Sunday, 29 April 2018

2018 OC preparation

This blog will take the load off the Mathemafix message board by hosting important information about 2018 OC preparation. 


11 July
---
We are entering the last few weeks of OC preparation. Parents should download the sample test for OC and get students to do it to become familiar with the format of the test and the answer sheet. They should practise how to mark the answers and how to time the test so that they will guess the left over questions around 1 minute before the end of each part. Parents should use a stop-watch to monitor and help them time on their own as the supervisor in the exam hall will not warn them when the time is about to run out.

https://education.nsw.gov.au/public-schools/selective-high-schools-and-opportunity-classes/year-5/the-test#tabs289960


10 June
---
Some students have done 4-5 OC trials while late comers are still doing 1st and 2nd OC trials. Here is a the ranking against last year students (only on the 1st 4 trials) for those who have done at least 3 trials. When the average of OC trials is around 70% or better, there is a high chance of OC placement. Also, those who have trial averages around 75% have a small chance of matching those with OC trial averages over 80% in real OC profile.




04 June 
---
Late comers now have only 8 weeks to prepare for OC test. This means the first OC trial should be done by now and one OC trial is complete each week along with a lot of work at year 5 level. 

It is expected the ranking on the leaders' board will change a lot as kids throw their effort into the last few weeks. A lot of "dark horses" will rise quickly to the top as they delay trials to wait until they are readier to do them.

As the cold/flu season sets in, a lot of kids get sick. It's a bad idea to send kids to school when they are not well, the kids may get sick for a whole week and feel too tired to work at home. And that means losing a whole week of work! It is also useful to watch for signs of cold/flu 1 week before the OC test. If there are signs, it's better to let your kid stay home to avoid a full blown cold/flu as this would certain kill all the chances of getting OC placement. The appeal process won't help these days when it is so competitive.

18 May
---
The OC application closes today. This means schools will get to know who apply for the OC test at the earliest on 21st May. Some schools would already have sent notes out to parents to poll for intention to apply for OC test. This allows them to see how many would apply and get prepared to collect marks for OC application.

It's probably the best thing students could do is to behave well for 4-5 weeks and get all work given by teachers done. Often the work can be very easy and boring but they do involve writing for English. It's also easy to get silly mistakes for boring maths too ... And it's not just the mark but the ranking is what matters more. A lot of kids get marked down for silly mistakes and poor writing.

Every year, some students here get very poor school marks even though they scored very well in the OC test. These students are bored at school so they don't put effort in getting work done. As the result, poor school marks and ranking pulled them down as much as 7-10 points. Knowing that OC classes in some areas are so competitive, losing 1-2 points could be failing to get placement.

29 April
---
Key dates for NSW OC Class application


 1 May 2018
Application opens online
18 May 2018
Application closes (no late applications)
18 July 2018
Parents are sent Test Authority advice
1 August 2018
Opportunity class placement test for entry in 2019

When parents fill the online OC application form, just put the OC class choices as the closest OC classes. There is no way to predict OC profile until students have done most of the 8 OC trials. Therefore, the choices will have to be adjusted later right after the OC test.

It takes about 3-4 weeks for schools to gather and send school marks to the SSU. That means schools will collect marks until around end of May. Past experience shows that marks from schools don't really reflect the students' real performance. This could be because gifted students are bored in class and they don't necessarily want to do the boring class work. Teachers may not have any idea about a student's high performance because the student is never tested on anything other than the easy stuff everyone gets. It could also be because that teachers can pick any kind of work they like. For English in particular, the marks may come mainly from writing work. Therefore, it is recommended that students should behave well and do whatever work given in class properly, at least until end of May. So, we need to have 4 weeks of best behaviour to ensure school marks are not "really unfair" for some of the gifted but very bored students.

It is also important to note that by 1st Aug, most ICAS competitions are over. What this means is that any preparation for ICAS English, ICAS Writing, ICAS Spelling and ICAS Mathematics are useful for the OC test (and the preparation for OC test is useful for ICAS competitions). However, writing is useful for good school English marks and ICAS Writing. So, it's a good idea that students work on writing as well.

A lot of students are a bit late in OC prep so it makes sense not to start OC trials until the 8th week before the OC test. All year 4 work should be completed and some of the year 5 work should be done before the 1st OC trial. Students should do each set of OC trials within 80-90 minutes to experience real exam pressure. It's a bad idea to do each set over several days like doing an exercise.

The SSU has banned the use of pencils and erasers. They have gone to extra trouble of handing out their own pens! So, students must learn to be neat and efficient with the use of working out space. There will be no more than 1 sheet of working out paper in each test. It's time to get used to this limit.



6 Apr

---
Public primary schools are now experimenting with "open learning" where students spend time in small groups exploring ideas (and often get no where). Enrichment for gifted kids is now almost non-existent in most schools or scaled down to just a small group or one class if kids are lucky to be in a school that still offers enrichment. And often a school that really offers any enrichment is also a school that already hosts an OC class. 

