Saturday 29 April 2023

2023 OC preparation

This blog will take the load off the Mathemafix message board by hosting important information about 2023 OC preparation.

Reading the blog for 2022 OC Prep will also you valuable information.

We are now in the last week of OC preparation. Students are finishing off the OC trials and OC boosters to be ready for the 2023 OC test.

Some trial results


In the above OC trial results I include 4 results from 2022 students and their placement into OC classes to give ideas what it takes to get into OC. People can see that 63% on the trials would be enough to enter decent OC classes in the SW of Sydney and it's really hard to get into the top schools in the NW of Sydney.

Not all students are ready for the OC test. So, even if a student is not ready for the OC test, s/he needs to do at least some OC trial sets to know the difficulty. Do some OC boosters as well to boost the performance. After the OC test, one can go back to the normal pace and work on easier stuff to build the foundation and look toward selective test preparation for year 5.

For those students who have done enough and are ready for the OC test, it's time to finish off all the OC trial sets and revise failed questions carefully. One can do this either by using the module Super Revision or create a custom test for a series and going through the failed questions.

There are also past Cambridge papers for 2021 and 2022 and the Cambridge sample test in 2020. They can be downloaded from the SSU website or students can do the online versions already set up on Mathemafix.

We are now within the last 16 weeks of the 2023 OC test date. This is where students start doing OC trials and OC boosters.

Not all students are ready for OC trials. In order to be ready for OC trials, students should have the following:

- All year 5 school maths covered and a significant effort already put into maths problem-solving.
- Be able to score 85% plus on year 5 English comprehension and 85% on the series Mathematics Grade 5.
- Have watched the video lesson on Thinking Skills at OC level and start doing OC Thinking Skills Boosters

All students should follow the Minimum OC Work Plan 2023 to plan their tests and trials.

If parents are unsure about what to do, a training session is probably the quickest way to figure it out. Please make contact to arrange for this.

Sunday 16 April 2023

2023 Selective and Scholarship Test Preparation

This blog will take the load off the Mathemafix message board by hosting important information about 2023 Selective and Scholarship test preparation. 

15 May
Students have managed to win several scholarships. While the number is moderate this year, the scholarship process has been really difficult. Some schools interviewed students twice!

From what parents informed me, we have achieved (for 2024 entry)

1 x Santa Sabina (100%)
1 x MLC School (100%)
1 x Shore School (100%)
1 x The Scots College (100%)
1 x Cranbrook (partial scholarship)
1 x Georges River Grammar (partial scholarship)
1 x Scots All Saints College (partial scholarship)

There may be some more waiting for interview results and some parents have not told me.

04 May
Some students gave feedback on the selective test and generally, they feel it is easier than Mathemafix trials. They also feel that the TS on Mathemafix prepared them very well for the TS they saw in the 2023 selective test.

- In the English paper they did not give sentence cloze. They get students to pick the title/heading for paragraphs of text. This requires the skill to find the main idea. It's not hard. It is quite similar to 2022 when they as about summaries.
- In Thinking Skills, they still only use 3 question types for the verbal reasoning questions. So, nothing has really changed.
- The writing is about creating a character. So, it's just characterisation. However, there is a bit of email writing and it is like a persuasive task alongside a characterisation task.

24 Apr
We now are only 1 week before the 2023 selective test date. The delay of 6 weeks does not seem to help students. Most students just slow down their preparation instead of taking advantage of the delay to get more work done. However, this delay helps our top students to relax after they had a big private school scholarship campaign where they gained a number of interviews and scholarship awards. So, they cruise to the selective test in a very relaxed manner.

Here is the picture of selective trials

Students only have one more week to finish off their preparation and then relax for a couple of days to be fresh on the date of the test.

Last-minute preparation could include the following things

- Improve the exam techniques where hard questions must be skipped to save time and come back to do them later. There is a guide about this on page QUICK LINKS.
Make sure at least 4 trial sets are completed.
- Do all the Cambridge Selective samples including the last 2 past selective test papers.
- Review and close all failed questions

There are a few things to consider.


