school or good marks in a mock exam, should be discouraged. Examiners will notice a ‘prepared piece’ instantly and could knock off marks if it is included and bears no relation to the question.

 

One school always includes a recorded listening task, which includes assessment of reasoning, close listening skills and comprehension. True to form, an animal was featured; the children were asked to ‘underline the hippo with the three spots’ and ‘underline the hippo whose toenails weren’t painted’. Many other schools also now incorporate tasks in their assessment that require children to listen carefully and follow verbal instructions. The best way to prepare for these types of questions is to make sure that your child is attentive, listens to others and learns to follow instructions with care and diligence. Dictation practice can help to build listening skills.

 

Finally, it’s worth remembering that not all comprehension tasks include a prose piece. This came up in one school’s literacy section:

 

  • Two comprehensions: one was a standard written piece about a cat going hunting at night, but the other was of a picture of a family preparing to go on holiday. With the latter, candidates were asked questions about the picture: Eg What two things might be dangerous in this picture? What two things suggest they might be going on holiday? Who in this picture would not be able to drive the car?

 

Maths

 

In maths, the following topics came up: number squares (up to 24); time; shapes; sequences; measurement; right angles (on a clock); shading in fractions; basic weight conversions; height; and money. Doubling numbers also featured, as did mental maths. One 8+ maths paper also included a ‘Magic Number’ exercise with triple digit numbers.

 

Here are some examples of specific questions/tasks that came up:

 

  • A question which showed a picture of a regular hexagon and a picture of an irregular hexagon and then asked candidates to draw two more different pictures of a hexagon.

 

  • A six mark question which had four squares and two circles and then some information about the colour of each shape and its location; candidates had to label each shape with the correct colour. Eg. green is not a square, red is not next to grey…etc.

 

  • Draw an 8 cm line in a rectangle.

 

  • A question which showed a drawn line and candidates were then asked to measure it and give an answer to the nearest cm.

 

  • A box which contained three numbers, but the fourth number was missing and candidates had to find the number so the total added up to 100.

 

Advice for the Maths section

 

For many schools this year, there seemed to be a strong emphasis on fundamental arithmetic: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, so our advice would be to get your child up to speed with their number bonds and times tables, so they can approach these types of ‘bread and butter’ questions confidently and accurately.

 

One school always has a dedicated maths problems paper, which incorporates two and three step questions, whilst other schools often include these trickier questions within their maths papers as a whole, usually towards the end. These questions tend to be worth higher marks, so it’s essential that your child paces himself or herself so they have enough time to tackle them. This is when a sound working knowledge of the maths basics will come into its own, ensuring that your child is able to work quickly, efficiently and calmly…and hopefully get to the end.

 

However, it’s worth noting that papers are sometimes designed to be very difficult to complete in time. As such, you should remind your child not to worry or get upset if they don’t finish a paper. Rather, they should do the best they can and then focus their attention on the next part of the assessment. Many children gain entry to the top schools without completing all the questions. Mock exams are especially helpful here as they will give your child a good idea of what to expect.

 

Reasoning

 

Reasoning was varied and challenging this year. One school showed candidates a picture of four men and a ladder and asked the children what they felt about each man and to explain which man they would prefer to be and why. Non-verbal Reasoning (NVR) questions included rotation and birds-eye views of shapes, arrow patterns and odd one out.

 

Verbal reasoning (VR) questions included finding letters that completed one word and began another, hidden words, anagrams and cloze passages. Every school will have its own take on VR and how to test it, so be aware that it might not be exactly the same as in practice text books, though the skills being tested will be similar across the board.

 

Advice for the Reasoning section

 

Whilst NVR seems to fall into defined question types that can be easily practised, we have noticed a slight change in VR, which can be tested in multiple ways. Word patterns, missing letters, code words etc still all come up, but sometimes crosswords and word wheels are also included. Cloze passages, as referenced above, (where words are left out and candidates must find the most suitable word to fill the gap from a selection offered) are now featuring in VR sections, providing a combined test of VR, grammar and vocabulary. Therefore, it’s important to mix up your child’s learning, so they are exposed to as many different types of question as possible. If they are able to confidently recognise certain question types, then should they experience one in a different context or unexpected location in a paper, they will be able to take it in their stride.

 

We hope that you have found this article helpful! Please feel free to get in touch here if you have any questions or queries.

 

You can view our full range of 7+ practice materials here.

 

You can view our full range of 8+ practice materials here.

 

You can view our Mock Exam schedule here.

Posted on in 7+

Photo of a pencil on top of a desk

We asked a couple of parents, who recently helped their children through the 7+ examination process, if they would be kind enough to share some of what they learnt along the way. You can read their responses below:

 

“We found Exam Paper Plus from a search on the internet and decided to use the material to prepare our son for his 7 plus exam. First, he had an initial evaluation with Louise Lang in March 2016. She was very professional and polite and at the end she said he had the potential to gain entry at the top academic schools in London, especially if he improves his English writing. Louise recommended a tutor for weekly sessions in English. We extended it to English and Maths sessions in September.  Our son liked the tutor immediately because of her energy, great positive attitude and very dedicated and professional manner. She was always bringing appropriate materials for class work and homework.

 

In addition to the private tuition my son attended all of the Easter, summer and autumn intensive courses for the 7 plus exam as well as all the mock tests in November and December. He always liked the tutors and I was impressed by the materials and great advice. During the mock tests we also met Faisal and Louise again, and their professional feedback and recommendations were extremely beneficial for our son. All of the staff were very helpful throughout the hectic exam period in January with continuing advice and support via emails and phone calls.

 

At the end, after lots of hard work, we were thrilled that he got a place at our first choice school. We can’t thank all the tutors at Exam Paper Plus enough for their profesional attitude and unwavering support. We have been recommending them to all of our friends and we wish them success and prosperity.”