OC entry is getting a lot more competitive in the NW and Inner West of Sydney. Kids will need to score well on year 4-5 and year 5 series to do well.

https://education.nsw.gov.au/media/schools-operation/minimumscoresforopportunityclassentryfor2017.pdf


Now is the time to make a big effort.

1/ Have a weekly reading program that covers both fiction and non-fiction. Books can be picked from the Reading Library or local libraries or using a Kindle.
2/ Keep a diary of new words, look up their meaning and write down them down during revision of all failed questions.
3/ If a Kindle is used for reading, it's really easy to look up the meaning of a word by pressing on the word for a a couple of seconds.
4/ Watch BTN then read the transcript. Then write a short summary of the news video down and get parents to read and comment.
5/ Go to the Punctuation module and watch the videos about sentence structure and how to write good sentences. This is is great for getting better school marks for English.
6/ Use the English Revision module to read texts once more and check the questions again if students struggle to get over 85% for English comprehension tests.
7/ Download WordWeb Free and use it to check meaning of words by simply holding down the CTRL key and right-click on any word on the browser. This is really good during review of failed questions or using English Revision module. Don't use this to technically "cheat" during taking a test.


23 Mar
---
Revisiting the results for 2017 OC test. This is the picture that year 4 students are expected to achieve or exceed the performance.


This is the survey done after the 2017 OC test


12 Feb
---
Some top students are going too fast. They have started year 5 work. Others are slow and still doing early year 4 work. Experience shows that it's not all good to be working to fast. It's important to go slow to let the knowledge sinks deeper.

On 1st April, the first OC trial set will open. Students will have the first taste of how hard OC trials are. At this point, the top student should start year 5 work. Therefore, those who are already on year 5 work, are ahead. It's go to slow down a bit and spend more time on the learning modules and general reading. Take time to learn and apply the strategies for maths in the Maths Problem Solving Strategies Year 4-5, complete the Year 5 Maths Revision set on page QUICK LINKS and read a lot of books in the Reading Library. The learning activities will be more useful as they beef up the students and make sure they can score consistently well.

 
07 Feb
---


We are now at the beginning of year 4. But schools have no idea who will apply for OC test. Therefore, when the OC application closes on 18 May 2018, schools will know. At this point they will start collecting marks for the students retrospectively back to Feb! They can collect any kind of marks they like to for maths and English. What this means is that students must start doing the school well from now on. The typical problem for many students here is that they are very advanced. They find school work boring so they don't care. As the result they don't care to complete the work or they make many silly mistakes. Only the careful students who care to get good marks would actually get the good marks. So, this is a behaviour problem that parents must advise students (especially boys) to be aware of. It's no good to be too smart and arrogant then make silly mistakes on easy work!

Another problem is writing marks. A lot of the work at school will be in writing than reading. And if students don't pay attention, they don't know what to write about. It's common that a lot of smart students in public and Catholic schools write very poorly. Often the elite private schools' students write better (and read better too). This is why parents need to make sure students write with decent spelling, neat hand writing and the sentences are complete (and make sense). The writing marks will influence the bulk of English marks given by schools.

So the message to parents is to ask students to pay attention to school work between Feb-May and try to avoid mistakes in their school works. Participate in activities and write well. It has been known in the past that some most brilliant students who don't get along well with teachers got poor school marks for OC application. But school marks must be written down on students' works. Therefore, teachers cannot just give fake marks. It's more likely that smart students are careless or even refuse to do the school marks or participate in class lessons. So, it's often the behaviour of students that cause this problem.


15 Jan
---
Really strong students are now at the verge of complete year 4 work and enter year 5 work even though they have not started year 4.  The year 4 work on Mathemafix is like year 5 (and even harder) at school. This year we will strive to have better performance than last year where many students did so well.

At this stage, all students should have completed year 4 school maths and  moved on to year 5 school maths (with the Maths Lessons guide). The Maths Problem Solving Strategies Year 4-5 guide is now important. Students should also completed English Reading Skills Grade 4 and nearly complete English Comprehension Grade 4.




13 Dec
---
From Jan 2018, preparation for OC test will hot up. Parents can see from 2017 OC results (and earlier years) that the school marks have a big impact.

http://mathemafix-users.blogspot.com.au/2017/09/2017-nsw-oc-results.html

Some students have great OC test marks but their school marks could give a big negative impact. Please read the blog about 2017 OC result above for details.

To avoid this trouble, students should write well at school. They should make an effort to do all English work at school well. Most of the time, students can be good in reading but they don't put effort into writing, listening, speech at school. And this means low school marks for English. In maths, most students find the school marks too easy. They become bored so they make silly mistakes or even refuse to complete the maths work. And this can become a big problem too.

So the message here is to make an effort between Feb-Jun 2018 at school to get decent school marks. 

Soon, top students at end of year 3 will make their move on the following advanced series and get ready for OC trials. 

