Preparing your child to sit the transfer tests

Transfer test tips

There have been widespread conversations regarding the Transfer Test following the Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin’s call to suspend the 2020 exam. This has been rejected by the Education Minister, Peter Weir, stating that there is currently no alternative to the exam.

Some parents are worried that P6 children will be severely disadvantaged due to their restricted time in the classroom. Although I agree that most P6 pupils will suffer a detrimental impact, it is important to note that this affects all P6 children. As a result, the average is likely to be lower this year, resulting in lower scores achieving higher grades. If your child is currently doing practice papers, please do not worry if they are not performing well at this time. The key emphasis at the moment should be on small improvements and building your child’s confidence. We are over 28 weeks away from the confirmed testing date. Assuming your child achieves one or two extra marks in each test (also allowing for off days) their results will slowly start to rise. It is essential to focus on improvements and provide comfort and reassurance for the days your child doesn’t perform well. If you and your child have decided to undertake the test on the 5th of December, my advice would be to ignore the background noise and give your full attention and positivity towards preparation. 

Hopefully, after last week’s column, you will have taken my advice and are now beginning to see the fruits of using timetables and starting each day with reading and exercise. But what next? There is still a long day ahead! I would highly recommend breaking the day up into small, manageable segments. Try spending ten minutes at the beginning of each lesson to ensure that your child understands the activity ahead because they are more likely to get bored and distracted if they aren’t engaged. A lot of parents struggle to understand their children’s school work and there is no shame in this. You have to remember for most of you it has been a long time since you were at school or your child is being taught using new or different methods (especially phonics!). If you identify as one of these parents, do not fear. There is an abundance of online videos explaining most topics, or, feel free to contact me and I will help you in any way I can. 

I would suggest limiting your child’s time on each activity to 45 minutes/1 hour which includes a half-way check in to ensure that they are on task.  An ideal ‘school’ day could look something like this;

  • Reading and exercise for 1 hour
  • Maths 1 hour (15 minutes break)
  • English 1 hour (15 minutes break)
  • Lunch 1 hour
  • Spend the afternoon on creative subjects such as art, music or letting your child explore a topic that they enjoy and creating a project around this.

Last week, I emphasised the importance of reading. However, I never divulged into activities you can do to help improve your child’s reading age. I understand that children are at varying levels and parents may find it difficult to help their child that struggles with reading. One of my suggestions is that you read to them while they follow the text with their finger. If you are trying to juggle numerous tasks such as remote working, homeschooling and running a household, you could alternatively source an age-appropriate audiobook with its matching hardcopy. This will help build your child’s vocabulary and hopefully start to develop a love for reading.

It’s also important to check that your child comprehends what they have just read. This can be easily done by asking them the 5Ws (and H); Who, What, When, Where, Why and How e.g. What street did Harry Potter live on? Why do you think Harry said…? What time of day was it? This activity is extremely effective and requires little preparation as you just need to skim over what your child has read with the 5Ws in mind. Once again, if you struggle for time, you could have your child become the teacher and create their own questions and answer what they have just read. This is an equally effective activity, however, you must check their answers and understanding. An additional activity, which may also buy you some time, is to have them draw a detailed picture of a scene from their text. This helps your child visualise what they have read and promotes creativity. 

Transfer Test Tips

Each week, I will be providing tips on key Transfer Test topics. If your child is sitting the December 2020 exam and would like a list of the main topics that are assessed, please get in touch. 

This week’s focus is on converting fractions, decimals and percentages. This is a huge topic in the test and one that children (and parents) fear, that is until they know the simple rule. To convert a fraction to a decimal, you simply divide the numerator (top number) by the denominator (bottom number) using the bus stop method. There are also videos explaining this more in-depth on the Education Support Hub Facebook page.

I would also highly recommend learning the key fractions and their decimal and percentage equivalents;

 ½ = 0.5 = 50%, ⅓ = 0.33 = 33%, ¼ = 0.25 = 25 %, , ⅕ = 0.20 = 20%, ⅛ = 0.125 = 12.5%.

Example Question

Which of the decimal numbers below is bigger than 4⅓ and smaller than 4¾  ?

  1. 4.22    b)  4.37    c) 4.88    d) 4.32

Step 1. Convert the fractions in the questions to decimals.

 4 ⅓ (1.00 ÷ 3 = 0.33) and 4 ¾ ( 3.00÷ 4= 0.75)

Step 2. Check your answers to see which numbers are greater than 4.33 but smaller than 4.75

Answer: b) 4.37

Next week’s article will include some useful tips on delivering phonics at home and making learning fun. If you have any questions regarding any of the issues discussed or would like some assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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