Why is non verbal reasoning important?

Non-Verbal Reasoning is not generally taught in schools. In fact there’s very little to actually teach as it is not an academic subject.

For most parents the 11-Plus, Non-Verbal Reasoning is the stuff of nightmares! The main problem is that children will not have been taught the subject in class time at primary school and it is highly likely that parents have never been taught it either.

Non-Verbal Reasoning tests for the Eleven Plus are akin to intelligent tests and some of the questions presented to the 10-year-olds would be a challenge even to Mensa members.

This type of test is meant to help determine the innate ability of children and thereby assess their suitability for secondary education at a fast pace. The tests are designed to be tutor-proof – a somewhat clumsy term often used in the world of education to imply that it is difficult to prepare children for the type of question they will be faced with.

Non-Verbal reasoning tests were designed to try and differentiate between children from diverse educational backgrounds. To make the point in an extreme way the idea was that the same test could identify potential when given to a child from a very good educational background or a child who has had very little education. The tests deliberately use very little English so no real comprehension ability is needed to understand what to do.

In practice of course no test is perfect and Non-Verbal Reasoning tests are useful in helping to identify potential but are never used exclusively. Schools also want to make sure that children have very solid core Maths and English skills because otherwise they simply cannot progress well at their chosen secondary school.

So Non-Verbal Reasoning is used in combination with other test forms.

What’s included in Non-Verbal Reasoning tests for children

The essence of Non-Verbal Reasoning is that it tests a child’s logic and observational skills by giving them collections of shapes and patterns; they then might need to find the odd one out, or two shapes which are most similar to each other or to find a missing shape in a series from options given. Children need no particular Maths or English skills to answer the questions although an awareness of shapes symmetry and reflection is useful.

One hope for the designers of Non-Verbal reasoning tests was that they could not be coached for. In fact as in all tests some preparation does help, although because there are no core skills to learn (vocabulary or times tables for instance) preparation is of limited use.

Non-Verbal Reasoning preparation overview

The best results are delivered by doing some work to understand the different question types and then doing some example questions and papers. The largest improvement can be made by improving speed and accuracy, understanding what is required is the easy part. Most tests differentiate children through the sheer number of questions they ask rather than the difficulty level. Most families find that their children can score very highly in rapid time. However families also find their children reach a plateau which is difficult to overcome.

Here’s an example of a easy question:

Shapes:

Which shape is most unlike the others?

 Answer D – In all the other figures the black shape is in front of the white shape

Counting:

When trying to spot patterns one of the things I recommend is to count the number of sides, lines or shapes presented to see if there’s a link.

2) Look at how the first two figures are changed, and then work out which option would look like the third figure if you changed it in the same way:

NVR Counting

Answer C – The number of sides of the white shape becomes the number of points on the black shape. The number of small lines becomes the number of sides of the white shape.

Pointing:

If a question has arrows in it the first thing I would recommend is to look for a pattern in the direction that they are pointing.

3) Which shape is most unlike the others? 

D – because the arrow is pointing away from the circle. All the other shapes the arrow is pointing towards from the circle

Shading & Line types:

Always look for a pattern in how the lines and shading may change.

4) Look at how the first two figures are changed, and then work out which option would look like the third figure if you changed it in the same way:

Answer D – The large and small shapes swap shadings. The outline of the large shape becomes dashed.

Order & Position:

Check to see how a shape is positioned in relation to the other shapes.

5) Look at how the first two figures are changed, and then work out which option would look like the third figure if you changed it in the same way:

Answer D – The shape at the back moves to the front and the shape at the front moves to the back. The two shapes at the top swap shading.

Rotation:

It will make life easier if you know what a 45 degree and 90 degree rotation looks like. Also, when a shape is rotated, check the direction, whether it’s been rotated clockwise or anti-clockwise could be the key to the correct answer. The direction is irrelevant for a 180 degree rotation.

 6) Work out which option would look like the figure on the left if it was rotated:

Answer A – The figure is rotated 180 degrees. Option B has been rotated and reflected. In option C, two of the arrows are the wrong length. In option D, the diamond is missing and two of the arrowheads are wrong.

Reflection:

Imagine placing a mirror where the line (mirror line) is drawn. What would the object look like when peering into the mirror? Initially, you could use a small mirror when working on reflections as a learning aid.

7) Work out which option would like the figure on the left if it was reflected over the vertical line. 

Answer A – Option D looks almost identical, but the white rectangle is smaller than the original shape. Option B the black arrow has moved to the front of the rectangle and in option C, the black arrow is in the original position and has not been reflected.

Layering

This relates to the position of shapes either in front of or behind another shape.

8) The first figure below is changed in some way to become the second. Choose the figure on the right that relates to the third figure in the same way that the second relates to the first. 

B – The top and bottom shapes disappear leaving the middle circle. The stripes from the top shape move to the bottom and the checks from the bottom shape move to the top.

