Saturday, 30 January 2021

2022 Selective and Scholarship Test Preparation

This blog will take the load off the Mathemafix message board by hosting important information about 2022 Selective and Scholarship test preparation.

14 Jul

The 2021 selective test results look very good. All the noise about Thinking Skills turns out to be nothing. It's of zero concern and actually TS is probably easier to learn than GA where there is really no good way but to do a lot of GA questions. At least, with TS, one can learn properly. And that's why I have created video lessons and practice tests for students. TS learning also enhances writing and reading.

The scores students get for TS look very good and a couple of students got 100%! It looks like we actually over-prepared for TS. Students were advised to also do the GA as well because it's part of TS visual and mathematical reasoning but many did not. We could have got even better results for TS if all students did GA.

The scores for English looks a lot better than those from ACER time when they gave tricky English. I also see high writing scores among students who were actively working on writing with the Selective Writing module. So, overall, I can see that the number of students getting to top 10 selective schools increases over last year's.

The main point I take out of the 2021 selective test results to help kids improve in 2020 is that we now have much better TS prep for the students. The year 5 students now have access to a comprehensive TS preparation module for year 4 students doing OC test. This prep is almost enough for selective TS level. In addition, they will also use the TS prep for year 6 which is a bit too high but that will help more students to score over 90% for TS in 2022 selective test.

05 Feb
Now is the time for year 5 students to build the foundation. Mathemafix is offering two online Google class to take students to a high level of performance in mathematics and in writing.

The first class is for advanced mathematics. It is designed for students who have completed all year 6 school mathematics. The time is really flexible as students have a whole year to do this Google class from now until Feb 2022.

The second class is about narrative and persuasive writing. There is no requirement before starting this class. Students are supposed to have basic grammar and spelling at year 5 level.  Similar to the maths class, the time is really flexible as students have a whole year to do this Google class from now until Feb 2022. 

One of the most important thing about writing is that students need a marker to review and comment on their works. Mathemafix will provide on-demand marking to allow parents to pay only for each piece of work that they request marking.

03 Jan

In 2022, students will be doing an online selective test. They actually planned an online test for 2021 but they changed their mind. They may change their mind again in 2022 unless they think there will be enough computer resources to do this online.

They will replace the GA questions by thinking skills questions. If we look at the selective sample TS paper, they have about 50% of mathematical+spatial reasoning questions and 50% verbal reasoning questions. The big question in the mind of parents would be whether GA tests are still relevant. My opinion is that the GA questions are still relevant as they boost skills in maths reasoning, spatial reasoning and vocab which is useful for understanding verbal reasoning questions. This is why I think students should still do GA tests. There is nothing to worry about the 50% of mathematical+spatial reasoning as I expect students on this website have all what they need to do well.

Then the next question is "What is the TS verbal reasoning?" It's a new style of questions based on verbal arguments. It is grouped into 2 groups. One is of argument and the other one is of logical deduction (only a few questions). The argument group uses the basic skills students learn in English reading with a focus on Main Idea, Supporting Details, Conclusion and Argument. An argument can be defined as a process where the writer/speaker presents the main idea and supporting details on the way to reach a conclusion. So, one can consider "argument" as a presentation method (writing method). Students already work on these basic skills when they do the Reading Skills series from year 3-5. What Cambridge does with TS questions is that they set them at a very hard level where all the basic skills must be good enough before students can deal with Cambridge's questions.

But all this change does not really make much of a difference because students still need to prepare the foundation before they reach the level where they can deal with the exam. And this means the real test preparation only happens about 12 weeks before the exam. The only difference is that the TS questions are set at such high level that it does not make sense for kids to start doing any selective trials before the end of year 5.

01 Feb
The OC result from the delayed 2020 OC test looks much as expected from an ACER test. The only notable difference is that English scores look more stable. The GA scores actually looks high so the scaling for it is probably lower. Students will move on to 2022 where they will do the new Cambridge test. This roup is lucky because in 2021, the first group to do the Cambridge test will face a lot of uncertainty due to the change in test format and the switch from GA to Thinking Skills.

For details on the 2020 OC prep and test result, follow this link.

18 Nov
The OC test in 2020 has been delayed so much that it happens in Nov. Students are tired and they don't get a lot of break time to rest before year 5 starts. What this means is that students should be allowed to rest very well from Nov to Jan 2021. Often parents are in a hurry to get students back to studying again for the selective test. This is not a good idea.

However, for those who really rest, it's a great time to improve English by simply reading a big variety of books and big fiction series. English is always the most important area of learning as it supports GA and word problems in maths. It's very important to enrich English vocab to cope with the hard verbal tests in GA.