 

“The start is always the most daunting.  The goal and the formidable competition is clear. Everything else is opaque.  Before beginning the process, I could best describe myself as ‘clueless’ about the 7 plus hurdles.  I did feel my son was quite bored at his current prep (very gentle) and that there was a twinkle in his eye when he learnt something new.  It was the desire to preserve that intellectual curiosity that led me to research the 7 plus.

 

In maths we focused on the fundamentals being solid and the numerous interpretation of questions.  Here the Exam Papers Plus exams and materials were invaluable.  My son could solve most problems as long as he understood what the questions were asking for.  For this, a wide variety of exposure to problem solving was required.

 

The English was comparatively easier.  Since he was an avid reader, writing came very naturally to him. He struggled a bit in comprehension, where again the comprehension papers of Exam Papers Plus helped probe further.  We did not restrict ourselves to the 7 plus content of Exam Papers Plus.  Once he was comfortable, he tried some of the material from the higher age groups too.

 

It was a slow and gentle process.  Not crammed.  My son’s love of English was reaffirmed and his ability in maths improved. These are gifts he will take with him to St. Paul’s.

 

The team at Exam Papers Plus was very good at guiding us every step of the way.  Someone like Faisal who has seen this process repeatedly can offer invaluable feedback into your child’s strengths and how they compare relatively to the others.  Finally, the mock exams were very beneficial.  My son made all his mistakes there so he was careful to not make them in the real exams!  In the end he was fortunate to get into St. Paul’s, Westminster Under and King’s.  We chose St Paul’s because it suited his personality the best, although Westminster would have been a much easier commute!

 

Finally, good luck to all of you who are embarking on this journey.  It is not stressful if the focus is on learning and the love of it!”

 

You can see our full range of 7+ materials here.
 
There are also plenty of detailed and helpful articles about the 7+ on our blog so please do take a look.
 
Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or need some advice. We are always happy to help!
 
The Exam Papers Plus Team
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Posted on in 7+, 10+, 11+, 13+

Boy sitting on a sofa playing

This article was written by a parent whose children gained 7+ and 11+ entry to St. Paul’s Juniors (formerly Colet Court) and King’s College Wimbledon. It’s packed with honest and valuable insight into the preparation, examination and interview process, and contains plenty of practical wisdom and advice. If you are planning for your child to sit a competitive entrance exam, this article should prove beneficial.

 

Our family has made it through two fairly onerous Christmas periods preparing for the arduous 7+, 10+ and 11+ exams, and with a measure of sanity intact! I wanted to share our experiences and hopefully help other parents in a similar position.  The positive news is all that time and effort invested is worthwhile; however, it requires commitment and focus from willing participants. I aim to be very detailed in this article as I benefited a lot from hearing about other people’s experiences. Some parts may not be relevant to you, so can be glossed over. However, I hope you will find something in my ‘thesis’ valuable for you and your child if embarking on this journey.

 

With the 7+ (and 8+ exams), I would recommend making a rational judgement as to whether your child is truly ready for the experience. I’ve seen and heard about boys in these age groups panicking, crying, even vomiting before or during these exams. Even more worrying is seeing worked up parents actually pushing kids into examination classrooms; it’s heart-breaking.

 

My older son, Ned, was definitely not ready for either the 7+ or 8+ selection process and as he was at a school that finished at eleven, we felt no rush. On the other hand, my younger son, George, has a very different personality; he is quite mature for his age, confident, pretty resilient and very competitive. He was 100% ready and super keen.

 

7+ Experience

George was at the same school as Ned, where they don’t prepare for the 7+, unlike many other schools, where a significant pool of boys taking these very competitive exams come from, did. George’s teacher was supportive and set him some more advanced work and homework. However, as candidates are required to be at least a year (I’d heard even two years) ahead of the National Curriculum, we decided to find a tutor for George who was experienced in understanding exactly what he needed to learn. She understood the 7+ process across many key schools which was invaluable. We didn’t want to overdo it, but wanted to make him confident and secure in his abilities. So for about nine months George had an hour of tutoring a week during term-time before the 7+ exams. This was definitely helpful. It kept him focused, engaged and provided us with feedback, but I knew as the exam dates started to loom, we needed to do more on the weekends and during the holidays too. I’d heard of children having tutoring several nights during the week for two hour sessions or doing three hours on a Saturday morning in small targeted groups…and some of these kids were at schools that DID prepare for 7+. We didn’t want to do that.

 

There is a plethora of 7+ materials out there, it can be daunting. My saviour was stumbling across the Exam Papers Plus website. They know exactly what these schools’ expectations are and the type of questions that candidates will come up against in maths, literacy and reasoning. Their practice papers are spot on. In the beginning it can be overwhelming as there is a lot of material to work through. I’d recommend commencing the papers around four to six months before D-Day. I didn’t worry about timing him at the start, we worked up to this. Having the answers is also an extra bonus for parents!

 

George did every single EPP 7+ paper available as well as Bond papers at home for extra VR and NVR practice. Maths was his strength, so I focused more on literacy and reasoning. The objective was not to overdo it on weekends and in the school holidays, so I made up a plan of attack based on what I knew he could deal with, ensuring we’d cover off the necessary areas over a reasonable timeframe. George is conscientious, quite disciplined and very competitive, traits that come in handy for 7+ preparation. He was keen to see his marks progress on an upward trajectory and for the most part buckled down when required. He was still a little boy though who had a life outside of this, so I had to be realistic. Some days he just wasn’t in the mood and we’d skip that day. Time was on our side and I didn’t want him to burn-out.

 

The other key aspect behind his success, other than the EPP papers, was the EPP mock exams.