Elimination

You can see with a glance that option A cannot be a rotation of the shape on the left, therefore, eliminate it and I would recommend crossing it out. When pressed for time, and believe me they will be, it’s easy for the brain to become frazzled and confused when confronted with several options. So, cross out the options that are incorrect so that there’s less to consider and you won’t have to give it a second glance or five! 

9) Work out which option would look like the figure on the left if it was rotated:

Answer C – Option D is a reflection.

What’s our approach to NVR?

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, which is  why we use the following method:

  • We take time to demonstrate what they should be looking for. For example, shapes, counting, rotations, pointing, elimination, etc. 
  • Students will then practise this skill before moving onto the next.
  • Once this process is complete we will then practise questions that are a combination of the areas below, as they are now in a stronger position to answer these correctly.  

13 Reasons Why Online Tutoring is the Best

13 Great Reasons To Invest in Online Tutoring

Even though the COVID pandemic played a major role in the prolific rise of the virtual classroom phenomenon, we are not unfamiliar with the fact that edtech has always had the potential to boom beyond limits.  

So when the coronavirus was crippling the education system all over the world, putting the future of students in a fix, online tutoring emerged as a silver lining, with many students, teachers, and parents placing their trust in the virtual tutoring setup. 

After more than a year of pandemic and students, parents, teachers and schools turning to digital learning, research done by CoSN in 2021 found that digitally prepared districts were able to leverage teacher collaboration during pandemic and were able to better support student learning needs while minimizing the learning gaps. Across the globe a huge percentage of schools and universities turned to digital learning last year and are continuing to use blended learning as an opportunity rather than a necessity borne of crisis.

Another research report released by Center for Public Research and Leadership at Columbia University in July 2021 proves that students learning is equally effective and engaged in an online environment as it is face to face in a school classroom. But the underlying assumption is that students receive access to excellent quality instructions and have support from parents or caregivers.

So, it is fair to say that online tutoring is here to stay and so let’s take a look at some of the key benefits that students, teachers and parents can get out of online learning.

1. It helps bridge the learning and skill gaps

Think about times when you missed a school day due to sickness or other personal reasons or in other scenarios when you had to deal with summer learning loss and fear entering the class with low confidence.

Online tutoring can help in bridging the gaps and allow students to review concepts from the past year, current school year and feel confident going into the class again. No matter whether you’re heading back into the classroom, starting a new topic in school, or trying to make up for a missed class, online tutoring can help you along the way.

2. Provides guidance with school homework and college assignments

Up until 2019, pre covid time, our education system primarily involved the following three key participants in the process of teaching and learning – the students, the teachers, and the teaching material. 

But this mix, suddenly after the pandemic, had a new and dominant  player – the parents. 

But were they ready for it?

Of course there is no one answer to this question but there were multiple research studies released last year which showcased how overwhelmed and helpless parents felt when it came to education and learning for their children. For working parents who have demanding job roles and are busy with meetings and work related deadlines, added pressure of helping children with their learning needs caused unneeded pressure and stress.

Home work helpers and online tutoring provided a lot of benefits to parents and families. Anything from short informational summaries to providing full step – by -step solutions to students helped the student get the correct guidance, gain confidence, look good in class but also at a personal level can help build a stronger parent-child relationship leading to overall happiness and mental satisfaction.

3. Leads to better retention and engagement

Although hard to believe, it’s now proven by multiple researchers that lessons conducted through video delivers high engagement with students leading to improved levels of information retention when compared to the traditional classroom lectures.

In April 2018, The Journal of Cognitive Research published a study showcasing the results of an experiment that was conducted on high school seniors on a complex subject like biology. The experiment included teaching the students through a variety of teaching styles including videos and lectures and post each teaching session the students were required to take a test on the information just taught in the class.

The results of the experiment showcased that video lessons proved to be the most helpful for students when measured in terms of content retention and engagement. 

Most of the online tutoring companies offer a variety of video learning resources which students can use for learning and gaining clarity of complex concepts. Online tutors are available 24/7 and students can subscribe to a video resource anytime.

4. Indulges students in an active learning process

Each student is different, their knowledge levels, style of learning etc are all different and it is very critical to understand these subtle differences and offer right guidance in early childhood to encourage brain development.

Education consultants who have worked on the topic of dealing with early childhood education and concepts of brain development and she believes that, a correct mentoring and quality instructions can help a child play a crucial role in first making the child feel safe and supported and then once the child is out of the operating defensive or out of fear mode he or she can think from a calm mind. By using a calm mind a child can then start to use the top part of the brain and indulge in an active learning process with the mentor, tutor or coach.