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

2020 OC preparation

This blog will take the load off the Mathemafix message board by hosting important information about 2020 OC preparation.

17 Jan
Finally the OC result is out! After so much delay. There is no school marks so the raw test scores shows how the OC profile is related to the test scores. The average of the test scores influences the profile almost directly. English is scaled better than maths and GA. However, it shows a strange thing where the higher the scores are, the less increase in the profile is. 

There are some interesting observations. The averages for Eng, Maths and GA are Eng 69.5, Maths 76.8, GA 80.7. While it is not possible to use the figures for our students to talk about scaling of the marks across the entire NSW, however English does look quite lower and should be scaled better. Our high GA average might be because the impact of the extra GA stuff added to the website this year. The English scores for top kids also look good. It could be due to more effort we put in this year for English and the emotion type of English. The highest score in the state is 271 and that is lower than scores over 280 for the past years. Looking at the top raw scores, we can see that there is scaling down on test marks. The slightly lower profiles could be the effect of not having school marks.

OC profile versus Raw mark


05 Jan
The OC test results will soon come out. It's expected that the results would be out by the middle of Jan so that's only just over one week away. As this OC test was still from ACER, the results should be similar to the previous 3 years. There should not be any surprise. The only surprise will be English reading scores as it was extremely unpredictable due to ACER's game to beat tutoring shops. 

When the results are out, parents can log on Mathemafix and update the scores so we can all have a picture of what the 2020 OC test performance for our students looks like.

A look back at the 2019 OC results

12 Nov
This is the result of the last 3 OC trials when compared with past students in 2019. The last 3 tests were harder and probably more accurate to predict results. However, it also show that some kids with low scores managed a high OC profile (they were probably doing tutoring soomewhere and not too interested in doing OC trials here). We also see some kids get low profiles as they unexpectedly crashed on the day (especially in English).

Rankingby OC trials 6-8


Ranking by OC trials 1-8

 16 Sep

After two delays, we are still no sure if the OC test will actually happen to plan or it will go online in Nov. If it goes online in Nov, it will surely be done at each school rather than in a hall at a high school as there won't be enough equipment.

This 2020 OC test will still be from ACER. It is expected taht the format will be the same as before and the English will be like the last 2 years. They will put a lot of questions about feelings to blunt the advantage of the students attending tutoring. It will favour older/mature students and the students who have strong empathy for others. It has been observed that a student who only read at year 4 level can beat those who read at year 6 level. The ones who read a lot of fiction with deep themes will be able to score well.

The other issue is that those who work hard right through Sep-Oct is likely to risk getting burnt out. For parents, having a courage to let kids rest and recharge is the quality that can help the kids to be at their best on the OC test day.

This OC test is like no others. It gives the slower kids a chance to catch up. It frustrates the strong perfomers who are ahead and ready for it since July. Many kids will face the risk of being burnt out. It gives kids a chance to avoid school marks which can be very unfair. If the 2020 selective test is any guide, teh OC test will have the same hard English and the maths will not be as easy as it was before.

- Students are advised to use the "resting time" now to read a lot of sad novels.
- Students should work matsh problem solving to get to the top level as maths will have more weight than before (even though the weight is less than English).

12 Mar

Some schools will offer students at year 3-4 a chance to do Maths Olympiad competition. This is a hard maths competition where students get 30 minutes to do just 5 questions.

The maths series Mini Math Challenge Grade 4-5 is designed for this purpose. For year 3 students, it is just too difficult to participate in this competition. Year 4 students are advised to do this maths series and try to score around 80%. This means they actually have to spend about 25 minutes. They may be able to solve 4 problems in 10 minutes but one hard problem can take 15 minutes! This is why students must learn to be patient and parents must set them time between 20-30 minutes to do each test. There is no point to work on these tests the normal way spending only 10 minutes and guess what the answers.

The series Mini Math Challenge Grade Short Response 4-5 is teh harder version of Mini Math Challenge Grade 4-5. This is for really keen maths students.

10 Mar
It looks like school disruption by coronavirus will happen frequently in the near future. It's a good idea for parents to plan for kids to do stay home and do work online rather than playing games at home. It's important to have a plan of work for days that they stay home doing a mix of reading, doing tests, review failed questions, learning vocab, writing, learning basic school maths, ... All of this is provided on Mathemafix website. Please read the OC G&T program guide for more information.

09 Mar
The emphasis on English now is making OC placement a lot harder for kids who don't do well in English comprehension (and get good English marks at school).

There 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. 

There 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.

03 Mar
It's useful for parents to read the 2019 OC preparation blog where a lot of information and OC results are avialable.