Tuesday, 9 April 2019

2020 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 2020 Selective Test and scholarship tests to take the heavy load away of the internal message board.

11 Aug
By now, most students have moved on to year 6-7 work and the top performers are preparing for early scholarship tests. However, there are weaker students who are still struggling with OC revision and year 5 work. A question in the mind of parents is whether to drop the year 5 work and move on to year 6-7 work even though the scores look very poor. The answer is that students should continue to work on year 5 work and spend plenty of time to build the foundation by doing a lot of reading, complete year 6 school maths lessons and do spelling/vocab ... The year 6-7 work can wait until 3 months before the selective test. There is no point doing what they are not ready for to get more frustration and no benefit. Students who are still doing year 5 and OC revision around Aug would only achieve between 195-210 in the selective test.

08 July
We are now getting ready to start an early scholarship test campaign. Between Aug - Nov, a few private schools in Sydney offer scholarship tests for year-7 entry in 2021.  These early scholarship tests are much better than mock selective tests offered by big tutoring colleges. They accurately tell the performance of students so parents know the weaknesses that the students should focus on. These tests are good warm up tests for students to get ready for the main scholarship season in Feb-Mar 2020.

On page QUICK LINKS, parents find a document called 2019 Early Scholarship tests in Sydney with all the details about the schools and test dates. The document Early Scholarship Prep Tracking for year 5 shows the work that should be done to prepare for early scholarship tests. And the document Creative Writing Workshop flyer July 2019 is about the creative writing workshop. We will take only 6 students for the workshop. And we will only run it if there are 6 students interested.

We are very proud of the year 6 who managed to win 24 private school scholarships this year (14 in 2017 and 18 in 2018). Hopefully, year 5 students will rise to the challenge and win as many next year.

Another issue is ICAS for 2019. UNSW Global as replaced their old ICAS program by their new REACH program. Their new ICAS program is supposed to be harder and only available as online test in September. Many schools have dropped ICAS or cut down to fewer subjects. Many students will miss out. ICAS results are useful for scholarship applications. If your school does not offer ICAS, Northshore Coaching is the only alternative to do REACH first and hope to reach top 10% to do ICAS with them. The closing dates are fast approaching.

12 May
I had a look at the UNSW Global's REACH year 5 paper for Digital Technologies today. It is not easier than the 2018 ICAS year 5 paper for Digital Technologies. It's early to say anything until I see more REACH papers. However, the logical idea which also implied in UNSW Global's description of the new ICAS and REACH programs is that ICAS will be mainly for high performers. As it is done only online, it is not marketed by UNSW Global as their main product. Northshore also refuses to provide ICAS test to those who do not achieve top 10% in REACH. This might mean that ICAS tests will be much harder and more inline with the level of selective school and scholarship tests.

What this might lead to is that the ICAS distinctions and high distinctions will be more valuable than before. Before, one can fail 4-5 questions in some hard  papers like science and DT but still get HD. If they all get harder, one can fail more questions and still get HD.
11 Apr
I checked with UNSW Global and they say that if schools don't offer ICAS, the  only way is to go to North Shore. As North Shore offers REACH first and only top 10% will be invited to do ICAS, it's bad but it's the only choice. Many schools don't want to offer ICAS as they do not have decent computers and network to handle online ICAS. So, a lot of students will miss out of ICAS test. ICAS is only of good value to those wishing to apply for scholarships at private schools. Otherwise just buy the past papers and do them at home to get some idea of performance.

ICAS will be a problem this year. Schools don't know what to do as UNSW Global's old ICAS has been replaced by their new program called REACH which is more or less a NAPLAN level test for various subjects. Their new ICAS is now for high performers. ICAS also goes online and cramped into 1 week. Many schools don't know what to do and may not offer ICAS at all. Some cut the participation down to only English and Maths.

This is a problem for our students because the high performers would want to do scholarship tests. They want ICAS results to be in the portfolio to support the scholarship application. In this case, parents may need to use North Shore  Coaching who is a partner of EAA to participate in REACH. North Shore wants kids to do REACH first then top 10% will be invited to do ICAS. Parents should check if they will allow kids to do ICAS without doing REACH and getting into the top 10% first.
07 Apr
The attention is now being turned to 2020 selective test. A glimpse of the success of 2019 selective group has so far been seen by the number of scholarship offers from private schools. It is at 18 and expected to rise a bit more. This means, we will beat last year's record of 18 scholarships.

Year 5 students will follow the same path to Oct 2019 where some will sit a number of early private scholarships on offer. The schools expected to offer early scholarships are: Pymble LC, Abbotsleigh, Danebank and Barker College. Only Barker College is available to boys. All the others are for girls.

Top performers

This means strong performers and those wishing to do scholarship tests should be on the fast pace. By Aug, these students would already do some year 7 work and try 2 selective trials by Sept and early Oct. There is a document to guide students wishing to do early scholarship test. Top students who may not wish to do any of these early scholarship tests would still want to work at this pace. 

Normal performers

A lot of students are not among the top performers. They need more time. So, they might only finish OC revision by Sept and get on year 6 and 7 level late. They will have to work harder during Sep - Dec and work very hard in Jan-Feb 2020 to be ready for scholarship tests and the selective test.

Other events

The NAPLAN test is important even though it is easy. NAPLAN 2019 will be in May. Even though, NAPLAN is known to be easy, we have a few issues to consider. It is an online test. And writing online is not easy if students are slow in typing. The other issue is that students often score poorly in writing. This can affect the school report and also affect the English marks going into the selective school application. Students must prepare for NAPLAN writing by working on both narrative and persuasive writing even though only one type will be tested in the NAPLAN. No one knows which type it will be for the year!

ICAS can be important. It is certainly important for scholarship applications. This year, EEA has changed ICAS. They offer two programs called REACH and ICAS. ICAS is now for high performers while REACH is for all students. Perhaps, they hope to get more low performers doing their tests. The trouble is that ICAS is now cramped into 1 week in Sept. It is also changed into online test including writing (only year 3-4 are exempted from online writing). Students will need to type fast enough. The preparation will be very cramped in a critical time where a lot of school work will be going on to collect marks for the selective school application.

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