5. Boosts a child’s confidence and morale.

A few simple ways through online tutoring can help build the self esteem in a child are:

  1. Providing a platform and personalized setting for the child to feel heard and safe. In no way they should feel that taking after school help or guidance is any indication on their ability to learn or be as soon as their peers.
  2. Online tutoring platforms can help break the school curriculum into smaller milestones & goals based on their knowledge levels, make a plan to achieve those milestones and celebrate small and big achievements to give the experience of success rather than failure. 

Because in the end there is nothing more important or meaningful than bringing up emotionally balanced, healthy and happy minds.

6. Results in improved test scores for students

Test scores are not just mere numbers; they indicate a lot of what might be going right or wrong. Bad test scores could be an indication that your child is probably falling behind in class and needs guidance and mentoring.

All the above five things discussed in the article so far work together to deliver on the test reports. If your child has no learning gaps, she/he understands the homework questions and solutions in detail, has been learning actively and feeling emotionally supported then there is nothing that can come in between your child and the A+ grades.

7. Highlight a child’s strengths and weaknesses

Each child is unique and one must appreciate each child as an individual. This means that the way they learn and process information is also going to be slightly different. In school, teachers are limited by the time and curriculum and hence need to teach in a particular style and at a particular pace. School teachers can’t give the attention and focus to each student in class for the same reasons.

That’s where the after school online tutoring programs can be helpful. Not only will the child be able to get one-on-one attention but they can raise their hands without any hesitation. Online tutoring platforms like Heatherharries.com also provide learning style and knowledge assessments to check the skill level of a student which can highlight if your student needs additional support.

8. Help parents & teachers be better tuned on child’s progress

Based on an initial assessment tutors at HeatherHarries set goals with the student and tailor the pace of teaching based on the student’s needs. At each milestone, the teachers take time to tak to the parents informing them about their child’s progress. This way parents aren’t just better informed about the value of online tutoring for their child but they can take this information and communicate with the school teachers more confidently and help prove any resources needed to improve their child’s grades in class.

Therefore setting predefined goals before starting regular online tutoring and checking your progress from time to time can be instrumental in delivering impactful results.

9. Provides more time for extra curricula’s & personality development

Another benefit of online tutoring is that it helps you save time. First, the student is not struggling to fight the homework battles alone or spending time looking for free online unreliable resources. Second is that online classes can be attended within the comfort of your home. Not only does one escape the hassle of commuting but online tutoring also can be used by students as per their schedule and requirements. In fact, with the help of online tutoring platforms, teaching can happen anywhere and anytime. What a productive way of gathering knowledge on the go!

The coolest thing is that it is so flexible. It doesn’t matter if you are an early bird or a night owl. Just schedule a session when you are ready to learn.

Schedule a session at your convenience since e-learning allows you to manage your calendar. It can help you handle your workload while prioritizing your time. Opening up more space for extra curricular activities and play time which is essential for a healthy brain development.

10. Reduces the risk of dropping out from school or college

In the United States, the overall dropout rate for undergraduate college students is anywhere between 35-40%. A large portion of the dropouts comes from college freshmen dropping out before their sophomore year. Therefore it is important to understand things that can help avoid this from happening.

When all of the above things start to happen and a child starts to see the results of the investment then it’s not just about scoring good grades then the child starts to fall in love with the process of learning and hence the chances of dropping out from school or college reduce significantly.

11. Motivate you to learn more & advance your skill set

According to Madelyn Swift’s book, Getting it Right with Children, the basic psychological needs are to feel lovable and to feel capable. Once students start to feel that they are capable then automatically they are pushed to the state of being “self-motivated” to study and get good grades. This reduces the stress on parents that now they don’t have to constantly push their children to study and understand its importance.

Also young ones these days are tech-geeks. You might find the conventional way of studying a tad bit boring. But edtech has revived and renewed the way a student learns. The newer methods keep them motivated and intrigued to learn more. You will not want to run away from your studies. Instead, you sit to study with full zeal and curiosity.

12. Be the foundation for a successful career after college

Last on our list but one of the most important factors is to be able to live a happy life which means one needs to know how to own his/her life, make correct choices and respond to situations appropriately, and to avoid becoming victims by own lack of knowledge, skills or understanding.

After college, one tends to spend half of his/her life in an office or at work which means that a happy life is very closely related to a job and career. Assuming that a student makes it to a dream college or university and goes on to find employment in the field of their study then the chance of job satisfaction is higher. 

13. Not all teachers are born equal.

You don’t get to choose your classroom teacher, but with online tutition you can choose the teacher that really suits you, at Heatherharries.com we match you with the perfect teacher for your learning needs and then go one step further to find one that is a great match for your personality, this means that you will actively look forward to yoour lessons and this positive mindset will influence the way that you learn – positively.

Therefore investing in an excellent online tutoring platform that supports a child from the early childhood time and can deliver life long results in different forms at different stages in life. By now, we hope our readers are convinced that these 12 reasons are good enough to believe that online tutoring is the best.