I cannot recommend these highly enough. George did a few other mocks during the year but they were not challenging or relevant enough (for the schools he was going for). The EPP 7+ mock exams were well timed, starting in the latter part of the year. They best simulate the actual exams these schools will dish up on the day, not just in terms of the content, but more importantly, in the disciplined exam environment and timings. Doing an exam for the first time, and at such a young age can be unnerving, so this experience was great preparation. If possible I’d recommend doing as many as there are available. George did three mocks sprinkled between late November and early January. I discovered they book up quickly so you need to get onto it fast to secure a place. Feedback from the mocks is provided very quickly, is detailed and highly valuable. With George’s current school situation I didn’t have a true indication of where he sat amongst the fierce competition, so this was useful as a benchmark.The calibre of children sitting EPP mocks is generally high (these are obviously families in the know), so as the feedback included not only George’s scores but the average and range of the group across each subject, we could build a realistic picture of where he actually sat. The highly personalised feedback pinpointed areas he needed to work on. His scores improved with each mock, which further built his confidence and gave me comfort that we weren’t being delusional. Time and money well spent!

 

George only did two 7+ exams, Kings College School (KCS) and Colet Court (now St Paul’s Juniors). Logistics, perceived fit and a bit of gut feel helped shape these choices. He originally preferred KCS but after a second visit to St. Paul’s Juniors (SPJ) this switched; maybe it was the green space, the close proximity to home and a bit of an instinct for him.

 

When it came to the first step for KCS exam and interview in late October, George was as ready as he could be. We had done some prep at home, all the basics (eg about hobbies, why KCS, his favourite book etc.) They did the interview in pairs, and he was with a boy from Squirrels. George is good at downloading details of interviews, exams and so on to me afterwards. We could never have predicted the type of material they covered. It included a lot of hypothetical questions with no right or wrong answer. A few examples included: 

“Would you rather be born with an elephant trunk or a giraffe’s neck?” 

“From now on would you rather be able to shout or to whisper?”, “Would you rather be three foot tall or eight foot tall”? Not any we prepared for at home! Clearly the boys needed to have a rational response they could back-up, there was no right or wrong answer. He was also shown a picture of a family getting ready to go on holiday and asked questions requiring inference. The favourite book question did come up however, but as a twist, he was asked to describe it using only three adjectives. They asked the boys what their parents did for a living. (Not sure why George mentioned my frequent visits to Starbucks!?)

 

George enjoyed the activity day at KCS in November following the interview. I know there were some cutting exercises using scissors and some maths games. KCS was his first 7+ exam in early January. (This exam now takes place in December). My take-away was they were focused on literacy with a fair amount of inference required. The composition was a picture of a small boy by a railway station with a scooter, on which the boys had to base their story. Through our storywriting prep at home, we had a checklist of what George needed to include eg lots of description, adverbs, use of dialogue, similes, strong endings, mix of short and longer sentences, and NOT to use the ‘s’ word, ie ‘said’. I had made up cards for adjectives, adverbs, alternatives to the word ‘said’, similes, type of punctuation to use. These were gold. George told me he wrote a full page for his story (the boys were told they weren’t allowed to go over a page).

 

One of EPP’s 7+ literacy packs I’d bought provided a whole range of essay topics which was great, as it meant he could write a variety of stories, whilst putting to use everything we’d talked about that needed to go into a story…..back to the cards. Children sometimes regurgitate stories in an exam even if not completely relevant to the topic. I believe variety and creativity is key so they are prepared to answer any question that comes up.

 

George’s experience at St Paul’s Junior was different. There was no activity day and after the exam, interviews were only offered to 80 boys who scored highly enough in the written papers. George found the exam easier than KCS, especially the literacy part, which included a multiple-choice comprehension. The story was also based on a picture, a box. George came out of the SPJ exam absolutely buzzing. A good sign! We received a phone call the next day, a Saturday, to say he had an interview which was exciting. That interview was with four other boys and the Headmaster. He involved them all in the questions. He asked what they liked to do outside of school and if they had seen anything in the news recently that interested them. George jumped at that thanks to my older son mentioning only the day before some news about Tim Peake and his trip to the International Space Station. The group of boys then disappeared for about an hour with two teachers to do some maths and literacy activities. I’m sure their interaction in a group situation was observed. Whilst that went on, parents were either in a meeting with the Headmaster or sitting in the conference room with the other parents and a few older SPJ boys to answer any questions we might have. My meeting (husband was away) with the Headmaster was very casual and I found him and the experience encouraging. Despite having only about 15 minutes with George and the four other boys, he seemed to have him pegged, in a good way. So all in all, it was a positive experience.

 

His hard work and determination paid off. George was offered places at both King’s and St. Paul’s Juniors. We loved both schools but due to logistics, the green space, his preference and our overall gut feel, we chose St. Paul’s Juniors It wasn’t easy giving up a place at KCS, but he could only go to one school. We were and are immensely proud of him and all his efforts!

 

George started SPJ last September and is absolutely thriving. People often have preconceived ideas about the school. It is academic and challenging but in a good way. These boys are there because they have proved themselves and want to be there. I’ve found it a busy but happy environment. I have met a lot of lovely parents and families from all walks of life. Som boys travel quite a distance to be there, even the younger ones. There is so much on offer across a broad spectrum for all boys and this creates a real buzz. The school wants boys to skip into school every day and drag their feet at home time; that’s my son and he loves it! I believe George’s natural curiosity, maturity, confidence and potential helped him secure a place at a school perfect for him.

 

10+ Experience

My older son Ned was a different story. His grades had been improving over the years and he had become a strong mathematician. He’s mature for his age but much quieter than his younger brother and quite self-contained. Ned’s also a very sporty boy, whereas George is much more of an all-rounder. I would say he’s quietly confident and competitive and was ready when he sat the 10+ deferred exam at Hampton School in Year 5. 

