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General Discussion / 2019 selective test results
« on: August 12, 2019, 01:16:01 PM »
A very strong set of results but the English component was very hard as expect. The scores went down a lot when compared to 2018's results. All the first round offer entry scores for selective schools fall accordingly. However, they don't seem to fall much at top 7 selective schools due to so much competition (kids from baby boom years when the Howard government gave baby bonus).

General Discussion / 2018 OC Results
« on: August 12, 2019, 01:15:19 PM »
A strong set of results for 2018 despite a very hard test with English scores falling very low as promised by the review of the OC/Selective program. A lot of parents in NW of Sydney are disappointed as the competition is too high and kids need over 240 to have a chance of placement.

General Discussion / 2018 selective test results
« on: September 04, 2018, 02:03:12 AM »
A very strong set of results but the test was easy so the scores look like 5-10 points higher than those in 2017. All the first round offer entry scores for selective schools jumped higher between 5-10 points.

General Discussion / 2017 OC Results
« on: September 04, 2018, 01:59:17 AM »
A strong set of results for 2017.

General Discussion / Re: 2018 Scholarship List for Sydney
« on: March 07, 2017, 05:29:42 PM »
Hi Peter,

I am not sure how to start a new topic. By the way, is there the same website but aimed to Victoria SS?


Selective school prep is similar every where whether you are in any Australian state or even in the UK or US. In VIC they have 4 selective schools for year 9 to apply. So it's a bit later but the foundation will be the same. Kids should be strong since year 5-6 to have a chance. Also there are many schools running gifted classes internally and they also pick top students via a test or other kinds of assessment. You also have private schools offering scholarships and these tests are run by Australia-wide assessment agencies. They are pretty much the same across Australia. NSW is the biggest place in Australia when it comes to Selective schools and scholarship tests. So preparing for NSW level of competition can never go wrong any where else.

Some parents from other states have found their ways to my website. So I start to have users from other states. Apart from NSW which is my base, WA is another state where I get some people interested but I cannot see why this does not work for all Australian states. ACER (based in Melbourne) has contracts to run most of these tests across Australia.

General Discussion / 2018 Scholarship List for Sydney
« on: October 27, 2016, 09:42:23 PM »
2018 scholarship opportunities in Sydney
All Saints Grammar, Co-ed, Saturday, 25 February 2017, ACER Co-op
Ascham School, Girls, Saturday 11 February 2017, Academic Services
Cranbrook School Boys, Sat, 4 March 2017 Academic Services
International Grammar School, Co-ed Saturday 25 February 2017, ACER Co-op
MLC Girls Sat, Sat, 11 February 2017 ACER alternative
Newington Boys, Monday 13 February 2017 Academic Services
Our Lady of Mercy College, Parramatta Secondary Girls Sat, March 4, 2017 Academic Services
Penrith Anglican College Secondary Co-ed Sat, 25 February 2017 ACER Co-op
Presbyterian Ladies' College, Sat, 25 February 2017 ACER Co-op
Ravenswood School for Girls, Sat, Sat, 25 February 2017 ACER Co-op
Santa Sabina College Primary, Girls Sat, 25 February 2017 ACER Co-op
SCEGGS Girls, Sat, 25 February 2017 ACER Co-op
St George Christian School Co-ed, YET TO ANNOUNCED 2016
Sydney Grammar Boys, Sun, 12 February, 2017 Other/unknown
TARA School for Girls, Sat, 11 March 2017 EDU Test
The King’s School Boys, Sun, 19 February 2017 Other/Unknown
Arden Anglican School Secondary, Co-ed, REGISTRATIONS WILL OPEN IN NOVEMBER
Georges River Grammar Co-ed, YET TO ANNOUNCED

All Saints College Bathurst NSW 2795, Co-ed, Saturday, 25th February 2017, ACER Co-op
The Illawarra Grammar School Co-ed, Sat, 25 March 2017 ACER alternative

Search this website:

To find the elite private schools, go to, click on Scholarship & Selective school and look for private schools. Or just look for HSC ranking and find private schools among the top 250 schools.

