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Archive for November, 2016

How to get first past the post this exam season

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

You’ll know from our last post – Testing times in education – that your child’s school life is full of challenge. And for some of you with teenagers facing mock exams in the next few weeks, it will be all too real.

Of course this year, exams will feel much different than previous ones. At GCSE and A level, your child will be the first generation of students facing the new linear exams – notably in English and Maths. This means a single exam at the end of the course rather than exams with coursework assessment staggered through two years.

‘Performing on the day’ has never been so important!

Elevate your English exam technique

Getting through the post will be much harder for some students than others. In GCSE English Literature, for instance, all exams are closed book ones. Students, then, will need to revise key quotes and information across several texts and poetry to do well.

A useful tip now is to create mini postcards, mind-maps or index cards for each text character, theme and poem. And to revise them over and over. A flashcard system is handy to create since it can be used again for the summer exams – rather than lost in paper files.

Master maths the easy way

Likewise in Maths, getting past the post has higher hurdles than before. With previous higher paper content filtering down into the foundation paper – and the higher paper expanding in difficulty – again there’s more emphasis on students recalling information fast.

That means memorising key mathematical formulae by heart, and practising sample questions time and again to increase confidence.

Failure isn’t a disaster…

Year 11 and 13 students often hit a brick wall this time of year – when mock exam results are a shock to the system. But don’t lose heart. Failing an exam is only true failure if you give up. Instead, see these exams as a dummy run – an opportunity to iron out what to focus on next year.

Above all, work on a system to help you learn in bulk, and to test your knowledge over and over. For extra support in handling these new GCSE and A level exams, call us at 121 Home Tutors.

With some of Manchester and Cheshire’s finest tutors to hand, that post will seem so much easier to whizz past!

Testing times in education

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Testing has always been contentious – notably disagreements surrounding when is the best time to conduct tests and how. Plus whether too much testing takes the joy out of learning.

Tests, by their very nature, determine a child’s progress and ability at any one time. With baseline testing recently scrapped for four to five year olds, it begs the question: are they really important?

Currently, our children experience a mixture of tests through their schools days. On top of teacher assessment, there’s also national tests at KS1 and KS2 – including 11+ entrance exams.

At secondary level, there’s CATs (Cognitive Ability Test) to give a snapshot of a child’s potential and learning difficulties. Plus, of course, national GCSE testing at 16.

Many parents, though, are unaware of MidYIS testing in year 7 or 8. It’s a baseline test to determine aptitude. And is used by many – including most private and independent – schools across Manchester and Cheshire to capture value-added learning data.

Schools use such data to monitor your child’s progress over time. Given that schools also implement Yellis tests at 14, the data is often used to predict GCSE grades.

What is my child tested on?

Interestingly, MidYIS tests often mirror school entrance exams in that they focus on:

  • Vocabulary such as word fluency and understanding
  • Maths spanning logical thinking to manipulating numbers and numerical concepts
  • Non-verbal ability: recognising shapes, matching patterns, spatial awareness
  • Skills, such as proofreading, perceptual speed and accuracy

Can your child prepare for them? Without doubt, your child can practise sharpening their response rate and boost specific skills such as proofreading. In our next blog, we’ll explain exactly how you can help your child do this.

In the meantime, if you need a tutor who can help improve your child’s chances at school, we’re always here for a friendly chat.