I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous about my daughter sitting the grammar school entrance exam. I think most parents are. It wasn’t about the questions. What would be would be on that front. If they were too hard and she wasn’t able to answer them, that would be a fair assessment of her abilities and she wouldn’t be good enough for grammar school.
But she had worked hard in the run-up to the test, doing some of her practise books most days. Some days she would get close to 100%, other days she would only just manage 50%. She is good at spelling and grammar and her comprehension has improved massively, but her vocabulary isn’t great. Her maths is good on the whole, with a few weaker areas and she is amazing at non-verbal reasoning.
She had a few wobbles on the bad days, where she thought she wasn’t good enough. But in the week she’d been back at school, she’d done SATs practise. She’d worked fast and she’d got high marks, the best in the class. It had reminded her that she is a clever girl, even if she did sometimes have a bad day withe her practise books.
My fear was about how she would react to the test. On the one hand, she is a girl who takes things in her stride. She didn’t get remotely nervous about the panto and she has never worried about dance shows or ballet exams. On the other hand, she is a child who struggles to sleep and worries about it. The additional worry of a grammar school test – the exam that will decide the next seven years of her life – could make her seriously unable to sleep. A tired, stressed-out child is never going to do her best in an exam.
On the night before the test, she was asleep by 10.30. My sister gasped in horror at this, but actually I was pleased. 10.30 is a pretty standard time for her to get to sleep. I was envisaging an 11.30, with her getting increasingly stressed about both the exam and her sleep.
She woke just before 6, which is unheard of and an hour earlier than I would have liked, but I was pleased she’d had enough sleep. Her mood was slightly nervous and slightly excited, but nothing too far out of the norm.
And when I dropped her off at the school in the pouring rain with around a thousand other children, she was calm and happy.
None of my fears had come true.
It felt like a long wait until I saw her again, but when she came out, she was smiling and happy.
The test hadn’t been as hard as she’d feared. It hadn’t been as hard as the books she’d been practising in at home (despite the fact that they are for the exact exam she had sat).
She had missed a small number of questions out, which we were slightly disappointed at as we had told her to always answer something. But she’d run out of time. She wouldn’t have been the only one.
She had felt so relaxed in the environment, surrounded by her own friends from school, that she had felt confident enough to ask the teacher supervising her room if he knew her brother (he did). This is the child who is always shy about speaking to adults and will always let a parent or brother answer for her, even if it is someone she knows.
I was just so pleased to see her happy and feeling that she’d done well. There’s always the fear that they’re going to come out crying and upset. She thinks she should have done enough to get into the girls’ grammar school, which is where I’ve always thought she would go. I really hope she’s right. We will find out in about a month.
Whatever the result, I’m proud of my girl for her hard work and commitment. She has given herself the very best chance of getting to grammar school.