Wednesday, 1 August 2018

2019 Selective School and Private School Scholarship Test Preparation

This blog entry will inform members of the Selective Support group on important issues related to the 2019 Selective Test and scholarship tests to take the heavy load away of the internal message board.
 

04 Oct
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I plan to run a mock trial on Sat 13th. This allows parents to see their kids' performance against last year student around the same time and see what selective profiles these past students got in 2018. This is also part of the preparation for early scholarship in Oct-Nov. Many students are not working on the Early Scholarship Tracking plan, do 2 online selective trials and get ready for early scholarship tests.
 
25 Sep
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Some parents have asked me about their kids' results from the PreUni ASAT mock selective test. This test has always been a headache for many parents because they are new to game and have no idea what a mock selective trial in Sep really means. The PreUni ASAT is also a test that is designed to scare parents and hope parents will enrol their kids to do the weekly PreUni trial tests. So, they tweak the test to terrify the parents as much as possible. While, all tutoring places would do this, PreUni is the one that has gone too far in this direction.

There are so many reasons why kids don't do well in this test in Sept. To name a few, here is the list of issues.

- The kids are not ready. They have not done enough work and not at the level of a selective school test because this test is 7 months away from the real selective test.
- A lot of kids who do weekly trials at tutoring colleges have seen the kinds of questions at selective level do they score better and get higher ranking.
- Many students at PreUni are in this test, and they have been given similar questions to the ones in the ASAT test. So, they rank higher than kids who do not attend PreUni weekly trials.
- The test is design to scare parents and get them to enrol kids into PreUni weekly trials. Therefore, ridiculous questions are added to make sure kids don't score well.

If your child has nearly completed the early scholarship plan on Mathemafix with good scores, the story will be completely different. It is likely that your child will be within the top 150 students at this ASAT test. However, the main idea at Mathemafix, is that students work at their own level and try to score over 85% at all times to build the foundation for highest performance in Feb-Mar 2019. They aim to be ready when it's time to do the real things such as scholarship tests and the selective test.

What does it mean if your child got a rank 800th or even worse in PreUni ASAT test? It only means your child is likely to score under 220 in the real selective test. And your child will have a small chance of getting into one of the top 10 selective schools. It's not unusual for kids on Mathemafix who are ranked around 500th in the Sept ASAT to move to top 150 in the Jan ASAT and got a place in one of the top 7 selective schools.

So, if your child gets a poor result from the Sept ASAT, don't be scared and enrol your child in PreUni weekly trials. This is what they want you to do! It's a waste of time and will give more stress to your child. It's better to get on with the early scholarship work plan and sit an early scholarship test to get a more realistic result from Pymble LC or Danebank.

Here is a comment from a parent about the PreUni mock test. Her child got a terrible rank. Later, the kid got 225 in the 2018 selective test (around 40 points higher than what PreUni predicted).


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15 Sep
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It's bit too early to talk about scholarship results. However, Ravenswood moved their scholarship test from Feb of year 6 to Aug of year 5 just for this year for some unknown reason. Congrats to SuperVJ on a full scholarship offer on this very early scholarship test. This is the 1st offer considered as 2019 scholarship season.


It's unfortunate that The Scots College has moved their scholarship test to Feb-Mar 2019, so the boys only Barker College test. But Barker will not provide a report. The girls still have Danebank and Pymble LC tests which will reports. I plan to offer a mock paper trial to help students going to the early scholarships during Oct-Nov. The detail is on page QUICK LINKS: Scholarship-Selective Paper Mock Test on 13th Oct 2018. Please read the document and let me know if you like to take part in it. Use the contact form or email me (mathemafix@gmail.com) to reserve a place.

Students should now be doing the work in the document Early Scholarship Prep Tracking for year 5 Aug-Oct to get the right types of work to get ready for early scholarship tests. 

30 Aug
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There are a few students from WA and Victoria on Mathemafix preparing for gifted & talented tests in their states. A document has been created to summarise information about the G&T Programs Around Australia is now available for download.



Western Australia - Year 6 test for year 7 entry

Open:  October Close:  February Test date: March



Between 2017-2018, a student from WA prepared on Mathemafix over 12 months and score over 240 in WA GATE test, got a place in the 1st ranked school, Perth Modern. She also won a scholarship at a private school. Her ranking on Mathemafix was about the level of students who secure placements into the 5th rank selective school.


