Wednesday 13 September 2017

2017 NSW OC results

07 Oct
The wait is over. They again released the OC result on Friday of the first week in Oct. Some results are slowly rolling in. It looks like the test was easier this year so raw marks look high. The school marks seem to have a big influence on the profile. Any school mark around 85 or lower would significantly drag the the OC profile down.

13 Sept
Only 3 more weeks to wait until we have the 2017 OC results. The 2017 results would look similar to those from 2016. Knowing that the lowest OC classes in Sydney would take OC profile cutoffs around 198, most of the students on Mathemafix have the opportunity if parents care to apply to those low classes. 

One good thing about applying for OC classes even though parents don't really want to send kids to OC classes is the opportunity for the kids to get into an enrichment class at their current schools (if the schools have enrichment classes). Schools often allocate places in their enrichment classes based on the result of the OC test and other evidence such as ICAS competition results and school reports.

Friday 9 June 2017

2017 NSW Selective School results

05 July 2017
If parents want to appeal, they should look at the raw marks and profile relative to other students to decide. Appeal is only on school marks and must have support from the school principal. The SSU will only recalculate the profile by dropping the school marks out of the calculation. There is no such thing as getting extra school marks or changing the profile. The SSU only explores an alternative profile to improve the position on the waiting list(s) while leaving the official results as they are.

Parents who already decided to take up scholaships at private schools should do others a favour by declining the selective school offers so other kids on the reserve list will get the offers quickly. Often some parents would still accept the offers then wait until Nov-Dec to decline!  That's a long wait for other kids/parents on the reserve list.

Here is the reserve list

01 July 2017

The selective result came early for a change! It was released on last day of Jun. We have got a set of fantastic results coming back. Early picture shows 7 students getting over 250 and most kids exceed expectations. And as expected, GA is powerful and maths does not matter that much. Our students consistently do well in GA and in many cases this covers for weak English and maths.

Looking at the raw marks, it is clear that strong OC classes in Sydney have enjoyed wonderful scaling (going down less) of school marks while other schools have poor scaling (going down more). One student from overseas had no schoolmarks and the profile is great based only on raw test marks. This is why the SSU generally does not allow parents to apply for school marks exemption (not to use them). While school marks always drag the profile down, the scaling ensure that strong schools get dragged down less than normal schools (dragged down). There is no pushing-up like parents often misunderstand in this game. There is only going down less than expected.

This selective test is easier than previous tests. But it is clear that English is again extremely hard causing many kids to score under 50%. Maths is now like last year so the maths scores are extremely high. GA also looks easier than before. Our students are strong in GA and this helps cover the weak English.

27 June 2017
Less than a week before the 2017 selective test results come back!

Parents should be aware of the important dates for making an appeal if you think the result is lower than expected due to some unfair reasons. This could be due to unusually low school marks or family circumstances.

- Early July 2017, placement outcome advice sent for entry in 2018
- 24 July 2017, appeals due to primary school principals for entry in 2018

The dates above mean that as soon as the result comes back, parents should use the hyper link provided on the email to request the marks immediately. It takes 1-3 days for the marks to come back. This allows an assessment of why the selective profile is not expected. If the school marks are low, parents could appeal but the whole thing must go through the school principal! The school principal must first have a look to see why the school marks are low and agree to support it before it can be sent to the SSU for further processing. The time will be so limited. Often they delay the result so there will be even less time to fill the application, see the principal, wait for the principal to meet with the teacher to discuss and meet back with parent discuss further...

In short, one must be quick in this whole thing and prepare a good case for appealing. One cannot simply appeal without very good reasons why the SSU should help find ways to bring the profile up and jump the reserve lists. Remember that they will never admit mistakes and change the profile! They will only help to figure out what the profile should have been, and help jump the reserve positions.

The 2017 selective school test result will be released during 1st week of July. It's a nervous time for parents. This year have a strong group of students and the scholarship test results with 9 scholarship offers have proven this. So the selective school test results are likely to be good.

