Test day

And so the day arrived. The day we’d been building up to for months – grammar school entrance exam day. I hadn’t pushed my son hard – just a bit of extra work every few days to keep him ticking over. I didn’t want him to feel under too much pressure.

All that week I’d been waking up even earlier than usual – with anxiety dreams about arriving late. I’d been waking up soon after falling asleep too. I lost count of the number of times I’d visualised the moment of dropping him off for the exam – at the gate because parents aren’t allowed inside. I was fed up of seeing that picture in my mind’s eye. I just wanted it over and done with.

I tried to encourage him to do 20 minutes work a day after school for the last week before his test. But he’d finished his maths book and his verbal reasoning book. There was only his comprehension book left – his weakest subject and the one he likes least. The one he needs to focus on most. Two days before the test he refused to do it and then he cried. This was exactly what I wanted to avoid. We’d put him under no pressure and I hoped he hadn’t felt any. He didn’t do comprehension that day or the next. There was no point. What would he actually gain from it? He had a lot more to lose if he started getting upset.

I felt ready to crumble then too. I wanted to go to sleep and not wake up until it was over – or maybe stay awake for the entire time until it was over. Because it was so close, only 36 hours. I could do that if I wanted to. I wasn’t sure how I would make it through the next day and into test day. But I did. It was all fine and my son was fine.

On test day he got up pretty early, but he’d slept well. He chatted to me at the table and didn’t pick up the Kindle to play games for at least 20 minutes. My son doesn’t chat in the mornings and, whatever I say to him to try to stop him, he always plays games on the Kindle as he eats. He was clearly nervous, but it was a nice nervous, a happy nervous. More like adrenaline, the sort of thing you can use to your advantage to help you perform at your best.

And then we drove up to the school. I’d read and re-read the instructions about driving and parking – not to turn right into the road by the school, no parking at the school etc etc. My husband dropped us off and I made that final walk with my son. It wasn’t how I’d pictured it, because we were allowed into the school grounds, just not into the room.

I’d heard there were 1,500 kids sitting the exam at that school alone, so many that they would have police there to direct the traffic. There were more kids sitting the test at other grammar schools around the county. All for little more than a handful of places. And it made me nervous. All of his life I’ve known that school was my son’s destiny. But what if it isn’t? That school is local to us – it’s actually nearer than my eldest’s comprehensive (the comprehensive that’s the local school for our village) – yet kids travel from Bristol, Oxfordshire and Swindon just to go there. Our local school. The school that my son belongs at.

The streams of people coming in weren’t dis-similar to the crowds going to a concert or football match. There were that many of them. There were kids from school, kids from rugby, old colleagues and their kids. It felt like every year 6 from miles around was there. Some of them were the ‘let’s give it a go and see what happens’ brigade – the middle ability kids just taking a chance to see if they get lucky on the day. Seeing that, and realising many of them don’t have the ability to get in, made me feel more relaxed about the sheer number of kids.

I tried to give my son a kiss and he wriggled away from me – my son only allows me to kiss him in the morning and at night. I haven’t been ‘allowed’ to kiss him at school for years, probably since year 1. I said ‘good luck’ and shouted ‘I love you’ because I do. I wanted that to be the last thing he heard before he went in. But it was also kind of a joke because I knew it would make him squirm and maybe that would make him feel more relaxed.

And then he was gone. And I just had to go home and kill three and a half hours…

Entrance exam, Son, Secondary school, 365

Author: Sarah Mummy

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22 Comments

    • Thanks very much. We hear in a month! We just get his test results so we can make an informed choice when we choose his school place. Could be a long month…

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  1. I think you had exactly the right attitude. Its almost impossible for the kids not to get caught up in the hype & stress of it all around here (I’m Glos too). You were encouraging, he gave it his best shot without becoming consumed; this is the best way IMO. Sending you internet hugs because I totally understand the stress. Wherever he goes, it’s parental interest & encouragement that has the biggest impact on success. He’ll do just fine x

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    • Thanks very much, that’s so reassuring to hear. Nice to hear from someone who knows what it’s like round here! (I hadn’t realised you were round here though, although I knew you did the invigilating!)

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  2. Oh gosh what a morning but a huge well done to him and to you all for getting through it. It doesn’t sound easy but I think you all handled it the perfect way on the day. Now you have to try not to think about it till results time. Impossible I know 🙂 sending you hugs x

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    • Thanks very much. I definitely feel more relaxed now it’s over! x

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  3. We’ve tentatively started talking about the possibility of our daughter trying for grammar school. I can’t say it’s something I’m very keen on, but at the moment I think it’s a good chance to get an all round education. This may well be us in a couple of years time. Fingers crossed for him.

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    • Thanks very much. It’ll be us again in a couple of years as our daughter is in year 6. It is good for an all-round education if you have one locally.

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  4. Wow, what a stressful situation to be in. I felt the same with Ally doing his GCSEs before the summer, I wanted to make sure he was doing the work without forcing him. I think you handled the situation, I hope all goes well and you get the result you’re hoping for! Dropping by from What’s the Story.

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    • Thanks very much. I can’t imagine how stressful GCSEs will be! We’ll have those in three years.

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  5. Well done. Now you can rest in the knowledge that you did everything you possibly could to get him there. And you didn’t push which I think many, many parents do. What will be will be. Sounds like the kind of child who will do exceptionally well wherever he goes. My son is already refusing to do the papers – doesn’t bode well! X

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    • Oh dear, not a good sign! That’s why I didn’t even put my eldest through it. He’s not as bright and would have had to be pushed and he’s really not interested in education, so it would have been a nightmare!

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  6. It sounds like you had the right attitude; encouraging without putting him under pressure. I have my fingers crossed for you all, he does sound like a very bright child! x

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    • Thanks very much! x

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  7. It sounds like you’ve approached this in just the right way. Lots of luck to your son, having read about him before in your posts, I’m sure he’ll be fine, and you’ve all done everything you can x #MagicMoments

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  8. Gosh – there’s so much pressure! I’m sure you’ve done a fab job at preparing him xxx It’s crazy – I remember vividly doing my 12plus exam, and how nervous I was!

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    • Thanks very much. I think we got it right for him – a gentle push, but no real pressure. I never did the exam, so didn’t have the worry at such a young age. x

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  9. Sounds like he was very well prepared!!! He will do great! Let us all know. Way to go you for helping him prepare well too! That will show. thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

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    • Not until 13th October! Still quite a wait!

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