Victoria SEAL - Year 6 test for year 7 entry
Open: February Close:  April Test date: May

In 2018, one student prepared for 12 weeks on Mathemafix and sat the SEAL test in Victoria and got placement. It was not a top ranked school. 

It looks like Mathemafix's selective program is quite universal. It helps students to deal with G&T tests across Australia.

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There are a lot of private school scholarship tests coming up for students in Victoria mainly from EduTest and also some from ACER for Sep-Nov.

https://aus.edutest.com.au/
https://www.acer.org/scholarship-parents/victoria/participating-schools


27 Aug
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The Scots College no longer offers early scholarship test. Last year, they still did the test in Nov but they moved the interviews and offers to Feb 2018. They have decided to move the whole thing to Feb 2019.



This means that only Barker college is available to the boys but this school will not give a report. One would only do this test with intention to win it.

Among the mock selective test, the SWAT test (19 August 2018) from Northshore is decent. PreUni ASAT test (Sunday, 9th September 2018) is probably the most popular one with the largest number of participants. However, the profile prediction from this test is very bad and this is especially for students not attending PreUni tutoring classes. Past students often claimed that the PreUni ASAT's content was far away from the real selective tests.

04 Aug
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I found out late about the scholarship at Ravenswood Girls on 18th Aug. This is one is super early and this school used to offer scholarship in Feb for year 6 students. Students who are going to this one should do some of the tests across all series in the  scholarship plan and perhaps the 1st selective trial. It is not a great idea to do something this early (and try to be ready for this early one) then wait for months to get to the main scholarship season in Feb of year 6. It's good as a selective mock trial for experience.

15 July
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We will start early scholarship preparation from 1st Aug.

See 2018 Early Scholarship Tests in Sydney for more details

Use Early Scholarship Prep Tracking for year 5 Aug-Oct for tracking the minimum work for scholarship preparation

See 2017 Early Scholarship to see last year's early scholarship effort and results. 
 

11 July
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Now that the 2018 selective results are out, the focus is on year 5 students heading to early scholarship tests in Sep-Nov. We will start our early scholarship campaign from first week of Aug. It is expected that strong students who are in OC classes will join this campaign. This campaign treats the early scholarship tests as "realistic selective trials". There are very few schools offering early scholarship tests. Some really strong students might try to win a scholarship if but they live close to these schools.

The early scholarship campaign will include

- A Creative Writing Workshop starting at end of July 
- Students will do a number of online tests at year 6-7 level
- Students will complete 2 selective trials.

Parents might like to visit the page about 2017 Early Scholarship to see last year's early scholarship effort and results.


10 July
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The 2018 selective results are out.

The biggest issue that can be seen in 2018 selective test result is that some schools gave really bad marks to students. This caused them to lose between 10-20 points! English school marks are particularly bad. This is especially true for students who have bad spelling, poor sentence structure and virtually unable to make much sense in their writing work. This indicates that reading is not the major component in English according to these year 5 teachers. This means year 5 students must learn from the experience and try to fix the basics in spelling, grammar, sentence structure and expression. These are basic stuff before students even get around to write narrative and persuasive work.

If year 5 students get writing result for NAPLAN in band 5-6, the English marks going into selective test is expected to be bad. Reading should be at the top band (band 8) and writing should at least be at band 7 before students are expected to have good English school marks around 90%.

This makes parents in public schools jealous of those in Catholic schools. Now that Catholic schools don't give marks, whatever students get in the selective test will be all that goes into the selective profile, and this means there is no drag from school marks. For the same test performance, Catholic school students will get the best selective profile.

The 2018 selective results show ...

- Maths is easy like previous 2 years. Strong kids here get near 100% for maths.
- English is hard as usual. Writing is marked very hard so the marks are low. This all adds to better scaling for English.
- GA scores look quite high. The extra set of GA questions on verbal and non-verbal reasoning really helped the students.
- School maths is most unpredictable. A few students are given poor school marks and they hurt the profile. Those from catholic schools without school marks got the full benefit of high test marks without the scaling and ranking penalty which always drag the profiles down.
- Some school marks for English are very bad (vs. students' comprehension ability on Mathemafix and real Eng. test marks). This indicates that these schools used writing marks for English. The SSU recommends that writing must be a part of English mark but it seems these schools use only writing marks for school Eng. marks!
- Cutoff scores at full selective schools look a lot higher than last year. The test could have been a bit easier or there are more applicants at these schools.


