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Author Topic: Last minute tips for the selective school exams  (Read 60821 times)  Share 

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pi

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Last minute tips for the selective school exams
« on: June 09, 2014, 10:28:29 pm »
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So among all the chaos on the #atarnotes chat-room in which there were existing discussion regarding pokemon and physics already happening a chat was attempted on a new channel #selectiveschools, although it seems the message didn't get across too well and it was a bit of a shambles.

Here are some last minute tips and things you can do to improve in the short space ahead, a few things that I'm sure would have come out of the aforementioned chat if time and organisation persisted. This was written regarding the Year 8 exams but I'm sure it has some relevance to other selective school and scholarship exams too. Also, I guess it's applicable as non-last minute tips too, for the candidate who still has some months to go to ensure adequate preparation (my opinion, many people do more or less prep and make it through). 

Last minute tips for the selective school exams
pi

It looks like many of you have attended a prep course (JAC, Hendersons, etc.) and have smashed out some Jim Coroneos Publication (such as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7) material, but if you haven't (or have) MAKE SURE you've had a go at the official prac papers or even the NSW Year 7 Selective School paper for added practice. You don't need to have studied a lot to pass these exams, but many applicants have and you don't want to start from behind the pack if you can help it.

Persuasive writing* - Have a structure and keep it very simple so it's easy to remember. You shouldn't need more than 4-5 paragraphs in all to concisely convey your argument. Personally I had something like this going back in the day:

Intro (3 lines)
What is the issue?
Where is the problem? How is it a problem?
Why is there a need to fix it? How can we approach the issue?
Conclusion (2-3 lines)

You may have your own structure (if you do and if it's working, stick by it and don't change it on my behalf!), just make sure it's structured. Examiners look for your ideas and your structure of how your ideas flow. It's also easier to organise your thoughts in the quick 15mins. My topic was "Should we ban violent video games", can you confidently write a structured piece on that right now?

Always good to provide the point of view of the opposite side (if the topic is open and suggests this - but make it clear as to what your contention is and only present the other side if you're going to rebut it down) in the introduction and also in the body of your essay as it shows you've thought deeply about the topic. If you want to write a rebuttal para (I didn't) here is a sample structure for that:
Structure:
"Some/one might/may suggest that <problem from other side>"
"However, this is not true because/research suggests/the reality is/the issue with this is that <your rebuttal to that point>"
"Hence this is an invalid point to make / further affirming the stance that <your contention>"

Example, topic: "We should have single sex schools"
Some may suggest that if all schooling was single sex, there would be inherent and somewhat awkward social interactions between both genders, resulting in a situation that is not favourable for future family and working life. However, the issue with that is that school only encompasses a mere six hours out of a possible twenty-four in a day and also a mere thirty-odd weeks in the year, leaving a substantial amount of time left open to socialise with the opposite sex, not including the combined-gender social events for schools as aforementioned in this essay. Hence, this is an invalid point to make as it is not justified well by the reality of the proposed situation.

Another point is on statistics, you don't need them to write a good essay. No one is expecting you to have all these random statistics memorised, so unless you know it's true, don't quote it. Never make up stats.


Verbal reasoning - This one can't really be helped at this stage, it's something you need have builded upon from being an avid reader throughout junior school. However, there are some strategies still in play. Look at your multiple choice options: if there are a few that are synonymous then they're not the answer; if there are some big words you've never heard of it's probably not the right answer. It's a tough section (for me anyway) but keep calm and if you have no idea make an educated guess and move on to the next one. Between now and the exam maybe have a relaxing look through some word lists, practice your analogies or do some vocab tests. You might even want to have a go at a verbal reasoning paper. I remember two words that asked for the definition of back in my day were "jihad" and "segue" (do you know what they mean?), it's quite random.


Numerical reasoning - If you're stuck, write down what you have. Whether that be giving letters to names (ie. algebra), writing out the alphabet, or drawing out patterns. Writing or drawing something helps you think, keeps your mind ticking 100% of the time. If you have a pattern, go through your operations (+, -, x, /) but also think about alternating patterns (every second number) at the same time, think about squared numbers. If you have no idea after about a minute, guess it and move on. This is a skill which may come naturally to some, but can be learnt and developed as well using some of the aforementioned prep courses and/or books, the first few pages here are a nice read for some basic strategies.


