Alice came to BE in May 2019 as a young girl with a love for art and unicorns, a little nervous about the idea of moving to the UK and some challenges with concentration. She is a delightful, smiley person and had ambitions for going to top all girls' schools.
After a trip to the UK she was even more convinced that boarding school life was the one for her, Alice couldn't wait to spend her time making lots of new friends, trying new sports and enjoying the spectacular art facilities at a full time boarding school.
Determine the target
Soon we had decided that Alice was going to apply for Wycombe Abbey, Cheltenham Ladies' College, Downe House and St Mary's Calne for entry into their year 7 in September 2020. To ensure safety we applied for Marlborough entry into year 9 2022 as well.
Given the nature of the year 7 assessment days we knew that we would have Downe House and St Mary's Calne early in Autumn, with Wycombe Abbey a little later and CLC in January of 2020. That meant preparing for interviews, written work, group assessments and online CEM tests including verbal and non-verbal reasoning, maths and English. She had her work cut out for her!
Cheltenham Ladies' College
St Mary's Calne
Discover the specialty
Alice is a creative soul and very much enjoys writing stories and descriptive pieces, sothis was an area that we were able to really encourage with reams of new and exciting literary devices, vocabulary and structures.
This strength of hers would really show through with St Mary's Calne and Cheltenham Ladies' College but Wycombe Abbey doesn't test it and Downe House looks at an English exercise book instead. The most important area here was to work hard on her verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning and maths.
The only way
Verbal reasoning is all about practice and vocabulary learning. We have a specifically compiled vocabulary list made up of key VR words as well as a myriad of other resources and Alice, reluctantly, learnt them all.
This is where we had to boost her motivation. Like lots of young girls she would much rather be playing with friends, painting or reading a book than doing past papers and learning vocabulary but this was and is a hugely important part of the process!
Alice spent a significant amount of time with our maths tutors and Summer working on her maths, which was an area she was weaker in. This was a summer when Alice had to really knuckle down to improve her situation and she did so with aplomb!
During this time we were also working on interview skills, this involved examining the types of questions that come up time and time again, thinking hard about Alice's strengths and weaknesses, making mind maps of areas that work together and how to make sure that Alice could really show her best in a short interview.
Essential here was school research, Alice had to know the schools that she was applying to, what it was about those specific schools that attracted her and how those aspects could play towards her strengths.
Throughout the year I had Alice reading news articles and discussing the issues of the day, this is incredibly important as a child that can talk sensibly about a global crisis or talking point at interview time will really impress registrars. This particularly built up as the assessment days come closer so that Alice had her finger on the pulse.
Towards the destination
So, the day came that we flew to the UK for St Mary's Calne and Downe House, with a lot of last minute preparation, particularly regarding interview and group assessments we dropped Alice of at St Mary's Calne. She was incredibly nervous and had caught a cold on the flight but came out of the day exhilarated and full of positivity about the friends she had made and the fun throughout. Excellent signs indeed.
Most unfortunately the next day she developed a fever and was bed bound for the next few days, we cared for her at the hotel and managed her health. She insisted that she wanted to try to make Downe House but was really too unwell and we had to postpone at the last minute.
On a more positive note we already had a trip booked a month or so later for the Wycombe Abbey assessment day and Marlborough visit, so we were able to have another interview at Downe house rebooked for then.
The Wycombe Abbey assessment day is traditionally attended by a lot of girls and the applicants are incredibly busy throughout. We prepared Alice for debate session with group practice workshops and preparing debate topics. We did last minute VR and NVR papers. We read the news. The big day came and off she went, dropped off at the doors and picked up as the sun was coming down. A cautiously optimistic Alice emerged amongst the throngs of other young hopefuls and off we went to Marlborough.
A lovely walk around the school and more free form interview (since Alice was applying for 13+ here) definitely piqued Alice’s interest. How could it not? Marlborough is an excellent mixed boarding senior school and would be an excellent place for any young person to get an education. Of course, we don’t get any feedback whilst visiting schools, we wait for that to come through later in email format.
Downe House beckoned, second time lucky, into the same charming hotel (this time without the other hopefuls also staying) and the next morning duly arrived for Alice's day at DH. This consisted of tests in the morning followed by an interview with the headmistress, Mrs McKendick. Mrs McKendrick had a long chat with Alice and Alice sparkled in her presence. An excellent day all around.
Waiting for results
Having visited four out of five schools we knew we had a few months to wait until Cheltenham Ladies' College in January. In this time we expected to get responses from schools.
The results came out
First, disappointment. Alice was on the waiting list for St Mary's Calne. This meant we had to wait to see if other girls chose other schools to leave space for Alice. Lots of calming of nerves with this time.
Fortunately, this was soon followed by an offer from Downe House! Elation all around! Alice has a school, and an excellent one at that. Barely had the dust settled and soon an offer from Wycombe Abbey arrived through the web. Now we had a decision to make! After much discussion Alice and her family plumped for Wycombe Abbey.
But CLC was still to come. Papers were to be sat at the BE offices and we had Alice under strict exam conditions for the examinations in verbal reasoning, maths and English. Interview followed and once again we were playing the waiting game. By this point we had told Marlborough that Alice would not be pursuing her application further, no matter how much she liked the school. Soon we had the final letter from CLC.
An offer! Almost a clean sweep for Alice. Well done her!
After more deliberation, the decision was made for Wycombe Abbey. All that was needed know was to pass the common entrance tests. More intense preparation and Alice flew through with flying colours. On to September 2020!
In December we received an email saying that Alice had been bumped up the waiting list to receive an offer for St Mary's Calne. Four offers from four schools. Job well done!
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