In making assessments of candidates for entry to the school at 11+ our main aim is to ensure that every child we admit has the ability, potential and approach that means they will be able to cope with the level and pace of work here, so we can be confident they will be happy and thrive. Of course, as a school, we provide so much more than just teaching, but academically we cater for pupils roughly in the top quarter of the national ability range.
In the Entrance Assessment we want all pupils to have the best chance to show us what they can do. Therefore we try hard to put them at their ease and to make the day as enjoyable as possible. There are no hidden traps in the assessments! They are designed to be accessible to Year 6 pupils whatever school they come from. Quite rightly, some questions will assess a child’s current level of performance in English and Maths, but others are designed to evaluate reasoning and thinking skills, thus testing potential and aptitude rather than taught knowledge. There may be some hard questions designed to challenge the very brightest applicants, and everyone will find some unfamiliar tasks that are designed to test flexibility of thinking.
Because we want to make offers of places with as much relevant information as possible, we write to all applicants’ primary schools to request a full reference. This is most useful background information and is especially helpful in cases where a child might be particularly anxious on the assessment day.
The Entrance Assessment for external candidates is held on the first Saturday in February. We are very mindful that pupils (and their parents!) are anxious on the day and we are very experienced at trying to put them at ease.
The assessment will commence promptly at 9.00 am and registration of candidates will take place between 8.20 am and 8.40 am in the school Theatre. Children should be collected from the school Theatre between 12.30 pm and 12.45 pm.
Parents are asked to park on the main school site.
There are five main parts to the assessment. The first one is taken using a computer, the final four using pen and paper:
Computer Based Assessment
• Mathematics I, Comprehension, Problem Solving and Thinking Skills
The assessment is supplied for us by the CEM (Centre for Evaluation & Monitoring) at Durham University. They are based on thorough and well-respected research which is referenced against national norms. The Grange (along with all other major independent schools) has been using the CEM centre’s benchmarking and performance data internally for many years.
• Creative Writing
• Mathematics II • Verbal Reasoning
• Personal Questionnaire
The Creative Writing test will involve three discrete tasks, designed to test a candidate’s ease in using words for a variety of purposes.
The Mathematics test will consist of questions similar in style to those in the Key Stage 2 Mathematics SATs papers. Familiarity with the content of the National Curriculum in Mathematics Levels 3-5 will be assumed. Questions will not require any knowledge beyond this, but some may require candidates to use their knowledge in non-standard ways.
The Verbal Reasoning test will be similar to those which are widely available commercially. These tests yield very useful information about pupils’ abilities that may not be evident from their usual classroom work. They can indicate the likely ease with which a pupil will be able to acquire new concepts and understand new ideas across a range of school subjects.
Personal Questionnaire - because we are also interested in the personality and all-round abilities of all our pupils, the final task of the morning will be a somewhat lighter one. All candidates will be asked to complete a brief questionnaire that will delve a little into their interests and what makes them tick. Spelling and grammar will not be assessed, and there are no right and wrong answers!
At mid-morning break, light refreshments will be provided by the School.
Candidates are not required to wear school uniform.
Your son or daughter will need to bring a pencil case, containing a pen, pencil, ruler and rubber. They will not need a calculator. They might also like to bring a book to read, just in case they finish one or two of the tests early.
It is not necessary to undertake extensive preparation for these assessments. They are designed to be accessible to Year 6 pupils preparing for their SATs. The best preparation consists in working hard in their normal schoolwork, although familiarisation with both verbal and non-verbal reasoning tests might be helpful W H Smith stock books of generic examples.
The sample paper for the Creative Writing test can be found by clicking here. It would be helpful to talk it through with your son or daughter and give him/her a chance to try it.
To prepare for the Mathematics test, practice Key Stage 2 SATs papers are readily available online or from W H Smith. The Level 3-5 papers show what is expected in terms of knowledge; some questions may be similar to those on the Level 6 papers in that they may ask your child to use their knowledge in an unusual way, but no content beyond that specified for Level 5 will be tested.
There is no sample paper for the computer-based test, though there is a sample site that will familiarise your child with how the test looks and the types of answers they may be asked to give.
Nonetheless, it would be helpful to talk them through the following points.
1. They do not need any special computer skills or knowledge beyond being able to move a mouse and left-click on objects, and very basic keyboard skills. However there will be plenty of opportunity to ask for help if they are unsure.
2. There will be tasks set that all candidates will be unfamiliar with. This is the same for everyone and they should not worry about it. The idea is to see how well they deal with new things.
3. In the Maths part of the computerised assessment we will be emphasising that pupils need to use pencil and paper to help work out their answers; please reinforce this for us. For difficult questions this means they will need to spend time working out before giving their answer and moving on. However, they cannot come back to questions later so they have to do their best first time.
Further general information about the background to the computer-based assessment (called GetIntu) can be found on the CEM Centre’s website at www.cemcentre.org under CEM Extra then Entrance Tests. The key advice is that there is no specific preparation for these assessments.
Where there are concerns about a pupil’s ability to show his/her cognitive ability because of a known learning difficulty (eg dyslexia) or physical disability (eg broken arm) we can make special arrangements to help, including provision of extra time where possible.
Parents are asked to contact Admissions, to discuss what would be appropriate well in advance of the assessments and to provide an up-to-date Educational Psychologists report.
Results will be posted first class on Friday following the assessment all offers will need to be accepted, at the latest by the first Friday in March. If the offer includes a Bursary award, a reply is needed by the first Thursday in March by 12 noon.