He prepared by doing the EPP 10+ papers which were extremely helpful.

 Unfortunately at the time EPP didn’t offer a 10+ mock exam, but he did a few others elsewhere which helped to prepare him for the exam environment. He handled the Hampton exam very calmly and came out of it quite happy. It was a very maths-focused exam. There was no interview at 10+ deferred. Ned was offered a place at Hampton for entry into Yr7 in 2017 and we were all delighted. He was feeling quite confident, but on reflection, maybe a little too content. That exam was in November, his next 10+ exam at KCS was in the following January. He was a bit over the study by this stage, and it was a little tricky to fire him up; and having such a big break between the exams was unfortunate. This period was stressful, as George was also preparing for the 7+ exams and Christmas just sort of came and went. Ned really liked Hampton, especially the sporting aspect, so he wasn’t as disciplined preparing for KCS 10+, he knew he already had a Hampton place in his ‘back-pocket’ and dropped the ball a bit.

 

Ned did the 10+ activity day and exam (a few days apart) at KCS in early January. When he came out of the exam with glazed eyes I knew it wasn’t a good sign. The comprehension proved difficult for him. I wasn’t surprised when he didn’t get an interview and the feedback confirmed his literacy, notably the comprehension, let him down. He hadn’t answered questions worth a significant amount of marks. In hindsight he probably shouldn’t have sat this exam, they only take a small handful of boys. It was a lesson learnt. However looking back it was the best possible outcome for him (more on that later).

 

To this day I believe securing the Hampton 10+ place was one of the best outcomes for Ned, it really built his confidence. His Headteacher was still keen for him to sit other schools and prepare for the 11+ as part of his Yr 6 cohort and we agreed. What else would he do for the next nine months? It was hard to get motivated, as I still felt drained from the 7+/10+ combo and Ned was happy to go to Hampton in Yr 7 and have no more exam prep. However, we wanted to keep him driven and engaged, so agreed he would only do three schools for the 11+: Hampton 11+ for an academic scholarship, (even if he had a bad day his 10+ deferred spot was 100% secure);.St Paul’s Juniors’ 11+, (with George there, the logistics made sense); and he’d try KCS again.

 

11+ Experience – The Finale

Ned’s school obviously did prepare them at 11+ and he had a lot of school homework to do so we needed to be efficient with what we did at home. As literacy was his weaker subject, he needed to put more focus on his stories and comprehension responses. His marks were steadily improving at school, but we also enlisted the help of a tutor, an hour a week during term time, focusing on literacy. The tutor and Ned clicked and I think she really helped strengthen his English. We also worked at home on weekends and in the holidays, around his school workload, on maths, English and reasoning. We probably spent about 55-60% of time on English. I made up a study plan which he stuck to quite well. We made up a checklist for his literacy, more sophisticated than that used for George. It included examples of strong descriptive words, similes, metaphors, juxtaposition, alliteration, onomatopoeia and more. I encouraged him to read a range of books to help further build his vocabulary. I purchased all the relevant EPP 11+ papers, some very challenging but also very relevant. We used past papers from Manchester Grammar and Dulwich College, which are available online. Ned did the two available EPP 11+ mocks, again very challenging and even though his results were not as good as we’d hoped for, it was beneficial to see where he sat amongst the bright group of 11+ candidates. We had to remind ourselves it was all relative.

 

In mid-December Ned attended a full day at KCS to try out for a sports scholarship. He is a very sporty boy, a strong all-rounder, but most skilled in cricket and football. The day consisted of playing many different sports, some he’s not played much of (eg rugby), timed sprints and agility tests. It was his idea of heaven! I was told they also look for future potential. There is no limit to sports scholar awardees, BUT each boy needs to pass the academic exam. There were 73 boys in total. Ned was very keen to do it, and we thought in a very competitive and bright bunch of boys, it might help differentiate him, even if just marginally. The Head of Sport from his current school wrote him a very strong reference, but his performance on the day was all down to him. You do not get told if your son has been put forward unless they pass the test and KCS decides to award him a sports scholarship.

 

Over the Christmas period we made sure Ned had plenty of breaks and fun outings to keep him fresh which worked well. 

When we did 11+ prep I mixed it up between the different subjects and various papers I’d printed off (only a few forests). I kept a record of his scores so I could track his progress. With literacy, I sometimes gave him guidance to keep him on track. The literacy focus paid off as the quality of his work flourished; it was very satisfying for us both.

 

Poor Ned, his exams were very spread out again. He sat the St Paul’s ISEB exam (an online exam) in November, with about 360 boys. He did very well and got through to the next round of about 110 boys for written papers in early February. EPP’s sister company, Pretest Plus, offered two ISEB Pretest practice tests online, these were gold. 

Ned said they were just like the online test SPJ served up on the day.

 

Ned then did the Hampton 11+ exam in very early January. He and his friends commented that the maths was particularly hard and time pressured which wasn’t a surprise, as it’s known for being a school that focuses on maths. They also said the reasoning was a little unusual, they were not specific but did say it wasn’t really like the reasoning they’d done before. The literacy was pretty straightforward.

 

The KCS 11+ exam in mid-January was a much better experience for Ned this time round. I think about 360 boys sat it. Maths was the most challenging, again no surprise, and fortunately the literacy seemed OK. The comprehension was about Tom Sawyer, which he had read the year before, a nice bonus. My husband said he came out with a big smile on his face, no glazed eyes this time. Ned felt positive.