When the results start to roll in the first week of July, this web blog page will be updated. The raw marks and ranking table will tell us a lot about how the students performed.

This is the 2016 and 2015 results for those who reported. Hopefully 2017 will be better.

Monday 15 May 2017

2017 OC preparation

This blog entry covers useful information and take the load away from the Mathemafix internal message board leaving it for only the new information. 

13th Aug,
Students generally report hard English while GA and maths are easier than what they get to do on Mathemafix website. Overall, the feedback is positive. 25 students have given feedback and the summary is as follows.

24th July,

We are now at the END of OC preparation. Students should be resting. Parents either ask students to quickly complete the rest of the trials if they have not finished 8 sets. Or it is ok to ask them to rest completely, and then come back after OC test to finish off the trials just for the purpose of getting a ranking and prediction of OC profile.
Every year in the past, I felt a little worry about the performance of the kids but the results came back were better than the year before. With more content and better experience, this year is probably going to be better again. The key success factor right now is "resting completely" and thinks about the OC test as just a game. Kids should just keep calm and keep cool. Parents should book a restaurant for a nice lunch on the OC test day and let the kids know that it will be a time for celebration and not to worry about the result. That is something nice to look forward to rather than worrying about the test.

After the OC test, parents should ask the kids how they feel about the OC test, fill the survey form on Mathemafix and decide on updating the OC choices. The SSU allows updating choices until near the end of April. It's important to put 2nd choice at a OC class just to get an offer (even if you have no intention of accepting). Then use that offer to pressure the current school to put your kid into its enrichment class (in case there is no placement into the first-choice OC class).

If your kid is not well on the day, go to see a doctor immediately after the OC test to get a medical certificate then fill the illness and misadventure form.

Attached is the trial ranking for 2017. Kids who have not done all 8 trials would rank a little higher as the later tests are harder.

6th July
A lot of year 4 students are working hard. The scores are improving. The overall picture looks very good much like last year. We are heading a great set of OC results where it is expected that 80% of the students will get over 200 and about 60% will get over 220. While 200 is enough for placement in some low OC classes but it is expected that many parents won’t accept OC offers far from home. However, the 2017 selective result again confirms that students in OC classes have strong advantage over students in schools without OC classes.

Their school marks are valued much higher. Those students in schools without OC classes have their marks devalued because there are too many weak students also applied for selective school test. Their poor performance drags the entire school down. The disadvantage could be between 6 - 20 profile points for similar raw marks in the selective test! At the extreme end, it's the fault of the students as they also get poor school marks because they don't try hard at schools to be among the top 5.

So the message here is that parents should consider accepting OC placement even if the class is a little far from home. And picking a reasonable 2nd choice is the key to getting placement then decide later to accept or not. Also gaining OC placement anywhere will also place the student into a local enrichment class (if the school has one). With the OC placement, it is much easier for parents to see the principal to request enrichment which could take 2 forms (1) entering an enrichment class (if there is one) or entering a composite class to study with a higher year (skip year 5, go to year 6 then repeat year 6 again).
One other important thing is  the 10 days after school holiday and the OC test. Some parents will let the kids stay home right until OC test to get more work done (or just relax and be healthy). It is now winter and many kids turn up with cold and flu on the OC test day in the past.

19th Jun
We are reaching a critical time for 2017 OC preparation. The coming school holiday period is so important as students have 2 weeks without school to focus on OC preparation. At this late stage it is most useful for students to stay at home and do a lot of tests, review failed questions, use Super Revision to review past failed questions. It is normal for those who are behind to do as much as 40 tests per week to gain enough depth to score better in OC trials.

Parents should resist the temptation to send kids to intensive trials at tutoring colleges. This will be a waste of money and time. It will stress the kids out without any evidence of benefits among the past students on this website. It is more important to make sure they don't get cold/flu during this winter period before the OC test. So it's important to avoid activities that expose kids to extreme weather and gatherings that expose them to many kids.

