The world of school entrance exams can be extremely daunting, especially for first time parents. In order to relieve some of the anxiety, we have created a list of essentials that will leave you feeling much more in the know!
1. The 7+ exam varies hugely from school to school
Make sure you carefully research each school that you have registered for, as very often the layout of the 7+ exam will be entirely different to another school. All schools assess children’s abilities in English and Maths, but some schools will also administer verbal and non-verbal reasoning tests, or spelling and punctuation tests.
2. Social skills are just as highly regarded as academic skills
It may be hard to believe due to the academic rigour of the schools, but it is very common for children to be turned down due to their lack of social skills, even though they achieved top marks in the written assessments. Teamwork, listening skills and respect towards teachers all are ‘must haves’!
3. There is such a thing as being over prepared!
If your child has successfully passed the written assessments, they will be invited to the school for an interview. They may be asked to bring along a special item from home, to talk about their hobbies or read from their favourite novel. A memorised, perfectly rehearsed answer is unsurprisingly not what schools are looking for. In fact, when asked to discuss their favourite aspect of the school, the answer “school dinners” is much more favourable than a long list of notable alumni!
4. The exams are academically rigorous
With at times over 500 children vying for a mere 20 places, it is no shock that the written exams are becoming exceedingly challenging. As the content of the exam covers the entirety of the Year 2 curriculum, be prepared for your child to be assessed on units that they may not cover until the next school term.
5. A tutor is not essential
Recruiting the specialist skills of a tutor to boost your child’s knowledge and skill set before the big day is entirely acceptable, but too much tuition will result in an over-tired child who may not feel relaxed enough to perform well on the day. Schools themselves will explicitly say that tuition is not necessary for children to be successful – showing potential is the key.
6. Second chances do exist!
The big day has finally arrived, but your child has a touch (or a great big dollop!) of stage fright. Don’t panic. It is not uncommon for children to be unable to sit the exam on their first attempt due to the fact that they are in new and unfamiliar surroundings. Take comfort in the knowledge that it’s also not uncommon for schools to reschedule exam dates for children or to allow parents to sit in the room with their child as they complete the exam.
7. Please don’t be downhearted if your child isn’t successful
The competitive nature of the exam means that unfortunately, the majority of children are unsuccessful. However, it’s so important to remember that every candidate who has been accepted to even sit the exam is clearly progressing well in their studies. 7+ candidates are already considered to be the cream of the crop in their year group, so exam failure at this stage will not have an effect on their educational success. Candidates can try again at 8+ or may wish to wait until 11+ or 13+ when they may have matured, ready to try again for exam success.