 

Ned was invited to Hampton for a meet and greet/interview with a teacher as part of the 10+ cohort just after the KCS exam. He hadn’t been invited for an interview for an academic scholarship, but they wanted to meet with these 10+ boys again which I thought was a nice touch. It was a fairly casual 20 minute chat, one on one with a teacher which was a good experience for him, as the only other interview he’d done, other than practice at home, was a mock interview at school the previous October. The teacher showed him a few pictures eg Trump outside the Kremlin and he had to discuss. Whilst this was going on, parents were in the Headmaster’s office for a general chat and Q&A session. It was informal and friendly. Ned hadn’t had much contact with Hampton since the 10+ deferred exam (about 14 months prior) other than a taster session he’d attended not long after he received his 10+ offer, so he enjoyed this interaction and it remained his number one choice.

 

The day after this, I was ecstatic to receive a text from Hampton (worse than waiting for the post, as timing can be so random) to say they would like Ned to come in for an interview that coming Saturday, four days away. I rushed out to buy The Week Junior to ensure he was up to date on current affairs, plus we did some practice questions at home as usual. Not always that helpful though as interview content seems to be so varied at 11+.

 

Ned went along to the interview on the Saturday morning calm and composed. The whole process was very well organized. About five boys were taken off by a 6th former to meet with individual teachers for about 20 minutes. Parents sat in the Great Hall where they served tea, coffee, biscuits etc. It all felt very hospitable. We knew our son was meeting with a lady who taught history (we checked on their website as we’d been given her name) but that was it. When he came out later than everyone else, we didn’t know if it was a good or bad sign. He was happy though and thought it had gone well. The teacher had covered off some maths problems with him, he read a passage and she asked him questions about a picture (he had two to choose from). She gently prompted him for more possible answers to her questions about the crazy man swimming in a moat around his house in the rain. I’d been advised this might happen, as interviewers are looking for a candidate’s ability to think logically and rationally on the spot. The teacher also asked him about what he enjoyed doing outside of school, his favourite author and what book he was currently reading. 

I found it encouraging she was interested in him as a person and not only his academic ability.

 I believe they interviewed 120 boys for around 40-44 places.

 

The final piece of the puzzle was the SPJ 11+ exam, round two. I had heard that about 110 boys were invited back to sit this exam and we knew it was going to be tough. There were a lot of determined looking boys and parents milling around. Maths was hard as expected and Faisal from EPP had warned me that the last section of the paper would be extremely difficult (this was simulated in their mock exams) but to give it a go and show all your workings. He was not offered an interview for 11+ but was for 13+ (my husband had also chosen this option). That interview was to be held on the last day of half term.

 

Before the SPJ interview, on the last day of school before half term, Ned received an offer for KCS. We were doubly thrilled as he was also offered a Sports Scholarship, utopia for him. 

We were so proud of him, all his hard work had paid off and we felt he really deserved it.

 

Ned attended his St Paul’s 13+ interview where he did some maths and literacy with a senior teacher whilst we met with the Director of Admissions. Following this, Ned met with the Director of Admissions on his own for a few questions that were also academically focused. That was it. We were informed about a week later that he was on the Reserve List. This meant a few things that did not appeal to us. Firstly, he would need to move to a Prep school for two years, and that he would then need to do more exams in September 2018 to assess if he was able to move onto the Main list. If so, he would sit Common Entrance exams the following year. Despite all the benefits of him going to St Paul’s, there was no way we would put Ned through all that. He was now hell bent on going to KCS, the lure of a sports scholarship was extremely strong. We also felt KCS was the right school for him. He still really liked Hampton, but KCS had a clear edge. Therefore we very happily accepted KCS and he’ll start there as part of the Lower School (Year 7 & 8) in September this year. It means he’ll go straight into their senior school with about 50 other boys, enjoying brand new facilities and being taught by senior school staff. A wonderful result for Ned, we’re very proud of him.

 

With the process done and dusted, it felt a bit odd having spare time on my hands, especially at weekends. Some mums describe it as a bit of a post-exam void and I really get that. However that feeling doesn’t last long – relief quickly takes over! It’s been a long journey but rewarding for us. We’ve made it to the other side. Next Christmas we’ll be far far away, in the sun, with not a practice paper in site!

 

KEY LESSONS LEARNT

  • If your child is ready, academically and emotionally, for 7+ or 8+ go for it, odds are more in your favour.
  • The 10+ is a great option for boys who are ready, it might not result in an offer but the experience is valuable.
  • Make sure the school(s) you aim for are right for your child and family.
  • If your child doesn’t get offered a place at a school one year, it does not mean they won’t be successful at another entry point.
  • Steady progress is key with exam preparation.
  • Make up a realistic plan of attack, include frequent breaks and fun activities to keep them fresh and engaged.
  • Practice papers, practice papers, practice papers…incorporate variety and track results.
  • Mock exams, mock exams, mock exams…invaluable for feedback and benchmarking.
  • Focus on weaker areas, but don’t ignore other subjects.
  • A calm environment means greater productivity and a happier child.
  • Lots of encouragement, stay positive.
  • Keep things in perspective and maintain a sense of humour.
  • Potential bonus – parents may escape feeling that little bit sharper!

 

References and Resources:

 

King’s 7+ Exam

St. Paul’s Juniors (formerly Colet Court) 7+ Exam

7+ Practice Papers

10+ Practice Papers

11+ Practice Papers

Online Pretest Practice Tests

St. Paul’s Juniors (formerly Colet Court) 11+ exam

King’s College School

St. Paul’s Juniors

Hampton School

 

If you have any questions, or need some help and advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

 

Header image: Flickr

Posted on in 7+

One of the most effective ways you can help your child prepare for the 7 Plus English exam is to encourage them to read challenging texts. Reading a range of genres in the run up to the exam can help improve your child’s literacy skills as well as increase their vocabulary.