Does my Child Really Need a Tutor?

We believe that every child deserves to have the best possible education. Unfortunately, lots of schools are now starting to struggle due to a combination of the effects of COVID, budget cuts and growing class sizes.

Parents are now starting to turn to private tutoring for their kids, in order to give them the boost they need and the grades they deserve.

Tutoring provides a wide range of benefits for your child. If you’re still not sure whether a tutor is your best option, then maybe this article will help.

1) Learn the basics

The biggest reason that kids struggle at school is that they never fully mastered the basics. Imagine if you had to learn algebra when you were still trying to get to grips with basic multiplication. It would be almost impossible!

Schools can’t work on the basics forever. They have to quickly move on to other, more advanced topics in order to get through everything on the syllabus. This is usually why kids are left behind. If you get 50% in your exams we call this a pass, but in reality you only know 50% of the content. This means that as learning is a journey where new subjects are built on prior knowledge moving forward to new topics can be really challenging for many students.

This is where tutoring comes in handy.

A tutor can fill any gaps in your child’s knowledge, even if that means going back to square one. If your child needs to recap the basics, then they can.

This will give your child the basic understand they need so they can catch up with the rest of their class.

2) Prioritise your child

Class sizes are growing fast. As more schools struggle to meet payments, it’s becoming harder and harder to cater for the sheer number of pupils in any one class. Years ago 18 was considered the maximum class size today it is nearer 28. Nothing has changed, still one teacher, except there is more content and pressure to get through the syllabus.

That’s not good for your child. The lower the pupil-to-teacher ratio the better. In a class of 18 kids, your child gets a 18th of the teacher’s time and attention. In a class of 28, that drops to a 28th.

Even then that assumes the teacher’s time is shared equally. Generally, the highest performing students will get the least amount of support from a teacher with the worst performing pupils getting the most help, this means that many students are missing out on the support they need.

The reality is that the pupils in the middle, who struggle with specific topics, won’t get as much attention. A tutor, can change that and provide the attention your child needs. 

Lessons are done on a one-on-one basis, which means every single lesson is focused on the exact areas your child struggles with and support can quickly scaffold and ensure success is achieved quickly.

3) Better focus and concentration

A lot of children simply aren’t suited to a classroom. They get bored and restless, and they wind up disrupting their own learning, and that of their classmates. They may even get into trouble.

With tutoring, however, your child is in a one-on-one situation. This means there are no distractions. They can’t talk to their friends, they can’t fiddle with their pens. They have to focus completely on their tutor.

Your child will also be learning somewhere they are familiar with, at a time to suit them. If they concentrate better in a less formal environment, like a kitchen or living room, then they can learn there. If they are more productive in the early morning before the school day starts, then they can learn then.

It’s important that your child can focus. At school, their attention can wander and their learning will suffer as a result. 

Tutoring ensures they will be fully focused on the lesson, and they’ll end up making far more progress.

4) Loving learning

Struggling at school is extremely demoralising for any child. They’ll be embarrassed because they don’t know as much as their classmates, and they may feel stupid as a result. They’ll be frustrated at not being able to do the work.

Their confidence will start to slump, and as their self-esteem plummets, they’ll become resigned to the fact that they aren’t clever enough for school. It can be hard to recover from that, and they may adopt that attitude for the rest of their life.

Tutoring can steer your child away from that downwards slope, and set your child on the right path.

As they progress with tutoring, their work will start to improve. Slowly but surely they’ll achieve the grades they wanted. They’ll stop feeling embarrassed at school.

In turn they’ll grow increasingly confident. They’ll recognise that hard work and determination pays off and they’ll ultimately learn to love learning. This attitude will serve them well for the rest of their life!

5) Beyond the syllabus

If your child is especially talented at a certain subject, then they’re likely going to become increasingly bored with their lessons. Their teacher has to go at the pace of the class, and will have to stick to the curriculum.

Tutoring is usually seen as a way of helping those who are struggling, but it can also be a good form of teaching for those who are doing really well.

Learning should really continue outside of school, stretching beyond the syllabus. If your child is genuinely passionate about a certain subject, but feels they need to learn more than they do at school, then a tutor can help them develop their passion further.

If, for example, your child is studying GCSE Physics, but is already predicted a high grade, tutoring can help prepare them for A-Level and provide them with a head start.

It’s important to develop your child’s love for a subject before they give up on it and their passion dies out. Tutoring can help you do that.

Find a Tutor Today

Tutoring can turn your child’s life around. It can help struggling kids get a better grasp of the basics, help them to tune in and focus, and help them start a love affair with learning. 

If you would like more information on how tutoring can benefit your child, please fill in the form below and have a chat to our team.

Writer’s Block

Prevent moan and groan when you ask your child to compose sentences or invent stories.