2018 selective school results look excellent. The selective test might have been easy as the 1st round cutoffs at many selective schools jumped between 5-9 points. By Dec, they should settle back down but still higher than those of 2017.



16 May
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For students who will do ICAS competitions, just by completing the OC revision with all OC trials and boosters with averages over 85%, they are already set up to do well.

There are extra work students should do for the ICAS competition

ICAS Science Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Students should do:
Mini Science and General Problem Solving Grade 5-6

ICAS Spelling Wednesday, 13 June 2018

ICAS Writing Thursday, 14 June 2018

For spelling, students can just write a lot and spelling will automatically improved. Paste the writing into Word for spelling check will help spelling.

There are several resources for writing

Guides (on page QUICK LINKS)
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Guide for Scholarship and Selective Test Writing (updated May 2017)
Dialogue Technique and Worksheet (updated April 2018)
Narrative Essentials - Cheat Sheet (updated May 2018)
Narrative & Exposition Charts

E-writing modules (in More ...)
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- Read Sumarise Write
- Story Starters
- Writing Planner

- Punctuation

ICAS English Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Students should do

- Revise OC English Boosters
- Do English Comprehension Grade 6

and use the modules

- English Revision
- Reading Library (focus more on non-fiction) 
- Watch BTN, read transcript of texts and write summaries to improve writing and spelling too.

ICAS Mathematics Tuesday, 14 August 2018


- Revise OC Maths Boosters
- Revise the last 5 tests from the series Mathematics Grade5
- Revise Mini Math Challenge Grade 4-5

3 May
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Year 5 students will have to do the NAPLAN test soon. The NAPLAN tests are supposed to be easy. For most students here, the only component that will be a problem is the writing component. There is no way to know if students will be asked to write a narrative or a persuasive task. And this means, students must prepare for both.

The writing component is also very important because it influences the school marks for English. It also reports back to students and parents/teachers how well students write. And often, the message is not very good for most students. They find it hard to get to the top band while it's so easy to get to the top band for other components.

Often students in OC class will have a part of their school marks for the selective test coming from the NAPLAN and a part from the ICAS competitions (maths and English). This means students should try to do well in NAPLAN and ICAS.

To prepare for NAPLAN writing, students should use the Scholarship and Selective test writing guide on page QUICK LINKS. However, this document is big and difficult. Those who just want a quick and easy shortcut can at least download the Narrative & Exposition Charts to make sure they write with correct structure for each text type.

27 Mar
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At this stage, strong students who are in Opportunity Classes (or enrichment classes in strong private schools and public schools in states other than NSW) should complete the OC Revision work ASAP. This means, they should do the OC trials and boosters.

NSW students, who could score about 80%-85% average across the 8 OC trial sets will have a big chance to reach the top 10 selective schools in Sydney. 

After completing the OC revision stage, students can request to be moved to year 6 level to start year 6-7 work. Later, all year 5 students will be moved to year 6 by end of July.

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We are not about 12 months away from the 2019 selective school test. It's a good time to give parents a preview of what will happen. For most parents who have been with Mathemafix for a few months or those whose kids did OC preparation here, it's very clear how this system work. However, new parents whose kids have just joined often think Mathemafix only offers selective trials. This is quite far from the truth.

Mathemafix offers complete preparation for the selective tests and scholarship tests across Australia. We now have more kids from Perth and Melbourne doing their GATE and SEAL selective programs here. We have scholarship winners from other states than NSW. The selective trials are released by a fixed schedule starting around Sep as some students will do early scholarship tests during Oct-Nov of year 5. Most selective school tests will be around middle of Feb to 1st week of May of year 6. The 8 selective trials, while very important, only serve to rank students and predict their performance in scholarship and selective tests. The other works are more important in preparing them for these real tests.

Therefore, it does not make sense to parents who think that kids come on Mathemafix and do whatever they like any and at any time they like. Some hardest series of work (at year 7-8) level are not available to kids at year 5 who are barely capable of doing year 5 work at Mathemafix. They will be opened up to students once they are nearly ready. They could be open up early (on request) to a student once the student shows that s/he is nearly ready. The monitoring, pro-active support and professional advice from Mathemafix prove to make all the difference. We have nearly 100% of kids getting some kind of selective school offer, around 60% go to top 10 selective schools and a big number of private school scholarship winners each year. This does not happen by accident! It happens by design (:

If parents are only after a quick trial of the hard work, they should join Mathemafix between Oct and Jan (school year 5-6). This period is when all the hardest test series are available for students to get ready for scholarship and selective school tests.

