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What is the ISEB Pretest? The format explained

Entry to schools used to be relative easy: register, interview, get an offer, sit Common Entrance and start in September. All has changed.

Why?

Simple: the sheer numbers of students applying to UK schools has increased dramatically and schools have elected to use pre-tests in order to identify applicants who will be able to thrive in their classrooms.

So what does the pre-test consist of?

The test is taken online and there are four sections:

Maths (50 mins)
English (25 mins)
Non-Verbal reasoning (32 mins)
Verbal reasoning (36 mins)

Students may take breaks between sections but, once started, the test cannot be paused. A timer at the top of the screen shows the student how much time remains and there is an indicator at the bottom of the screen showing which question number the student is on and how many he/she has left to answer.

Results go straight to the school(s). One of the joys of this system is that you beleagured son/daughter will not have to sit numerous tests: one test can be …
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Time running away? Practising for the ISEB Pre-test

One of the challenges a number of our children appear to be encountering when they are taking the ISEB and other pretests is runnning out of time.

The maths section in particular can present problems as students try to extract the problem from the test.

Try this:

Give you child a sheet of word-based maths problems (e.g. three boys bought a six litre bottle of orange squash which they divided equally amongst them, how much did each boy receive?) and ask your child to write out the resultant sum.

As your child becomes faster, increase the complexity of the arithmatic.

Include: fractions, percentages, measurements.

Allocate time to completing the sheet.

Use a large kitchen timer which rings when "time is up" so your child gets used to working to time constraints. Talk to them about how they are going to be dividing his time.

You can use the timer technique are you practice verbal/non-verbal reasoning.

A children's guide to the orchestra...

The HK Philharmonic performance of Siegfried this weekend was marvellous; we are seriously fortunate to have a world-class orchestra on our doorstep and to be able to attend their concerts without having to sell an organ to pay for the tickets!

Enhancing the performance was my pleasure at seeing a number of extremely well behaved children in attendance. Watching their delight as the story developed added to my joy. One little boy, sitting up in the gods, had a wonderful time nodding his head in time with the crashes of Mime's anvil at the end of the first act. At no point did any of the children distract those around them. Wagner can be complex for adults and sitting reasonably still in order to listen to four hours' worth of music is a task many of us in the audience found a challenge. The parents who had decided to bring their offspring had clearly thought carefully about their decision.

I was extremely fortunate to be able to attend concerts as a child and the habit has rem…

HKSMSA Speech festival? Don't worry: Help is at Hand!

The best advice I ever received about competitions was from a racing driver! "Don't focus on winning, focus on developing your talent; treat every race like another practice session. If you win, great! If you don't, you learn from your mistakes."

Brilliant advice and something that parents can keep in mind when helping their student prepare for the speech festivals. Remember: there is only one winner but every participant can learn from the experience.

When you first get the poem, read it through together and work out what the story of your piece is. Have your child retell the story to you, using their own words, so you can help them to really understand what tone the poem needs.

The most important step in your preparation is helping your child to memorise their poem. Once they know it upside down and back to front, now you can start to add colour. Think of adding variation in volume, pitch, pace and don't forget facial expressions. If the latter are elusive, try…

Testing for a test! The world of the ISEB Pre-Tests (and others!)

School entry used to be relatively straightforward: apply, interview, take a couple of exams and join. No longer... welcome to the world of the pre-test.

Why have pre-tests become so prevalent? A couple of reasons: firstly, the increase in applications to UK schools has put already over-worked admissions departments under incredible strain and pre-tests represent a way of filtering students and reducing the number to a manageable size. More importantly though, schools say that they do not want candidates who have no chance of gaining a place going through the stress of an application. Sounds fair enough...

There are a number of pre-tests but I am going to focus on the ISEB pre-test as has been adopted by a number of big schools (Eton, Radley, Wellington, Westminster amongst others) and is therefore a hot topic amongst our parents.

What is the ISEB Pre-test?

The test consists of four sections:

English (25 minutes)
Maths (50 minutes)
Verbal (36 minutes)
Non-Verbal reasoning (32 minutes)

Testing for a test! The world of the ISEB (and other) pre-tests

School entry used to be relatively straightforward: apply, interview, take a couple of exams and join. No longer... welcome to the world of the pre-test.

Why have pre-tests become so prevalent? A couple of reasons: firstly, the increase in applications to UK schools has put already over-worked admissions departments under incredible strain and pre-tests represent a way of filtering students and reducing the number to a manageable size. More importantly though, schools say that they do not want candidates who have no chance of gaining a place going through the stress of an application. Sounds fair enough...

There are a number of pre-tests but I am going to focus on the ISEB pre-test as has been adopted by a number of big schools (Eton, Radley, Wellington, Westminster amongst others) and is therefore a hot topic amongst our parents.

What is the ISEB Pre-test?

The test consists of four sections:

English (25 minutes)
Maths (50 minutes)
Verbal (36 minutes)
Non-Verbal reasoning (32 minutes)

Duke TIP - An incredible way to spend the summer for gifted students

Imagine 70 students between the ages of 13 - 18 coming together to study, make friends and, maybe for the first time in their lives, share an environment where they are appreciated and engineering,

Imagine no more, I gave just returned from  a month in Kunshan this July as Academic Coordinator for the Duke University TIP programme where I witnessed an incredible transformation in our students as they studied cryptology, writing, entrepreneurship, biotechnology, international relations and engineering. The course is aimed at gifted students and it was Duke's research in this area which first led me to want to be involved in the programme.

Teaching was inspirational; experiential and thoughtful. Over and above the learning which took place within the classroom, it was fascinating and inspiring to watch the way that students engaged with and respected each other. Gifted learners are often very isolated in their academic settings and being able to find a peer group with shared abiliti…