Writing is, of course, a critical skill for children to learn and is intricately tied to reading, which for many children is equally painful. It is a central part of the elementary-school curriculum — not just in language arts but in social studies, science, and even math. And yet there are many children who simply don’t take to writing. Far from being a natural and enjoyable process for these kids, writing can feel overwhelming, tortuous, and downright painful.

What’s should you do as a parent?
As a parent, you may be at a loss as to how to help your child get out of the writing rut. For many children it is all about visualisation and breaking the task down. A whole story is a massive mountain to climb, so break it down to one character, what so they look like, what do they enjoy, what are they about to do next. One small step is a massive one for your child as the story will unfold more easily with the help of visual prompts, do they have blonde hair, so they like running?

This “step by step” philosophy is shared by many teachers and writing experts as a useful tool for helping reluctant writers. That first step can simply mean breaking down a seemingly monumental task into smaller, more manageable parts.

Writing Prompts and Other Upsetting Assignments
A widely used tool in many school systems around the country is the writing prompt, also called a story starter. The idea is to jumpstart the writing process by providing a beginning point. Some examples might be “Last weekend I . . .” or “My summer vacation was . . .”

Yet the writing prompt assignment still strikes fear in the hearts of many struggling writers. The problem with many of the prompts, say teachers and parents, is that they are often vague and can still feel too big to kids. If a writing prompt begins generally, children can narrow it down with specifics, thereby making it seem smaller and less daunting. Take, for example, the prompt, “Write about something unusual that happened to you.” 

  • Ask your child: Do you want to write about something funny that happened? Something embarrassing? Scary?
  • Then ask where this funny thing took place. Was it at school? At home? On the playground?
  • Next, you might ask who else was there, if anyone. Friends? A teacher? A pet?

In this way, your children can progressively narrow the pyramid to a more manageable size.

Always make writing fun, tell them to use ambitious words and try to always write what you think. So many children think of an idea and then shorten it so that they have less stress when it actually comes to putting pen to paper.

I love the book it inspires to children to really enjoy embellishing their descriptions and takes some of the pain away to start with. There are all kinds of categories from people to places, and as you can see below can help really uplevel work.

As with any work your child is doing always make it fun. If your child could do with some additional creativity why not enrole them in our creative writing classes. Amazing for year 8 year to 12 year old and you will see their english marks shoot up as a result.

Writing Classes

Exams are back!

OFQUAL has announced the return of exams, how ready are your students.

Ofqual’s plans for GCSEs and A levels in 2022

1. Grades will be lower than in 2020, but higher than 2019

Ofqual announced today that grade distributions will be pitched at a midway point between pre-pandemic levels of 2019 and results in 2021.

They will be lower than both years when teacher assessment was used in 2020 and 2021 following the cancellation of exams, but higher than those for the 2019 cohort.

2. Ofqual aims to get back to pre-pandemic grading levels in two steps

Chief regulator Jo Saxton said Ofqual’s “aim is to return to a pre-pandemic grade profile”.

But she adds that “we don’t think it would be fair on 2022’s students to do it all in one go, given the disruption they have experienced”.

“We will aim, therefore, to return in broadly two steps.”

Dr Saxton says exam boards will use prior attainment data as a starting point to align subject standards, as in any other year, and that these will be based on an average of the 2019 and 2021 results for each subject.

3. No new top grade in 2023

Ofqual said there would be no new top grade at A level in 2023, with the aim instead to return grading distributions to pre-pandemic levels at this point.

Ofqual said there will be no grading scale changes in 2023. 

4. Exam mitigations for 2022

If exams do go ahead as planned, GCSE English literature, history, ancient history and geography students will have a choice of topics in their exam.

For other subjects where optionality is not available, students will have advance notice of exam topics to focus their revision by no later than 7 February 2022. In the event of further disruption to schooling caused by the pandemic, this information could be released earlier.

In GCSE maths, students will be provided with formulae sheets, and they will be able to use equation sheets in GCSE physics and combined science. 

The same adaptations will be available for GCSE maths and English language in the autumn series next year.

For students sitting the autumn series 2021, the grading standard will mirror the results profile of this summer. 

5. Teachers should think about 2019 results when predicting Ucas grades

Teachers are advised to use the 2019 grading profile when predicting Ucas university admissions grades this year – but to bump up borderline students to the higher grade.

“Teachers this term will be predicting the grades their students will receive in summer 2022 for use on their higher education applications,” Dr Saxton said.

6. Results days are back to normal

Results days will be held over two weeks as usual, with A-level results released on 18 August and GCSEs on 25 August. 

This year both set of exams results were announced in the space of three days in the same week.

Everything you wanted to know about IB

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme is a two-year curriculum for high-achieving high school students. The IB Diploma Programme is the most widely offered IB program in the United States. 945 high schools are authorized to use and teach the IB diploma curriculum.