 

You should try to encourage your child to read outside their comfort zone, and that means picking up books that might be more challenging, or in a different genre from what they’re used to. We’ve complied a non-exhaustive 7 Plus reading list that can help your child prepare for the English exam.

 

This list should be suitable reading for both boys and girls and includes a mix of classic and modern texts.

 

Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl

Fantastic Mr Fox

 

A children’s favourite, Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl tells the story of a fox who lives in an underground home with his family. Every night, he ventures out to the farm to steal food from the owners – Boggis, Bunce and Bean. The plot takes an unexpected turn when the farmers hatch a plan to catch Mr Fox. The book was adapted into a film in 2009.

 

Horrible Histories by Terry Deary and Martin Brown

Horrible Histories

 

Horrible Histories is a series of non-fiction book that we recommend as good 7 Plus reading material. The books focus on the gruesome aspects of historical periods, such as The Terrible Tudors and the Awesome Egyptians. Written in a tongue-in-cheek way, these books entertain and educate while addressing themes such as society, morals and patriotism.

 

How to Train Your Dragon Series by Cressida Cowell

How to Train Your Dragon

 

Set in a fictional world of Vikings, How to Train Your Dragon is a series of twelve children’s books. Based around the experiences of the main character Hiccup, the stories tell of his struggles to become a Hero the Hard the Way. The series has also been made into two films, an animated TV series and several short stories.

 

The Indian in the Cupboard Series by Lynne Reid Banks

The Indian in the Cupboard

 

The Indian in the Cupboard is a fantasy novel with four sequels. The first book tells of a young boy who discovers that one of his Iroquois Indian figurine toys comes to life. The subsequent books in the series revolve around the magic of his bedroom cupboard and the toys that it brings to life.

 

Paddington Series by Michael Bond

Paddington Series

 

This classic children’s series is good reading material for the 7 Plus English exam. These stories tell of the adventures of Paddington Bear, who was found at Paddington railway station in London by the Brown family.

 

The Battle of Bubble and Squeak by Philippa Pearce

Bubble and Squeak

 

The Battle of Bubble and Squeak tells the story of two gerbils that find themselves in the home of the Parker family. The three children, Sid, Amy and Peggy adore the gerbils but their mother doesn’t like them at all. The family end up arguing and battling over the gerbils until an incident involving Bubble and the family cat changes the mother’s perception.

 

The Borrowers by Mary Norton

The Borrowers

 

This children’s fantasy novel is a welcome addition to our 7 Plus reading list. The Borrowers tells the story of a family of tiny people who live under the floorboards of houses and borrow everyday items that they use to survive. There are five Borrowers books in total and a feature film has been made, which may provide additional insights to students.

 

The Butterfly Lion by Michael Morpurgo

The Butterfly Lion

 

The Butterfly Lion tells the story of a boy who meets an old woman called Millie after running away from school. Millie recounts her story of a boy called Bertie who lived in Africa and rescued a lion but had to part with it when he went to boarding school. Bertie vows to find the lion once again and becomes friends with the young Millie in his quest.

 

The Hodgeheg by Dick King-Smith

The Hodge-Heg

 

The Hodgeheg tells the story of Max, a hedgehog who lives across a busy street from a park with lots of attractions for hedgehogs. After his first attempt at crossing the road, Max gets knocked on the head and get his words mixed up. Nevertheless, he carries on with his mission to reach the park.

 

The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark by Jill Tomlinson

The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark

 

A popular children’s book, The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark is about a young owl named Plop who doesn’t like the dark. Each night, Plop learns something new about the dark and gradually he embraces it and finds that he actually enjoys it.

 

Related posts:

11 Plus Reading List for the English Exam

A Reading List for the 8 Plus Exam

 

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Posted on in 7+, 8+

An exam hall

Mock exams are a great way to help your child prepare for the 7 Plus and 8 Plus tests. At 7 or 8 years old, most children won’t have any experience of sitting a test under exam conditions. Not only do mock exams help familiarise your child with the exam structure, but they gain the valuable experience of doing timed papers.

 

Some of the Benefits of 7 Plus and 8 Plus Mock Exams include:

 

Getting Used to the Exam Structure

 

Knowing the material is one thing but being able to put theory into practice is another. Mock exams enable your child to experience first-hand, what it’s like to do an paper under test conditions. Mock examinations are set out in exactly the same way as a real exam, with sample questions, very similar to those that could be asked in the real test. Knowing what to expect from the structure of the exam will give your child an advantage in the lead up to the day.

 

Experiencing Test Conditions

An school exam room

Mock exams can help calm your child’s nerves about the final test

 

Most children have experience of class tests, but for most, the 7 or 8 Plus exam will be their first taste of what it’s like to sit a proper exam outside the classroom. The formal exam environment can take a bit of getting used to that’s why it’s a good idea to have your child experience a mock exam early. Not only do they help calm nerves, but they provide reassurance that the exam isn’t as scary as it sounds.

 

Improved Time Management

 

One of the most valuable skills to be gained from mock exams is time management. Your child will need to get used to answering questions quickly and moving on the next one immediately after. Mock exams can help teach your child to manage their time more effectively, especially if they come up against a challenging question.

 

Learning From Mistakes

Two mobile phones being used as calculators on a desk

Mock tests are the perfect way to improve exam performance

 

7+ and 8+ mock exams are a great way to identify your child’s strengths and weaknesses. If the mock exam didn’t go quite to plan, it’s okay, there’s still time to learn from mistakes and put things right before the big day.

 

A Confidence Boost

 

If your child performs well in a mock test, their confidence will be higher going into the actual exam. Mock tests are a great way to show your child how much they’ve improved from when they first started studying for the test.

 

What to Expect From 7 Plus and 8 Plus Mock Exams?