Math Problem Solving Grade 4-5
Mini Math Challenge Grade 4-5
English Reading Skills Grade 5

English Comprehension Grade 5
Mathematics Booster Grade 5 (14 tests)
Mathematics Grade 5 (12 tests)


However, the average students should not jump to this level without working hard on year 4 level to build the foundation first. It is OK to keep working hard on year 4 level and start year 5 level around April alongside the first couple of OC trials.
 

29 Nov
---
At this stage (end of year 3), strong students should already be at end of year 5 in terms of reading and maths while their writing can be at any level of year 3-4. 

It is important to check their maths to see that students are at least at end of year 4 school maths. This is the required minimum level to do well in the year 3 maths on Mathemafix.  Year 5 school maths is the minimum required level to do well in Mathemafix year 4 maths.

Two big set of printable tests have been created for parents to check students.


  • Maths Revision Year 4
  • Maths Revision Year 5

Parents will have to do the marking if these printable documents are used. Alternatively, parents can get the students to get on the module Maths Lessons and go to the Weekly Revision section to do the tests (or just put in the answers the kids write on these printable tests) to get the computer to do the marking.

It is highly recommended to use Maths Revision Year 4 to check first. For really strong students who have completed year 4 maths on Mathemafix and are starting year 5 maths, Maths Revision Year5 is recommended.

25 Nov
---

Do NOT ignore school work!

A common mistake made by parents is to ignore the importance of school work and put too much emphasis on tutoring or other work at home. This is because school marks can take up 50% of English and maths in the OC application. As the teachers don't know if a student applies for OC or not until the application is about to be finalised, marks given to OC application will be pulled out randomly from past assessments from Feb-Jun. They could come from any kind of marks and often heavy in writing work. They could come from the boring easy work for maths that smart kids hate so they ignore and get lots of silly mistakes or even not completed.

So, kids must be serious and do their work between Feb-Jul to get highest possible marks. Then they can be as lazy as they like after Jul 😄


Which OC classes to pick?

The first choice is easy as parents would want an OC class close to home or close to work to make it easy for travel. However, the second choice is the most difficult to make.

For kids who have no hope for a placement in any school convenient for parents, the second choice should be an OC class that is as low as possible and not ridiculously far from home so that there is no way you would take up the offer. This will convince your current school to offer a spot into its enrichment class if there is one. This offer will be free of school politics because parents who help the school a lot may try to do back door politics to get their own kids into the school's enrichment class!

If your school has an enrichment class, the school will have to allocate the spots with priority to those who have achieved an OC placement somewhere (or on reserve for OC class) when parents do not want their kids to leave the school.

The big mistake parents often make is picking OC classes with very high cutoff scores against professional advice from Mathemafix and miss out on all choices. This is a big problem for parents living in North, NW and inner West of Sydney where the cutoff scores are ridiculously high due to the insane level of competition today. They then also miss out on the enrichment class within their current school.

For those in Sydney, the schools with lowest OC cutoff scores have been highlighted in the table below.



Opportunity class
Minimum entry at 17/03/2017
Beecroft Public School
245
North Rocks Public School
242
Ermington Public School
236
Matthew Pearce Public School
234
Summer Hill Public School
233
Artarmon Public School
229
St Johns Park Public School
228
Chatswood Public School
227
Woollahra Public School
227
Waitara Public School
226
Dural Public School
225
Greystanes Public School
224
Holsworthy Public School
224
Hurstville Public School
224
Balgowlah Heights Public School
223
Ryde Public School
223
Earlwood Public School
222
Neutral Bay Public School
222
Ironbark Ridge Public School
220
Ashfield Public School
217
Georges Hall Public School
217
Quakers Hill Public School
217
Harrington Street Public School
214
Mona Vale Public School
214
Picnic Point Public School
214
Sutherland Public School
213
Wollongong Public School
213
Alexandria Park Community School
212
Caringbah North Public School
211
Greenacre Public School
209
Wilkins Public School
208
Balmain Public School
207
Casula Public School
207
Leumeah Public School
206
Newbridge Heights Public School
206
Blacktown South Public School
204
Blaxcell Street Public School
204
Gosford Public School
200
Smithfield Public School
200
New Lambton South Public School
194
Jewells Primary School
192
St Andrews Public School
190
Colyton Public School
189
Camden South Public School
187
Kingswood Public School
183
Soldiers Point Public School
183
Wentworth Falls Public School
182
Blaxland East Public School
180
Tighes Hill Public School
178
Maryland Public School
177
Bradbury Public School
176
Tamworth Public School
176
Wyong Public School
175
Goulburn West Public School
174
Sturt Public School
173
Alstonville Public School
170
Biraban Public School
168
Queanbeyan South Public School
167
Armidale City Public School
165
Rutherford Public School
165
Port Macquarie Public School
164
Dubbo West Public School
162
Goonellabah Public School
162
Lithgow Public School
162
Moree Public School
162
South Grafton Public School
162
Toormina Public School
162
Cessnock West Public School
161
Richmond Public School
161
Bathurst West Public School
160
Coonabarabran Public School
160
Tahmoor Public School
160
Tamworth South Public School
160
Cudgegong Valley Public School
159
Illaroo Road Public School
158

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