Why should I consider the IB Programme?

International Baccalaureate programs are offered and recognized worldwide. The idea is that students in a variety of different countries will learn the same curriculum during high school. When it comes time for students to apply for college, institutes of higher education will know exactly what an applicant’s high school curriculum entailed. They’ll also know that the student has met college entry requirements.

Within the United States alone, over 1,600 colleges have policies that recognize the IB coursework that students completed in high school. For some institutions, qualifying grades on IB exams are enough to bestow college credit, while at other institutions, qualifying grades may not provide credit but may allow students to skip ahead past introductory-level classes.

Classes are offered at two levels: standard level (150 hours of instruction) and higher level (240 hours of instruction). In a given year, students must take three or four higher-level classes, and the remainder must be standard level. The classes generally cover the same material, but higher-level classes may delve deeper into some of the covered topics or include topics that are beyond the scope of a standard-level class. For example, Language A: Literature at the standard level covers 10 literary works, while the higher level covers 13.

In addition to taking classes from the six core subjects, students are also required to complete three other requirements:

  • The Theory of Knowledge (TOK) is a course that requires students to reflect on what it really means to learn, how we as a human race learn, and how we know what we know. It culminates in a verbal presentation and a 1,600-word essay.
  • The Extended Essay is a 4,000-word essay on a self-directed research project. Students have the freedom to choose a topic that interests them, provided it is related to one of the six core subject areas.
  • Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) is required but not graded. Students perform a variety of projects involving creative thinking, physical activity, and/or volunteer service. The IB curriculum intends for students to develop both inside and outside of school.

At the end of the school year students are subject to an exam period, during which they are tested over everything they’ve learned in each of their IB classes.

Exams are graded from 1 to 7, and exam grades for classes in the same subject area are averaged so that at the end of exams, students have a score ranging from 1-7 for each of the six subjects. These are added together to give an overall IB score. The TOK and the Extended Essay may add a combined 3 points to a student’s total score. The highest possible IB diploma score is 45, but students who earn at least 24 points, do not have any failing scores, complete the entire curriculum, and meet other eligibility requirements are granted an IB diploma. A score of 1 is a failing score; students with a 1 in any subject will not earn an IB diploma.

Does it make any difference in terms of university entrance?

The key element in a university application, is for the admissions tutor to be able to assess the level of academic attainment that the applicant has achieved to ensure that the university’s minimum criteria are met in the appropriate areas for a particular course of study.

The admissions tutor will also be seeking to understand how the applicant has grown in a wider sense and his or her developing attitudes towards independent learning, social responsibility, team work etc.

The beauty of the IB Diploma is that it covers all of these aspects and offers credit for them against clearly stated criteria for success in obtaining the diploma. Some argue that the IB Diploma requires the student to develop a stronger sense of time-management which is also considered good preparation for university study.

You can’t go past the most obvious point in the IB’s favour – the international aspect.

The IB Diploma Program is recognised by all leading universities, which instantly puts you on the world stage and contextualises your application.

Regardless of where you sit your IB exams, the results mean the same thing, and they’re understood by admissions officers.

However, it’s important to understand that recognition doesn’t necessary equate to value. and IB means more to US universities than it does to UK universities, so how much this “pro” weighs for you will depend on where you want to study.

University Entrance – the dreaded personal statement

The personal statement is a crucial part of university applications in the UK. It’s your chance to show what makes you unique, besides your birth name and UCAS ID. In just 4,000 characters you have to convince your chosen university that you are the best applicant, and that they should make you an offer immediately. These 4,000 characters are your only chance, so your personal statement needs to be good. Really good. Here are some tips on how to write a truly outstanding piece. At the end you should have said why you want to study this course, what led you to this decision and your achievements to date that evidence you as an achiever, team player and above all completer. (Remember the universities in the UK only get all their Government funding on your place if you actually complete the course and graduate). So where do you start?

1. Make a draft without a character counter.

Write freely, do not worry about the character counter, you are doing a draft and you will delete a lot of words and ideas on the second draft.

2. Take your time.

Do not rush it. A superb personal statement will not be ready in a couple of hours. Or even a couple of days. It took is likely to take more than a month to complete the best version. Sometimes it’s worth taking a break for a few days, then coming back to it afresh.

3. Find the perfect words and expressions.

It sounds more professional and elegant if you use ‘accomplish’ rather than ‘do’, or ‘presume’ rather than ‘think’, but try not to use too many fancy words as this could make your statement sound overdone and it will be difficult to read.

4. Concentrate on your strengths.

In these 4,000 characters you are trying to sell yourself to the university. A perfect product proposer is all about how great that thing is, and it’s the same with your personal statement. You should write about your experiences, your knowledge and your future plans. You should NOT write, “I wanted to learn Spanish but I gave it up after a week” or “I am not very good at maths, but I think this is understandable since I hate it so much.”