Parents should read (all the documents are on page QUICK LINKS)

- SS G&T Program guide
- SS Road map
- User Guide

These documents provide all the pointers to how the program works and what parents could do to support their kids at home.

The survey of students doing the NSW 2018 selective test gives a good idea how effective Mathemafix is.







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. 


12 Oct
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I see clearly that students in a school hosting OC class has the advantage even though the competition is strong. But this advantage is mainly enjoyed by the top 3-5 students. So, the idea that a top kid at a weak school is favoured is now wrong because too many kids apply for OC from any school. The top kid at a weak school is still penalised to a milder degree as s/he cannot escape the drag of the whole weak cohort. The only way to avoid this is only the top is allowed to sit the OC test. And this is impossible.

It's still good to be in a strong school no matter what by the look of it. This is now true even if your kid is only at the average of all applicants. The same is true for selective test and this is why OC class is always better. Or better still, go to a strong Private or Catholic school that does not give school marks.

Some data received so far



06 Oct
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The 2018 OC results will come out in just over a week. It's an exciting time. The results will be pretty much like those from 2017 OC test. The students of 2018 seem to perform slightly better than those in 2017.

It's important for parents in NW Sydney to understand that it's very hard to get into OC classes such as North Rocks, Beecroft and Ermington because students need about 245 to be sure of an offer. It's important to secure a place in the local school's enrichment class if your child cannot get a placement. 

School marks can be a big factor to decide the OC profile. Some schools give poor school marks to students. Some have unfair or no standard at all in how they give the marks. This is why it is now an advantage for students in Catholic schools as most do not give school marks. It can be a difficult choice for parents to take OC offer (even if it is a bit far from home) or stay back or move to a Catholic schools.

Now is the time for the kids to come back to Mathemafix to join the 2020 Selective group. Strong students would revise the OC program at slow pace, redo OC trials and complete all year 5 work and move on to year 6-7 work around Feb-Mar 2019. Those who have not done much may need to revise the OC program from a lower level and finish the revision around May-Jun 2019. It's important to have a strong foundation by completing the OC program with good scores to support high performance in the Selective program.

05 Aug
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Year 4 parents, a document called "2018-2019 Early Scholarship tests in Sydney for year 4" has been uploaded to page QUICK LINKS. The idea is that year 4 students who are high performers with OC trial average at 75% or better can try a scholarship test very early for experience and get a report on performance. Students can do it as early as Oct-Nov 2018 or later in Feb-Mar 2019. The experience can help them to do well in their real scholarship tests at late year 5 and early 6.

04 Aug
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Some students who joined very late and did not do a lot of work would benefit a lot from coming back after a short break to do the OC program properly. This will makes it so much easier later when they prepare for the selective test as the OC program provides the foundation necessary to step up to year 6-7 level of the selective prep program. Generally, students who have done less than 300 tests in the OC program or those who did not score over 70% in OC trials will benefit from this.

02 Aug
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Some students have done the survey. It looks like the OC test is similar to last year's OC test where maths is easy again 4 years in a row. English is hard and GA is not too hard. What this means is the competition shifts a bit more in favour of English than before. Maths is easy so many kids will get high marks for it. School marks will become more important and it was so obvious last year where very high school maths can help a lot.


As school marks are becoming unstable and unreliable (unfair) at some public schools, those who fail to get into OC class might consider Catholic schools to avoid school marks. This automatically uses only test marks for selective test and that's a lot better (assuming the students is not sick on the day of the test).

Students in NW Sydney will really suffer as the OC cutoffs are too high there. It's very hard to gain entry into one of these schools due to too much competition. As many of the schools there have enrichment class for those who have achieved OC placement but decide not to go, it is important to put a low OC class that one has no intention take the offer. This will guarantee a place in the current school's enrichment class for year 5-6.



The individual feedbacks from students are actually very diverse. The high performers tend to give positive feedback. The weaker performers give more negative feedback. Those who have not done much work at all (except doing the trials) tend to give very unreliable feedback as they don't know about all other stuff they did not get to do. However, the average weighting of all feedback is on the positive side. This is good.

Students report high confidence. It's like 2017 again. We can expect a good set of results from this group of students.

01 Aug
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Congrats on finishing the OC test. This is a huge effort from both kids and parents. Please do the survey ASAP before you forget the content of the OC test. The link to the survey form is at the bottom right hand side when you log on.