 

The idea behind a mock exam is to make the test paper and the surroundings as similar to the actual test as possible. The questions that your child will be asked will be very similar to those that could be asked on the day. Similarly, the testing environment will be the same, with other children in the room, in a formal setting. Desks are usually laid out in rows, with spaces in between and an examiner will be present on the day as well. The mock exam will start and end at the exact time it should and children will be expected to complete the test papers within the allocated times.

 

How to Prepare for Mock Exams?

A good night’s sleep before the day of the test keeps your child alert

 

Preparation for mock tests should be the same as how your child is preparing for the actual exam. Hopefully, by the time your child sits a mock exam, they’ll be well into their study schedule and will already have a good grasp of the 7 Plus, or 8 Plus material. Some practical things to consider before the mock exam (as with the real exam), include:

 

  • Ensure your child gets a good night’s sleep the night before
  • Have a healthy breakfast that will provide plenty of energy
  • Make sure that your child has all the materials they will need for the exam
  • Ensure that you know exactly where the exam is being held and what time it starts
  • Try to keep stress levels to a minimum on the morning of the mock test

 

When to Enrol Your Child For 7+ and 8+ Plus Mock Tests

 

Every child will have a different study schedule leading up to the exam, but it’s important that you don’t leave it too late before enrolling your child in a mock test. Mock exams can be very popular, so you should make enquiries early to avoid disappointment.

 

On the other hand, you don’t want to enrol your child for a mock exam before they’re ready. If your child doesn’t perform as well as they had hoped, they could become demotivated in the lead up to the proper exam.

 

At Exam Papers Plus, we recommend that children should take mock tests from October until the Christmas holidays. Doing a mock exam just before they take the real thing can help them focus and get into exam mode.

 

How Many Mock Tests Should My Child Do?

 

How many mock exams your child takes will depend on how much practice your child needs. If you feel that your child is on track, then you may want to enrol them in 1 or 2 mock exams. If, however, your child would benefit from further practice, you may want to enrol them in 3 or 4 mock exams so they enter the real exam with plenty of experience and confidence.

 

Having your child take a couple of mock exams will help you gauge their progress and identify any areas that need to be improved. This will help your revision be more focused and targeted in the final run up.

 

At Exam Papers Plus, we run our own 7 Plus and 8 Plus mock exams in London from October onwards. Be sure to keep your eye on this page for updates. These mock invariably sell out months in advance so we suggest booking early if you are interested.

 

Related post:

A Reading List for the 7 Plus English Exam

 

Image sources:

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Posted on in 7+

7 Plus English and Maths Workbooks

We are delighted to announce that our new range of 7+ English and Maths practice resources are now available for purchase and immediate download. They are designed to supplement our existing Maths and English practice papers by helping children to develop some of the key skills that are required for success at 7+.

We’ve taken on board feedback from countless teachers, tutors and parents and utilised our years of experience to create these practice resources and make them as effective, targeted and useful as possible. We know exactly what’s required to do well at 7 plus exams at the top schools.

 

Many schools test these skills directly at 7 plus whilst others will assess them within broader tasks. Either way, these packs offer plenty of practice to help your child feel confident and secure ahead of their exam and make sure they are familiar with the various question types and content they could face.

 

As with most things in life, a little practice can go a long way!

 

You can learn more about each of these packs by clicking on the red links below:

7+ English: Punctuation  – Click here to find out more and buy

7+ English: SpellingClick here to find out more and buy

7+ English: Vocabulary and Grammar  – Click here to find out more and buy

7+ Mathematics: Mental Arithmetic  – Click here to find out more and buy

7+ Mathematics: Problem SolvingClick here to find out more and buy

 

As ever, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Posted on in 7+, 8+, 11+

Photo of two pupils working at a desk

We have now finalised the dates for our 7+, 8+ and 11+ Mock Exams for 2016. This article will highlight the benefits of our mocks and how they will help your child. Click here to reserve your child’s place now.

 

The word ‘exam’ – whether preceded by the word ‘mock’ or not – can instill fear in both children and parents. Most people do not like to be tested in a formal environment and therefore do not like taking exams – although there are always exceptions! So whilst it is unlikely your child will actively want to take an exam, there are things that you can do to make the whole experience more successful, manageable and bearable. More than anything, mock exams are a great way to learn, consolidate knowledge and refine exam technique before the real thing.

 

The advantages of taking our mocks include:

 

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Posted on in 7+

Photo of a pupil holding a pencil

Once again we have collated feedback from our students who successfully sat 7+ entrance exams this year, so that we can give you essential insights and tips.

 

At Exam Papers Plus we build strong and supportive relationships with children and parents on their 7+ and 8+ educational journey. We’re very grateful to those who share their experiences, so we can pass it on, helping you to understand the requirements, disciplines, knowledge and skills needed as you embark on the year ahead. I won’t repeat advice and exam technique provided in previous articles – you can read it all here – but have lots of snippets to share in terms of this year’s exam content.

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Posted on in 7+, 8+

Screenshot of King's Wimbledon school

This year King’s Wimbledon has changed things around a bit. In previous years, interviews for 7+ and 8+ entry would take place prior to Christmas and then the exams would be held the following January (in the year of entry). Most schools, with the exception of City of London School for Girls, tend to hold their written exams in January.

 

This year however, the King’s written exams are taking place on Saturday 10th December 2016. Interviews are still being held in advance of the exams, in November, and the activity mornings/afternoons will be held on either Thursday 8th or Friday 9th December.

 

For many children, the Christmas holidays are an essential period when extra support is given, knowledge is consolidated and exam technique refined. But knowing about this date change now, is to be forewarned and forearmed. Gradual and consistent preparation for the 7+ and 8+ exams (in fact, for most exams!) makes the most sense as it allows children to build their foundations at their own pace. Our advice is to ensure that you bring in timed exercise and mock exam practice towards the ends of summer, so that your child gets used to exam conditions and working under pressure. In a later post, we will explain why mocks are such a good idea and the benefits to taking them.