Maths - Much the same as above, drawing things out can be great. Between now and the exam have a look over your basic maths. Can you solve linear equations with ease? Can you calculate volumes and areas of shapes? Can you do multiplication of big numbers quickly? Do you understand simple and compound interest? Are you confident with dealing with percentages? Do you know what SOH CAH TOA is? Do you know Pythagoras' Theorem? Do you know your indices (x0 = 1, remember that!)? You should have these Year 9 maths concepts in the bag through your preparation or schooling. Remember: it may be faster to use trial and error (ie. using the answers they give and working backwards from the question to find the correct solution) rather than solving out a question, keep that in mind if you think it's going to be a long solve.


Reading comp - I liked to read the questions and then read the passage. When reading, look for the key words mentioned in the question. If the passage is too complex for you, guess it and move on with the aim to revisit it later. I did this with poems as I hate/hated them. Again a lot of this skill comes back to how much you read as a kid. Another part of this exam is focused on grammar and punctuation. Do you the difference between a noun vs pronoun vs verb vs adverb vs preposition etc? Do you when to use semi-colons and commas? Might be worth reviewing basic grammar and punctuation.

If you're really really worried it might be worthwhile having a look at trying some yr9 ICAS papers (no idea how much they cost) or trying these tests out but I don't think it'll help much with only a few days to go. Unlike maths, you can't work miracles with English tests in just a few days or weeks, it takes months or even years to build your skills up (including speed reading).


Creative writing* - Plan what your story is inside your head, keep it simple while addressing what you have in front of you. Never use things like "it was all a dream" and that nonsense, and never copy the story out of a video-game or existing novel, you never know who is reading your story. You don't need to title your piece (I didn't and got a "superior"), so don't get stressed out about it. Mine was something like "the day in the life of a bee" and I killed my bee off, you /can/ do that if it flows. If you have images, this is good advice:
A tip would be to try to sound deep, whether it really is or not is irrelevant, but making your creative piece sound deep makes it stand out from the crowd, and more often than not in a good way. Try to maintain some sort of storyline to your story, but seriously in 15 mins, having a fully fledged story is perhaps implausible. Pick one scene (or two if you can fit it) and do a sort of internal monologue or profound spiel on it. Like Water said, make the images symbolize something, and it doesn't really matter if it's a bit far-fetched, as long as it carves out a good impression of your essay. To complement your 'spiel', add a lot of nifty details and describe them. If you're walking along a street in a cold winter day, then do some sort of specified description on the wind or how your cloak is billowing or something. I probably didn't put it properly and it probably doesn't fit your writing style, but it eliminates the need for any real extensive thinking, whilst still maintaining a sort of 'wow factor' to your piece.

*For writing tasks you want to maximise your score, so don't use any slang, any swearing, any abbreviations, any contracted verbs, any numbers like "9" (write it as "nine" unless it's a large number like 2014 or something), and it's always best to try and write in 3rd person (unless the topic is suggesting otherwise for the creative part - you never write "I think" for anything persuasive as they already know that's what you think given you're writing it). Another tip applicable to both is to not spend more than a minute planning, spend as much time as possible WRITING, that's what counts.


The day before the exam
- Have all your pens, pencils etc (there should be a checklist like below! READ IT and bring everything) ready the night before, know when the exam is and try and get there early, bring an ANALOGUE watch, the official list is:
Quote from: http://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/parents/secondary/Pages/exam.aspx
Your child should bring the following items to the examination:
- the exam ID number supplied by the Department. You will receive this ID about one week before the test day
- photo ID
- two 2B or 4B pencils, a sharpener and an eraser. A blue or black biro is optional for the writing tasks
- a snack and drink for the break.