They introduced a new question type in the 2022 selective test where students deal with a summary of a paragraph. They did not give the question-type sentence cloze as in the 2021 selective test. This type of question is covered by all the reading skills series on Mathemafix so it's not so important. Students should train in the sentence cloze module and do the test series called English Summaries to be sure.


It looks like the maths they give in the past papers is pretty standard and close to Singapore maths style. They also add a small number of competitive maths questions of Maths Olympiad and AMC style. So, students who do enough maths tests on Mathemafix are expected to do very well. There is no concern here. However, there are weak maths students and they should at least try to do well on the OC level maths to hope for a score around 70%.

Thinking skills

Thinking skills trials on Mathemafix are harder than the real thinking skills papers. There are plenty of TS training and booster tests.  Many students find the selective TS level too hard. Students who are weak in this should at least complete all the available TS materials at the OC level.


For the last 2 years, Cambridge gave really easy writing tests. They gave a fictional recount style instead of the hard narrative style. This means the marking will be based more on grammar, spelling, choice of words and realistic ideas. It will be less on theme and techniques. However, there is nothing to stop students from writing in the narrative style. I believe that using the narrative style might give students more marks. An easy way is to introduce a conflict and complications into the work and also add a theme. This will really help to gain better marks.

- Add a conflict at the beginning of the text. For example, in the 2021 Cambridge writing prompt about the container washing up on a beach, one can mention a group of environmentalists demonstrating at the scene. In the 2022 Cambridge writing prompt about a diary entry on a future date, one can add a conflict between the house robot and the narrator.
- Once a conflict is added in, one can proceed to create a few complications and later add a resolution at the end.
- To add a theme to a work, the proper way is to repeat the thematic idea several times alongside the actions and events. However, a cheap and dirty way is to get one character to say it out loud in a dialogue. For example, if the theme is heroism, one can get a character to say it out loud, "Bob is an average hero that I look up to," said Fred. It's a dirty and cheap way but having a theme is better than nothing. There is a guide about setting up a theme on page QUICK LINKS.

On the day of the test

Here are some useful tips about the day of the test to make sure things go smoothly.

- Relax your child for the day. Stop working 2 days before the test.
- Plan to take your child to a celebration lunch after the test and let your child take the rest of the day off to have fun. Make this known to your child well in advance.
- On the day of the test, a decent breakfast is important to top up the level of energy. A cup of tea will add a little caffeine to help your child stay alert. A jacket may be needed to keep your child warm on a cold day. And some high-energy snack is good to top up during the break.
- Arrive 20 minutes early to find parking and also find the way to the school's toilets. Your child needs to know the way so s/he can rush out of the hall at the break to get there and not have to wait in a long queue (and get back late for the next test).

12 Sep
For entry to Year 7 in 2024, applications are expected to open on 18 October and close on 16 November 2022. The Selective High School Placement Test will be held on 4 May 2023. The test will be paper-based.

Primary schools will not be required to provide school assessment scores for applicants for entry in 2024.

2 Sep
ICAS results are out and also NAPLAN results are out.
I find a result from a fairly weak student who has decent vocab and spelling. I worked with him for over 4 hours on NAPLAN and I was very surprised with the writing and grammar results. They always say that NAPLAN writing is hard and I have seen lots of results over the years and it's very hard to get to the top arrow.

Attached here is the NAPLAN writing prep he did with me just before the NAPLAN test. We only worked on writing a few times before he did this narrative. I did not think the narrative was good. But it is certainly not too bad. The difference I see in it from many other students' works is a reasonable attempt to flow the ideas and making sure there is a proper start, story development and ending.


The message I get out of this is that the basics of writing skills are so important. That's what markers look for. Interesting ideas are not so important. It's so important to flow the ideas so that the story makes sense. It's important to selective teh rigth words that help the expressions be accurate. It's vital to get the structure correct.

2 Sep
By now students should have completed all year 6 maths online and start to focus on problem solving. They hopefully already start English comprehension year 6. The top performers are well into year 7 English comprehension.

Parents should consider joining the kids to the Google Advancaed Maths Class and the Google Online Writing Class.

The video lessons will help students to get to the next level.

21 Aug

Parents should read the blog for the 2022 selective prep to get some idea about how students performed and what experience we gained from it.