There are a few things about performance and exam techniques that parents should pay attention to and coach the kids out of bad habits ...

- Kids tend to rush too much on English comprehension. They need to spend more time reading the texts and reading the questions.
- Kids tend to make silly mistakes in maths as they do not read the question properly (several times) to know exactly what the question asks for.
- Kids have learning gaps at the basics for year 3-4 maths but parents are not aware of because they are top maths students. This leads to silly mistakes or failure to deal with hard questions. The Maths Gaps module should be completed and the learning gaps must be filled.
- Many kids don't have good exam techniques. Parents should take the kids through the Exam Techniques guide to help them do better timing under exam conditions.
- Parents must remember that having a few days of rest before the OC test is very important. So the time remained for OC preparation is less than what it seems to be.

15th May
The series General Academic Knowledge Grade 3-4 is being expanded. This series provides really useful assessment of kids' general knowledge about the world, the Universe, general science and human bodies. Doing well in this series will ensure kids have the vocab for GA and English comprehension. The information comes from Brainpop Jr. This is a great website that parents should consider getting a subscription.  
Looking back at 2016 OC results 


There were a lot of strong students in 2016. Hopefully we will have a similar group of students this year. Looking at the results, a trial average around 70% on Mathemafix's 8 trials would be required to get OC placement. Around 80% will be an excellent level to expect placement into any OC class.

OC placement cutoff scores for 2017 can be found here: Minimum Entry Scores for 2017 OC Placement

Official web page for key information about OC test: Opportunity Class year 5

Most important documents on Mathemafix related to OC test preparation: OC Roadmap, Minimum OC Work Plan 2017, OC G&T Program guide, Maths Problem Solving Strategies Year 4-5, Maths Problem Solving Strategies Year 2-3 (for year 3 students)

The above documents are available for download after a user log on Mathemafix website (into OC group).

Thursday 9 March 2017

Summary of Selective test preparation in 2017

This page is a summary of the 2017 selective test preparation effort. We have very strong students this year. The preparation followed the same path much like 2016 where students were encouraged to do early private scholarship tests in Sep-Oct the year before. This means the first 2 selective trial tests were completed around 6 months before the selective test. The results of the early scholarship tests gave students (and their parents) some idea of their level of performance.Students went on to complete a massive work program and finished their 8th trial around 5th Mar.

The highlights of the early scholarship effort at the end of 2016 are:

- Three students were invited to scholarship interview and one student won a full scholarship to a boy school.
- Several students achieved performance at around band 8 and early band 9 (out of 9) in scholarship tests.
- One year 4 students scored well into band 7 and 8 (out of 9) in several areas of a scholarship test beating many year 5 students.

The 2017 scholarship season is drawing to a close and a lot of results will come out during the next 3-4 weeks. We will know how many students achieve scholarship offers by the end of April.

2017 scholarship results so far ...
  • 3 interviews The Scots College late 2016 resulting in 1 full scholarship offer for PikachuWPS
  • An interview at an elite private boys school for GUGI1
  • A full scholarship from an elite girls school for Cleverpeacock
  • A full scholarship from an elite private boys school for Clashonlocky
  • Another full scholarship from at an elite private boys school for Clashonlocky
  • Another full scholarship (on spot offer!) from an elite girls school for  Cleverpeacock
  • A full scholarship (on spot offer!) from an elite girls school for Iris2391 
  • Another full scholarship (on spot offer!) from an a co-ed school for  Cleverpeacock 
  • An interview at an elite private girls school for Jiya Rex1 
  • A scholarship offer from a co-ed school for  EmmaS1
  • A scholarship offer from a co-ed school for  Captain OC
Recently, the schools changed tact and asked parents if they would accept an offer less than 100%. As parents told them they only wanted 100% offer so we would get fewer offers. Generally each school only offer 1 full academic scholarship but it looks like they have changed. They now offer 2-3 full scholarships depending on the quality of the candidates and parents insisting on getting 100% (or nothing).