You child is not allowed to bring the following items to the examination: mobile phones, digital watches, pencil cases, rulers, scrap paper, calculators, dictionaries, bags.
- Don't study this day, take the night off and watch a movie or something, keep relaxed
- Get a good night's sleep before the exam, it'll do wonders especially if you're waking up earlier than usual


On the day and examination technique
- Double and triple check to make sure you have everything they've told you to bring, make sure you don't just check but also bring it!
- If they still hold the exam in the Royal Exhibition Building, it will be cold so rug up! If you have a runny nose, ask for some tissues!
- Stay away from nervous people, they'll make you nervous, it's like a contagious disease and no-one wants a disease
- Bring some water with you to the exam but leave it on the ground, you do not want to drop it all over your work by accident (it does happen)
- When you get into the exam hall and if your table is wonky or you can't see the clock or something, LET THE SUPERVISORS KNOW before the start as they can help you get a new seat or fix up the table or something.
- Fill in your answer sheet, NOT the question booklet (unless the instructions say otherwise, ALWAYS go with the exam instructions!)
- If you are running out of time, don't guess randomly, best to guess "all B" or something, it's likely that one of the ones you're guessing will be a B (for example)
- As you may have gathered, I'm a fan of guessing a question if it's taking too long. I say this because the last thing you want to do is end up spending a lot of time on a question you will not get right when you're leaving out the last 5 questions you would have got right to chance with random guessing in the last minute of the exam. Keep an eye on the clock at all times and make sure you attempt the whole paper to the best of your ability.
- Never leave out a question. This includes skipping questions, always fill it out. This is so you don't leave it blank by accident and also so you don't fill in the next answer where that one should have been and then screw up your whole sheet, takes ages to fix up.
- If rubbing a bubble out, rub it out completely!
- If you finish a paper early, go back and check over your answers!
- Keep calm, the fact that you're interested in getting into these schools by coming on a VCE/Uni forum is impressive, you're MILES ahead of everyone else (miles ahead of me at your age and I got in!), take some confidence in that and always remember this if your nerves start taking over on the day

If it doesn't go well for you, don't lose faith in your academic prowess, maybe it wasn't your day. Look at the people of this forum, all of whom are successful, only a handful went to MHS/Mac.Rob/Nossal/JMSS. It's definitely possible to do well elsewhere with the right attitude and appropriate study. Back in my day results came out in August by mail although I think they may use email now.

Good luck!



Feel free to add your own advice below, I'm far from the be-all-and-end-all of such matters, especially as I sat the exam many years ago. Also feel free to post questions below (do not PM me).
« Last Edit: June 13, 2014, 06:49:43 pm by pi »

deerlinas

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Re: Last minute tips for the selective school exams
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2014, 05:19:39 pm »
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Thank you so much, this is really helpful ^^ So basically don't use "I've" or "she'll" or any contracted verbs in our persuasive/creative writing pieces ? Also, do you think we could use "&" instead of "and" if we don't have enough time when writing our creative/analytical piece ? One last question, is it alright to use the words "I", "my", or "you" in our analytical piece ? Thank you so much :) xx

pi

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Re: Last minute tips for the selective school exams
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2014, 05:37:12 pm »
+3
Thank you so much, this is really helpful ^^ So basically don't use "I've" or "she'll" or any contracted verbs in our persuasive/creative writing pieces ?

Yep, try not to use them at all for any writing piece (even when it comes to school/VCE/etc.)! :)

Also, do you think we could use "&" instead of "and" if we don't have enough time when writing our creative/analytical piece ?

Well if you're really in the last minute or so and you have some sentences to come you can resort to this, but try not to otherwise :)

One last question, is it alright to use the words "I", "my", or "you" in our analytical piece ? Thank you so much :) xx

I wouldn't use any pronoun like that in my analytical piece. You can say things like "One might suggest that there is a link between video games and violence, however the reality is that... blah". I would use "one" over I/you. "I" is unnecessary as the examiners already know what you are writing is your opinion and saying "you" is making assumptions about the opinion of the person reading your piece, if that makes sense.

Now worries and best of luck! :)

radicalness123

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Re: Last minute tips for the selective school exams
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2014, 05:54:48 pm »
+1
what to study for maths and how to write analytical at superior level
How many sups for mhs/nossal
Words for the test such as pique and random words
this is for year 8 into year 9 exam

pi

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Re: Last minute tips for the selective school exams
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2014, 06:05:56 pm »
+1
what to study for maths

So for maths I've outlined above some topics that I think are important, including: linear equations and graphs on Cartesian planes, basic quadratics, calculating areas and volumes, dealing with surds, dealing with interest, dealing with money and decimal points, Pythagoras' Theorem, basic trigonometry ratios, basic probability (tree diagrams, Venn diagrams, etc.), and so forth. Most of which can be found in any good Year 9 maths textbook.

how to write analytical at superior level

I've (again) outlined my structure above. What makes a superior piece (in my opinion) is having good ideas, and articulating them with a good structure. Examiners want to see organised and good ideas, I've shown I how used to organise my essays above, the "good ideas" part is entirely up to your own knowledge. Be original but don't be controversial/racist/sexist/ageist. If you have good ideas that flow well in an organised structure in paragraphs, you'll do well for sure. In terms of essay length, I'd aim for 1-2 pages.

