This blog entry will inform members of the Selective Support group on important issues related to the 2021 Selective Test and scholarship tests to take the heavy load away of the internal message board.
Coming up is some competitions
like Maths Olympiad and AMC maths. Often, a school only does AMC maths or
Olympiad but not both. I am not sure how Maths Olympiad would turn out this
year as the 1st session has been completed by students sitting at home so they
The ICAS last year was a mess.
This year it is probably a mess too unless schools return to normal by Aug. It
is expected that a lot of schools still would not offer all ICAS tests or any
at all. UNSW Global's partner, North Shore Coaching, will offer ICAS this year.
According to their website and their ICAS T&C, students can now sit their
ICAS directly. Also, this year, students are allowed to connect to their WIFI
network so there is no need for buying an Internet access dongle or use a
mobile phone as a hot spot.
The big question is the value
of ICAS. Schools generally do not use ICAS results as part of the school marks
for selective applications. ICAS has been cancelled too. So, perhaps, the only
value of ICAS is to show private schools to apply for full-fee enrolment. The
ICAS results are not even useful for private school scholarship applications.
This is because they don't want to know anything until the students score high
enough in scholarship tests to get an interview. And according to experience in
Feb-Apr of 2020, they have cut back drastically on scholarship offers as they
now have financial troubles with this coronavirus crisis.
If parents still want their
kids to do ICAS, they need to ask their schools on what ICAS subjects would be
offered. And perhaps enrol to do the missing ones with North Shore Coaching.
Teachers in year 5 OC classes typically start taking school marks for the selective application from second semester starting with term 3. The earliest time they would start taking some marks would be middle of term 2. This means school kids have term 1 to warm up to the heavy load of work. All schools would send out a note to parents asking them to say if their kids will do the selective test so that the school can collect the marks (and give them the tests they need to gather the marks).
The majority of the English marks will come from writing and short answers for comprehension tests. This is why kids should focus on doing writing. The Writing Workshop and Punctuation modules will help those who are serious about writing.
Now is the time to warm up for Maths Olympiad. The following maths series are for this purpose.
For year 5
Mini Math Challenge Grade 4-5
Mini Math Challenge Short Response Grade 4-5 (harder version of the Mini Math Challenge Grade 4-5)
For year 6
Mini Math Challenge Grade 6-7
Mini Math Challenge Grade Short Response 6-7 (harder version of the Mini Math Challenge Grade 6-7)
Mini Math Problem Solving Grade 6-7
Each test only has 5 questions but students are allowed 30 minutes to work on them. This is exactly like Maths Olympiad where students are allowed 30 minutes to solve 5 hard questions. Past experience shows that students who do well in the above series. As year 5 students will do the competition together with year 6's, it's very hard for year 5 students to win awards. They need to get to top 10% to hope for anything.
The year 5 students who are really serious about Maths Olympiad should work rapidly over Mini Math Challenge Grade 4-5 (ore revise all failed questions for this series if already done) and move on to slowly do the year 6-7 series. There is no way get high scores by rushing as these are very difficult problems.
It is highly recommended that students learn the strategies in the document Maths Problem Solving Strategies Year 5-6 (and then 6-7) to improve problem solving skills.
emphasis on English now is making selective school placement a lot harder for kids
who don't do well in English comprehension (and get good English marks
is a feature called Personal Wordlist. An English dictionary has been
added to the system as well. Students can now collect the words they
don't know well into a personal Wordlist to study.
is a guide called Enriching English Vocabulary on the page QUICK LINKS
about this. This new feature will really help students get more out of
the texts they do in English comprehension. They can go back to study
the questions that have new words they need to learn.
We now have the 2019 OC test results out. Much like last year, most students have done well. The truth is that OC profile above 200 is decent even though students may not get a placement in an OC class. At 200, one can work hard and still have a chance to make it into one of the top 10 selective schools.
However, it is now increasingly hard for students who are not excellent in English to get a place in one of the top 10 selective schools. The SSU has campaigned both on harder English test and harder English at school and we see evidence of harder English in the NAPLAN as well in 2019 NAPLAN where kids who got to band 7 (out of 8) failed nearly 1/2 of the English questions! Even kids at early band 8 still failed 1/3 of the questions. And the kids who got to the triangle level of reading failed up to 1/4 of all questions.
The question is how students should prepare so that they will do well in English (and also other areas)?