5. Find the perfect opening sentence.

Try starting with something interesting, unusual or surprising as will give a good first impression and make the admissions team want to read more as well as make it stand out. Just make sure it is relevant. You may be an award winner in some discipline and that is great, it might not be relevant to your course, but it will still show that you commit and work hard.

6. Make it your own work, voice and ideas.

Try not to read any other personal statements before writing the first few drafts of yours. It will simply give you a false idea. You are most definitely unique, and it is worthless to follow some set rules or patterns, or someone else’s ideas. After all, this is about you, not somebody else.

7. Be honest.

Do not write that you are fluent in Spanish if you can only say “I love you” in Spanish. Do not write that you are good at problem-solving if your sole example is a trick of carrying five bottles in one hand. If you are good, you are good the way you are. There is no need to create a false image, and indeed the truth will always come out sooner or later.

8. Get someone to proofread your statement.

Your parents, your teachers, your friends, your enemies… The more people you show it to, the more feedback you will get, and the better the final version will be. Of course, some advice will be better and some less so, but it is easier to ask many people first, and differentiate later.

9. Read it out loud many times.

It helped me a lot when I read my personal statement out to my family and friends. When you are writing it sentence by sentence, you might not realize that there is no cohesion between your paragraphs. But when you read it out, all the vague parts will magically appear, so you can correct them.

10. Once you submit your university application, stop reading it!

Waiting to hear from universities is the worst part of the whole process (even worse than completing the application form…). After you get the offer you wanted (which you will surely get!), you will know that your application was just perfect the way you sent it.

To sum up, be yourself and write honestly about your experiences. Use your own voice, because that is who you are, and the universities you are interested in. Most schools and many independent organisations will help you.

Entrance Exams

Expert tips for entrance exam success

Applying to a new school that is educationally selective is daunting for parents and students. Always be careful to balance the pressure you put on your child, also please remember that while tutoring a child will ensure they have much needed exam skills and that they have brushed up on all areas of the curriculum, it does not mean they will be accepted and it does not make it the right school for your child.

1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Thoroughly research the schools you are applying to. Each school will have a slightly different entrance process and expectation. Most will test English and maths; many will also test reasoning (verbal, non-verbal or both).

Some will hold assessment days, which can come before or after the written exams, or even on the same day. Others will have a more formal interview process whilst some schools will base their decision entirely on the written exam.

Check registration deadlines and know when you have to apply you can usually do this on the school’s website. You may find that two schools that you are interested in hold their exams on the same day. In this case, get in touch with both schools to see if alternative arrangements can be made for your child to sit the exam. If that’s not possible, you will have to choose which school you prefer, as your child won’t be able to sit for both (And you don’t want to end up paying for two sets of registration fees unnecessarily!).

Check exam registration deadlines and know when, where & how you have to apply.

2. USE THE LITTLE & OFTEN APPROACH

When it comes to preparation, we recommend that you start in good time. In our experience, a ‘good’ time is usually one year in advance. However, this can vary from child to child. You may have to revisit certain topics again and again, and at different times during the year. Learning is not linear. Most children benefit from revisiting areas that they might have struggled with earlier. By taking time to gently reinforce, you will be building solid foundations without even realising it! It also ensures consistency and maintenance of the skills they have acquired.

If possible, try and avoid a sudden last minute dash in the final months leading up to the exams. This can create unnecessary pressure and tension for all the family. If this can’t be avoided, still try the little and often approach, breaking down areas of learning into bite-size chunks.

3. MIX IT UP AND KEEP IT FRESH

Similar to the principle of keeping things in manageable segments, it is important to introduce variety. For 7+ or 8+ maths for example, this could mean combining a traditional approach to learning times tables, with some written practice papers for application. Online games and apps can also be useful ways to introduce learning in an interactive yet equally beneficial way.

Practising exam questions is an essential part of the process but there are plenty of other ways to make the experience fun, engaging and interesting for children!

4. IDENTIFY THE GAPS

Strategically speaking, the exam preparation process is all about identifying gaps and addressing them. Your child may be in a school which prepares for entrance exams; therefore your current school will be addressing many of these issues. However, if you are unsure, ask your child’s teacher about the process, your child’s current level, and how they are coping.

If you are in a school that does not prepare its students for exams, or you feel your little one needs additional support, then you may need to start with a professional assessment to know which areas to target.

We work with many of children across this age group and are able to benchmark your child’s performance and give an opinion based on our professional experience of the children we have seen and supported. A Tutor assessment from us will give you a good indication of where your child currently sits, their strengths and weaknesses, and areas which need work. As well as an academic assessment, we also take into consideration a child’s approach to learning, their attitude and personality, in order to provide you with pointers on all areas that a school will ultimately be assessing.

5. SUPPORT YOUR CHILD

Try to get your children into a routine, so they know when they have to work and when they can relax.