Now is the time to take a long break to enjoy leisure activities. The OC result will be out early Oct, and we will get together for a celebration. There is no doube we will get a lot of fabulous results even better than last year's. If parents need any advice on OC class choices, please make contact. The last date for changing OC choices is 10 Aug.

https://education.nsw.gov.au/public-schools/selective-high-schools-and-opportunity-classes/general-information#Key0

The top 10 kids on trila averages might like to try early scholarship tests along side with year 5 students who are preparing for the 2019 selective test. Please read info about this on the page below.

http://mathemafix-users.blogspot.com/2018/03/ 


30 Jul
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It's now time to REST! Don't do any more. Students must rest completely and don't do anything risky to get hurt or sick before the OC test day.
On the afternoon of OC test day (1st Aug), please log on and do the OC test survey to help future students.

Trial results for those who have done at least 7 trial sets. 


Parents should consider to get their kids back to Mathemafix (after a break) to prepare for the 2019 selective test. In the past, there were year 4 students who did well in OC test but did not come back. Their parents worried that the selective test was too serious to do online preparation. But every year, the selective test results showed that those who prepared OC here and came back to do selective preparation did even better. Some students who only got OC profiles around 210-220 managed pushed deep into 240+.

http://mathemafix-users.blogspot.com/2017/12/2018-selective-school-and-private.html

It is much appreciated if parents help introduce Mathemafix to other parents with year 5 kids preparing for 2019 selective test. At least, Mathemafix can help them as a strong work and trial platform in case they continue with class tutoring.

28 July
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We are practically at the end of 2018 OC preparation. The message right now is REST! It's hard to resist the temptation of asking kids to work until the day before OC test. However, past experience shows that only REST is the best strategy. This means students who have not completed all 8 trials must complete them ASAP by Sunday then stop everything.

Looking at the picture of 2017 OC trial ranking and OC profiles, there are a few observations.

- Almost 100% of the students will get OC placement if low OC classes are picked by bottom students. The benefit of OC placement into any OC class is that the current school has to offer a place in its enrichment class if it has an enrichment class.
- Students who score around 70% on trials are expected to do well and OC placement is pretty sure unless parents pick high OC classes. As school marks can play a tricky role and a few students will get OC profile pulled down a lot by poor school marks. So, parents will need to be conservative with the second OC class choice.
- It is safe for students with OC trial average around 70% or better to take a long break after OC test until Jan 2019 and still have a good chance competing for a place in the top 7 selective schools.
- Lower performers, especially those who joined Mathemafix late and did not manage to finish at least 2/3 of the OC program, would benefit from taking a shorter break and come back to do the OC program properly. This will help them have a good chance competing for top 7 selective schools.

2017 Trial Ranking and OC profile


2017 OC raw marks and OC profiles

OC class choices can be tricky too. Some parents reported low school marks that took 10-25 points off their kids' selective profiles in 2018 selective test. The "suspicious" schools are Matthew Pearce, Chatswood PS, Newbridge Heights, Pensurst and Smithfield. In some schools, all students in one class seemed to get low school marks. In some schools, some students got unusually low school marks. These schools do not publish how they give marks so parents are in the dark.

25 July
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Here is the trial result ranking for those who have completed at least 7 sets of OC trials. The results are compared against last year's students and their OC profiles.




20 July
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We are now in the last 10 days of OC preparation. Most students have done up to 7 trials and only one more to be completed. It is now time to complete all trials and revise a little before students should rest completely a few days before the OC test. It is also the time to be extremely cautious about changes in weather and eating safe foods. This is to avoid getting sick just before the OC test. Students should avoid getting exposed to bad weather (on sports day) and eating unsafe foods.

While it is so hard to get into OC classes at some areas of Sydney, over 70% of students on Mathemafix will get enough to enter some OC classes in Sydney. Even if they do not get into the local OC classes, parents should pick a low OC class as second choice. This will make the current school offer a place in its enrichment class for year 5-6 if it has one to offer. It gets complicated further about school choice for year 5. This is because some public schools give unreliable school marks for the selective test. Also school marks almost always pull the selective test profile down. This is why Catholic school students now enjoy better selective test profiles as Catholic schools do not give school marks. What this means is that students who fail to get an OC place (or a place in an enrichment class) might be better off going to Catholic schools for year 5.

11 July
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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
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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 
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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
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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
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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

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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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