How many sups for mhs/nossal

When I sat the exam, "Nossal" didn't exist. I'd say as many sups as you can get, but there's no point getting 4 sups and bombing out on the other two sections, they want well-rounded students. Just try your best and the sups will come if you deserve them. For interests sake, I think I got 5 sups.

I'm kinda disappointed so many people on this forum are worried about "how many sups will I need" and so forth, the reality is that getting a "superior" is a comparison made against everyone else's score for that test. You /can't/ change how everyone else will perform on the day, but you can change how YOU will perform on the day. So focus on doing your best, and as I said, the best will come.

Words for the test such as pique and random words

I can't guarantee that the word "pique" will be on the exam, so sorry about that. It's quite random (as I said in my main post) and going through word lists (as linked above) *may* help, although I feel it's too late to be cramming in new material.

Best of luck! :)
« Last Edit: June 11, 2014, 06:18:29 pm by pi »

Hannibal

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Re: Last minute tips for the selective school exams
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2014, 06:29:04 pm »
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Hey Pi,
In terms of co-curricular for Year 10 entry, I feel like I am a jack of all trades, master of none :(. I debate, play four sports for school, have played two other sports in earlier year levels (Contemplating on joining a club soon), have a little bit of leadership in past year levels, play two instruments and am part of a music ensemble, am part of the community links team, volunteer occasionally and have won a major bursary twice in a state science competition. Even with a few of these things to back me up, I feel like I'm lacking in terms of leadership achievements, and that all the extra things are too shallow... What do you think? Anything I can do before I have to hand in my application, that will give me a bit of a shot? :)

Thanks for your time.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2014, 06:30:37 pm by Hannibal »
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lolface

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Re: Last minute tips for the selective school exams
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2014, 06:40:12 pm »
+1
Thank you so much! I have a lot of confidence now (i know i shouldnt get my hopes up too high) but your info is really useful  ;D
:)

pi

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Re: Last minute tips for the selective school exams
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2014, 06:50:58 pm »
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Hey Pi,
In terms of co-curricular for Year 10 entry, I feel like I am a jack of all trades, master of none :(. I debate, play four sports for school, have played two other sports in earlier year levels (Contemplating on joining a club soon), have a little bit of leadership in past year levels, play two instruments and am part of a music ensemble, am part of the community links team, volunteer occasionally and have won a major bursary twice in a state science competition. Even with a few of these things to back me up, I feel like I'm lacking in terms of leadership achievements, and that all the extra things are too shallow... What do you think? Anything I can do before I have to hand in my application, that will give me a bit of a shot? :)

Thanks for your time.

Hey there, unfortunately I'm not well versed in Year 10 entry schemes, maybe someone like memely who had a few friends get in at this level or miganificent.

Either way, here's my advice. I think you should play to your strengths. My vague understanding of the process if that they want people for Year 10 entry who are strong academically, have leadership skills, and do things outside of school such as sport, music, volunteering etc. Try and milk what you have, use language in your application that may even make these positions bigger than they actually are, flatter yourself and talk yourself up! I'm not sure how to application is structured, but if you're grouping them like "academics", "sport", "music","volunteering" etc then have your best achievements up the top, if you won a Prize in something say how many people entered the competition, make yourself look exceptional. Sorry I can't add much more, but I've really never had much experience with this pathway, best of luck though! :)

Thank you so much! I have a lot of confidence now (i know i shouldnt get my hopes up too high) but your info is really useful  ;D

No worries, best of luck for your entrance into Mac.Rob! :)
« Last Edit: June 11, 2014, 06:54:38 pm by pi »