Working with your child outside of school is important as it reinforces their formal learning and can positively extend and challenge them. It shows them that you are interested in their learning and support them. This must be kept in balance. The learning process then becomes more mindful. If you feel that you would like external support then engaging the services of a tutor for dedicated one on one support can really help. A good tutor will establish a productive teacher/pupil relationship, which sometimes a parent is unable to do, just by virtue of the fact they’re ‘mum’ or ‘dad’.

Tutors can also help if your child is struggling with a particular area or topic. One-on-one time can be used to explain topics more fully, and allow for targeted practice. For example, in maths, many children find fractions, algebra and multiple-step problems hard; whist in English, inference questions in comprehension papers and creative writing can prove challenging. This is not unusual! Mastering tricky areas like these can be where one-on-one tutoring can really help.

6. USE PRACTICE PAPERS

It is essential that you introduce your child to practice papers at the right time for them. Our specialist practice papers are a great resource, and you can choose how and when you use them. You can tackle them in sections to get to grips with certain disciplines, or you can use them as full timed ‘mock’ papers as a diagnostic, or to simply familiarise your child with the actual exam process.

In terms of timing, we recommend taking a first look during the summer preceding the exams and maybe doing a few questions to get a feel for the format and an understanding of the expected level. A whole paper in one sitting might be too overwhelming at first, but you will get a feel for what your child can accomplish. It is essential however, that your child knows what to expect, so they should be doing full papers on a regular basis and under timed conditions in the build-up to the exams.

First Day Fears

Starting school can be exciting for young kids. It can also be scary. That’s true whether this is their first time going to school or they’re starting a new grade. And the change in routine can be very challenging for some kids. This year may be challenging for even more kids as they return to in-person school after a long time away from it.

What do young kids get most anxious about when it comes to starting school?

Kids can get anxious about lots of different things. It’s actually not uncommon at all, especially for kids with learning and thinking differences. Some kids’ are anxious about not going to see their summer friends as often. This means they’re going to have to re-establish connections with school friends which understandably many children stress about.

For some kids, the idea of taking the bus can also be an issue. For others, the prospect of meeting new teachers, particularly if they were attached to their previous class teacher and this is a real concern for your child. Still other kids might get anxious about whether or not they’ll have all the right clothes and supplies for school.

Most young children are creatures of habit and thrive on routines and schedules. Starting school changes what they’ve come to expect with their predictable lifestyle.

They may feel insecure about the school and classroom environments. There may be some who are anxious about something as simple as eating lunch at school or using a bathroom that they’re not familiar with.

How can I tell if my child is experiencing anxiety about starting school?

Many kids have a hard time recognizing when they’re anxious and putting those feelings into words. But your child’s behavior will give you hints. Learn to watch and recognize when your child seems out of sorts. Notice if your child is having trouble sleeping or seems more irritated by small things, or if you see any changes at mealtimes.

When they’re scared or nervous, they may actually feel sick or behave in ways that are not typical for them. That may be how they tell you something is bothering them.

Kids may verbalize their fears with questions that seek assurance. For example, some may ask, “Are you going to be able to stay with me?” “Will my teacher like me?” “Will I make friends?”

It’s also common to see physical symptoms of anxiety. Your child may have a stomachache, usually in the morning before school or in the evening before going to bed.

After the first month of school, your child should be less nervous and more comfortable with the school routine. However, if after a month your child still has intense anxiety about school, you may want to seek additional help and most schools have counsellors who will signpost you in how to handle this.

What can I say to help my child feel less anxious?

When talking about starting school, reassure your child that school is a fun and safe space. Offer a reminder that your child will get to meet new friends and participate in fun games and activities.

If possible, plan a visit to the school with your child. It can be helpful to take pictures of the school and classroom, as well as the adults your child will work with. You can show the pictures in the days and weeks leading up to school to help familiarize your child with this new environment.

Remember that kids can feed off of parents’ anxiety. Do your best to be calm and routine when preparing for back to school. Don’t make a big deal out of it.

Sometimes it’s helpful to talk about starting school. For instance, you can say things like: “I was talking to your friend’s mom, and she mentioned that your friend is looking forward to seeing you at school.”

But rather than talking, often it’s even more helpful to actually do things that can lessen anxiety. Make a checklist of things your child needs to have for the start of school. Together, you can check off each item as your child gets it to show progress. Plan a few upcoming weekend activities with summer friends or family for the first few weeks of school. Let your child know that the end of summer doesn’t mean the end of fun.

Let your child know that it’s normal to feel anxious about starting school. Acknowledging fears can be helpful. For example, you can try saying, “You may be feeling nervous or scared about starting school, and that’s OK. You can get through it, and I’m here to help.”

Reaching out to friends who may be in the same class and setting up playdates  prior to school starting can also help ease worries.