What you need to know about the new 7+ entrance exams

7+ entrance exams are becoming a school admissions route for more and more families, particularly those applying for academically selective independent schools incorporating a senior school. Once in the school, children may still be examined at 11+ and will need to meet the school’s required standards, but they often have a more straightforward transition into the senior school than those applying from outside. This new approach from parents has been prompted by competition for selective senior school places which continues to intensify and has also led to competition at 7+ becoming increasingly fierce.

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How to tell if the 7+ is right for your child

As with the 11+, you should have your child academically assessed before sending them on this journey. Children should not be intensively tutored to get into a school for which they lack the innate aptitude to succeed. If their academic potential doesn’t match up to the school’s future expectations, then we would advise against it, as you might be setting them up to fail in the long run, even if they can be prepared well enough to secure a place there.

How schools assess at 7+

Spelling, dictation and mental arithmetic may be assessed verbally, but most of the English and maths content will be in a written exam. Group exercises are also sometimes used to evaluate a child’s ability to follow direction and work well with others. More schools are starting to include verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning tests; a lot of children enjoy these as puzzles and challenges, but they can also be daunting and should certainly be practised.

The written maths exam may include questions on any part of the Year 2 syllabus and sometimes questions will be pitched beyond that level, including quite complex word problems. The written papers for English usually focus on comprehension and story writing. The expectation is for above average vocabulary and reading level; good handwriting should also be practised as it is a real asset. Candidates need to demonstrate the ability to structure answers and write stories to meet the specific questions and topics set on the day.

7+ interviews

Some schools may interview every candidate on the day of the exams, but most will call back for interview those children with the best exam results. Interviews usually comprise a one-to-one conversation with the head teacher about their hobbies, homes and so on, to reveal the child’s social skills, confidence and focus. You can practise discussing these topics with your child, but beware of over-prepared answers which will sound rather than conversational.

How to prepare for the 7+

Obviously, the children are very young, but these entrance assessments still require preparation. Your child needs to understand what they will face and how to do well, so some gentle, knowledgeable tutoring can be the most effective tool. It’s unfair to send a child into this unprepared, as they will be at a real disadvantage and might find it a demoralising, even traumatic experience.

It’s a good idea for them to write practice papers under timed conditions, as this will be new to this age group. Practice helps them get used to the added pressure and the need to plan out their allocated time.

What schools are looking for?

Being so much younger and less established in academic life than those tested at 11+, children aged six and seven will often lack academic rigour and focus. Schools will therefore place value on the social skills demonstrated in interview and group tasks, and on creative, verbal and listening skills, but relative academic performance in the exams will remain their main measure for selection. This is why it is important to be sure your child has the academic potential to thrive in such an academically competitive environment, by having them assessed before embarking on this journey.

Lorrae Jaderberg is Joint Managing Director educational consultancy JK Educate www.jkeducate.co.uk  

 For further information on the 7+ please see  http://www.jkeducate.co.uk/the-7/

 

Lorrae Jaderberg is Joint Managing Director of educational consultancy and tutoring company JK Educate

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