Novashock

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Re: Last minute tips for the selective school exams
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2014, 04:57:34 pm »
+1
Just wanted to say thanks for all the help the help you've given me. I just wanted to know what are my chances of going if about 7% of our year 8's are going and in the JAC sim test I beat all of them and they repeat their performances. Also forgive me, my tablet is stuffing up, but how you said to not study the day before the exam, to just take it easy? Kinda hard to get that into someone who says that VCE maths questions are coming in the test. And yes my dad said that. Well, atleast I have an excuse to watch the world cup. Thanks again.
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pi

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Re: Last minute tips for the selective school exams
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2014, 05:29:00 pm »
0
Just wanted to say thanks for all the help the help you've given me. I just wanted to know what are my chances of going if about 7% of our year 8's are going and in the JAC sim test I beat all of them and they repeat their performances. Also forgive me, my tablet is stuffing up, but how you said to not study the day before the exam, to just take it easy? Kinda hard to get that into someone who says that VCE maths questions are coming in the test. And yes my dad said that. Well, atleast I have an excuse to watch the world cup. Thanks again.
Novashock

Hi there, no worries!

If you repeat that performance you should be in with a very good chance! :) And yes, take it easy before the exam, watch something on TV or something. There is no VCE maths on the exam (in case you count Further Maths which can be primary school standard at times...) so not sure what your father is on about (no offence to him).

Best of luck! :)

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Re: Last minute tips for the selective school exams
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2014, 08:14:14 pm »
-1
Hi Pi,

I have a few questions I'd like to ask you :D!

For the argumentative writing section, in your introduction is it necessary to include a linking sentence?

Would you know if the people look at your application before or after your results?

I participate in quite a few things in my school such as SRC, debating, Green Team, Library monitor and various sports. Furthermore, I used to play soccer outside of school at an okay level I guess - A- Grade (I quit this year but considering taking it up again). Do you think this would suffice?

What do you think the minimum score required to attend MHS is?

Thank you for taking your time to read this :)

pi

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Re: Last minute tips for the selective school exams
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2014, 08:45:29 pm »
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Hi Pi,

I have a few questions I'd like to ask you :D!

For the argumentative writing section, in your introduction is it necessary to include a linking sentence?

In your intro you should try and lay out the foundation for your essay, it should be in itself a "link" to the rest of your essay. I don't think you need a linking sentence to your first para specifically.


Would you know if the people look at your application before or after your results?

I'd imagine they'd look at them together and proceed from there, although I'm not too sure.


I participate in quite a few things in my school such as SRC, debating, Green Team, Library monitor and various sports. Furthermore, I used to play soccer outside of school at an okay level I guess - A- Grade (I quit this year but considering taking it up again). Do you think this would suffice?

As I said to a user above, play to your strengths! Make sure you have a balance of academics (your test will show that hopefully!) vs leadership vs outside of school things like sport, debating etc. If you can show that balance and show that you're good at those things I think you'll be in a good stead.

What do you think the minimum score required to attend MHS is?

I don't think there is a "minimum" given you have an application, they'll weigh it all up together!

Good luck! :)

Novashock

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Re: Last minute tips for the selective school exams
« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2014, 09:52:04 pm »
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not sure what your father is on about
Best of luck! :)
Thanks dude. He's always like that. The reason my dad wants me to cram is because the first part of the year I was oversees for personal reasons and I started going JAC like 2 months ago. also our school's curriculum is way behind all this, which is why my dad wants me to constantly cram, so I can stand a chance at going into MHS or Suzanne Cory. I also couldn't practice this week cause I have my mid-years, and as I was away the first part of the semester, I had a lot of catching up to do. :( I want to just go there and give it my all, but i'm afraid I won't get in... anyway, i'm just revising the Maths topics you mentioned above  :)
(P.S- for the last 2 hours, i was learning how to do Surds, Do we need to know that?)
Thanks Again, Stay Cool  8)
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pi

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Re: Last minute tips for the selective school exams
« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2014, 09:58:32 pm »
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(P.S- for the last 2 hours, i was learning how to do Surds, Do we need to know that?)

Surds is worth knowing :)

Novashock

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Re: Last minute tips for the selective school exams
« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2014, 10:12:58 pm »
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Surds is worth knowing :)
great, atleast i've been doing something useful with my time.
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