Writing strategy as the key driver for scholarships

Unlike the Selective test where writing is worth about 11%, it is a lot bigger in scholarship tests. In the ACER scholarship test, it is worth up to 50% as there are 2 writing tasks among 4 tasks. As writing is often the worst area of students coming to Mathemafix, the writing strategy has been strictly on getting students to write proper narratives and persuasive tasks within 20-25 minutes. The writing guide along with e-learning modules (Story Starter, Writing Planner, Punctuation) and the  Collaborative Writing Forum for students to share hare all the writing works have delivered top quality writing for hard working students. Our best writer of 2017, despite moderate performance in English reading and Maths, has clinched a full ACER scholarship at one of the best girls schools. Similarly, we have other students doing very well and got 9 full scholarships so far at top private schools.

Best writer's ACER result

Next best writer's ACER result

The selective preparation officially finished on 5th Mar. The performance of students this year indicated that we had a really strong group of students with several students with OC profiles at 240-260.

Attached here is the result of selective trials vs. past Selective profiles from 2016 and summary of 2016 results. The information will help parents predict their children's selective profiles and make informed Selective school choices.

It is important for parents notice the important dates especially the deadline for changing of school choices and submitting the illness/misadventure form to the Selective Unit.

  • 24 March 2017 Requests for consideration of Illness or misadventure submitted by applicants for entry in 2018 28 April 2017 Change of school choice closes for entry in 2018
  • Early July 2017 Placement outcome advice sent for entry in 2018
  • 24 July 2017 Appeals due to primary school principals for entry in 2018


Feedback from students on the 2017 Selective test. [To be updated]

It is clear from the 26 feedback so far, Mathemafix covers the selective test pretty well.

The general consensus is that selective English was harder than Mathemafix's but GA is clearly easier. Students have different opinions about selective maths but more students that it was easier.

Students seem to remember different things. On the question whether science was seen in English reading texts and GA, some saw it but many did not.  Some students recognised that the difficulty for English was close to trial 6-8 where most students struggled.

It is rated by students are better than their tutoring places. The higher the students scored in Mathemafix's 8 trials, the more they reported that the content was similar to the selective test. This was probably due to the fact they understood the questions better and also they had done more work on Mathemafix.

A possible effect of having extremely difficult English is that English will scale very strongly this year. The result will become unstable. Some strong readers who were also lucky in English test will exceed expectation. But it will blunt the middle performers making their English result look much like low performers'. And this means GA score will be really important.

Looking forward for year 6 students

Now that the 2017 selective test is over. Parents would wonder what's next? The following ideas come to mind.

- Rest, sports, music, fun ...
- ICAS competitions and Maths Olympiad
- Maths extension to year 7 and 8

For those year 6 who wish to stay on, there is a special deal of $125 for access until end of 2017.

Some students won't care about ICAS competition any more. However, if a student is not expected to do really well in the selective test and plan to apply for better selective school in year 7 (to enter year 8), great ICAS competition result can be useful to support the application.

Maths Olympiad is supported by the 2 series Maths Challenge Grade 6-7 and Maths Problem Solving Grade 6-7. Last year, the top student here went on to win gold medal and represented Australia in international competition.

Students who came to this website late and only managed to do a small amount of work or those who did not do well might like to stay on. Test results could be reset allowing students to redo them. Other students might like to extend maths to year 7 and 8 (school maths). Even though the maths to prepare for selective test has some year 7 and 8 maths problem solving in it, a lot of formal year 7 and 8 maths theory are still untouched. It is useful to cover all maths theory to end of year 7. This will allow students participate in maths enrichment groups at selective schools. Maths acceleration is achieved by using the Maths Lessons guide and the Maths Lesson module.