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Posted on in 7+, 8+

Photo of an exam date highlighted

This article was written by Faisal Nasim, Director of Exam Papers Plus. It collates feedback from those who sat the 7+ and 8+ exams last year and provides advice on how best to prepare for those sitting the exam this winter.

The article is relevant to anyone considering the 7+ or 8+ for their child, but it is especially relevant for those doing so in London for the following schools:

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Posted on in 7+, 8+

Photo of Classroom

We are pleased to announce that we will be holding our 7+ and 8+ Easter Revision Courses on Thursday 9th and Friday 10th April at the Millbank Academy, Pimlico. (Erasmus Street, SW1P 4HR)

These courses are designed for those taking 7+ and 8+ exams in the following academic year (most likely Jan 2016).

 

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Posted on in 7+, 8+, 10+, 11+

Photo of a teacher in a classroom

Sunday 11th January 2015 – Mock Interview A with George Marsh, former head of Dulwich College Prep School

 

Sunday 18th January 2015 – Mock Interview B with Penny Watkins, former head of Dunhurst (Bedales Prep School)

 

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Posted on in 7+, 8+, 11+

Photo of a girl revising at a desk

 

11+ Course   –   6th December 2014

7+ Course     –  14th December 2014

8+ Course     –  14th December 2014

 

 

As entrance exam specialists, we receive lots of requests for further support – recommendations for tutors, interview technique, advice on specific scholarships etc and we always try to help!

 

Following a number of enquiries, we’re delighted to announce that we’re running our own revision courses for students taking 7+, 8+ and 11+ examinations at competitive London schools in January 2015.

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Posted on in 7+, 8+, 10+, 11+

Screenshot of the Tutors International website

We are delighted to have received an endorsement from one of the world’s most prestigious education companies: Tutors International. They specialise in providing full-time private tutors to clients all around the globe. You can view the article here or read it in full below.

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Posted on in 7+

Photo of a girl reading a notebook

This article by Faisal Nasim, Director of Exam Papers Plus, was originally published by London Pre-Prep (www.londonpreprep.com). We have decided to republish it here on our blog as well. Hopefully you will find it useful and informative. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any queries or questions.

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Posted on in 7+

Screenshot of Kings College Wimbeldon

When creating our exam papers, we draw on many different sources of information. The process includes studying and analysing past exam papers from schools across the country. The majority of these past papers are unavailable to the public. However, over the years, we have managed to get hold of a large number of them. The comprehension below is part of an actual 7+ exam paper set by King’s College School in Wimbledon.  King’s is one of the country’s top schools and entrance at both 7+ and 8+ is extremely competitive.

 

This comprehension formed part of an English exam paper that also tested story-writing and dictation. It will give you some insight into the ability level expected at 7+ by top Prep Schools and will provide good comprehension practice for your child. We recommend that they attempt it under timed conditions. Let us know how they get on or if you have any questions or queries!

 

You can view our full 7 plus range of resources and exam papers here.

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Posted on in 7+

Photo of a notebook and an apple on a desk

Our 7+ exam practice papers offer a number of key benefits and have been successfully used by thousands of students. The papers are updated regularly, cover the full syllabus in all subjects (Maths, English and Reasoning) and offer an accurate reflection of the actual exams that your child will take. Our 7 plus range therefore provides ideal preparation for Prep School assessments for entry into Year 3. Click here to see our full range of 7+ exam papers and practice resources.

 

 7+ (7 plus) Exam Practice Sample Papers Mathematics             7+ (7 plus) Exam Practice Sample Papers English             7+ (7 plus) Exam Practice Sample Papers Reasoning

 

Exam Papers Plus 7+ (7 plus) exam papers have been used to help students gain entry to numerous schools, including:

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Posted on in 7+, 8+, 9+, 10+, 11+, 13+

Screenshot of the Exam Papers Plus website

Welcome! Thank you for visiting our site and taking the time to read this post.  Our intention is for this blog to become an invaluable source of useful information, insight and advice about the ins and outs of 7+, 8+, 9+, 10+, 11+ and 13+ examinations.

 

Here at Exam Papers Plus, we are fortunate to have built up a great network of educators, teachers and assessors with decades of combined experience. This blog will draw on this priceless pool of knowledge and share it with you all!

 

For too long, we believe, the whole examination process has been shrouded in obscurity and ambiguity. Furthermore, the competition for places at top schools has grown considerably over the years. This has made life difficult and stressful for all involved, not least the poor children who have to sit the exams! We intend to change this.

 

We want to empower you by equipping you with a thorough understanding of the requirements of each type of exam and explaining how you can efficiently and successfully prepare your child to grasp their opportunity and flourish under difficult conditions. A little knowledge and preparation can go a long way!

 

Future articles on this blog will include:

 

–       Interviews with assessors and examiners.

–       Interviews with parents who have successfully navigated their way through the whole process.

–       Actual past papers from previous exams at all age levels.

–       Advice about how to motivate your child and deal with stress.

–       Syllabus requirements for all ages and subjects.

–       Advice about dealing with interviews, including past questions.

–       Plenty more helpful hints and tips.

–       Reviews of individual schools and their requirements.

 

We always love to hear from our readers and customers so please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any queries or questions, we are a friendly bunch! Similarly, if you have a suggestion for a blog post or if you would like to contribute an article yourself, let us know and we can work together to make it happen.

 

That’s it for now. Have a cup of tea and relax. You’re in safe hands.

 

The ‘Exam Papers Plus’ team

www.exampapersplus.co.uk