General Discussion / News article about selective school pressure
« on: March 19, 2016, 01:25:09 AM »

This article looks at the extreme side of selective school culture. It makes sense to have a balance, and usually year 10 is where the race really starts. Therefore kids should be allowed to have a bit of fun between year 7-9. As long as the kids learn enough to do ok up to year 9, they will be fine if they really work hard from year 10. Kids here are encouraged to self-learn and parents' help is preferred to tutoring. It is better to have kids learning to self-study.

General Discussion / Resetting Narrative and Persuasive boards
« on: March 12, 2016, 10:36:29 PM »
The two boards have been archived and reset to allow year 5 students to start working on writing.

The year 6 students have now completed the selective test. Writing performance has been very good this year with students getting interviews for early scholarships. One student has been offered a 100% scholarship at a top boy school this week. More offers are expected to come in the next few weeks.

Only about 50% of the year 6 actually participated in the writing forum. The active students have improved enormously. After all, writing performance requires students to make an effort to write. Those who don't make an effort cannot improve. It is as simple as that.

Hopeful, the new group of year 5 students will be more active. Parents should encourage the kids to take writing very seriously. Writing is often the weakest area for all kids.

General Discussion / What is gifted education?
« on: March 09, 2016, 01:56:35 PM »

The NSW OC and selective programs are purely based on academic TALENTED students. It assumes that talented students are also gifted. Of course, this is true 99% of the time. The selective tests are placed at the level way beyond normal ability where even a school teacher will fail to score well. The tests have a wide variety of questions across maths, English, general ability and a writing task. How can a kid who do well in this huge test over 3 hours could be without superior memory, mental processing, logical reasoning and vast amount of knowledge?

Still it is important to understand that not all gifted students become talented, and actually a big percentage of them won't. They just don't have the chances to develop their gifts. They may not be living in the right kind of family or community that value their gifts. They may not have the support to develop their gifts. They may have some learning disabilities that stop them from developing their gifts.

And more importantly, for those that already have parental support and good environment to develop their gifts, they should be parented well so they understand and embrace the development of their gifts rather than going for useless but extremely addictive stuff such as computer games, TV, YouTube, eating junk foods, online chat, ...

Another thing that people "know" but often "avoid" talking about in Western culture is the lack of the basics. Gifted kids are often lazy and ignore the learning of the basics. Because they are smart, their gifts actually mask the lack of basics. They can score well by guessing the multiple choice questions or even come up with the right short answers without actually understand it. Therefore it is really harmful to think of gifted education as different than normal education. It is more useful to think about gifted education as cutting back on normal education (while still keeping the core),  and add a lot of advanced and challenging stuff to fit the needs of gifted kids. Taking the basics and help the kids to understand deeper is also part of education for the gifted kids. This is what many tend to overlook! The result is a poorly formed foundation and that is bad for their future learning at higher levels. So a lot just stop being talented when they get to higher years.

General Discussion / Getting ready for 2017 Selective Test
« on: March 08, 2016, 02:59:57 PM »
Year 6 are about to do the selective test and move on. It is time to look at year 5 students.

The writing forum has been archived and cleared out to start fresh. The work by year 6 students are still avaiable for all to read and learn from.

A new module called Writing Planner has been developed to help students memorise teh format for narrative and persuasive writing. This is to be used in conjunction with reading the writing guide to make sure students can write with 20 minutes limit and still havce all the elements of each writing genre.

General Discussion / Identification of gaps in year 3-4 maths
« on: February 29, 2016, 11:27:53 AM »
It is the nature of Australian primary school education to leave gaps in students at the foundation level. It is dead simple. When you leave the task of preparing teaching program  entirely to teachers, some teachers will not do well and the kids won't cover all what they should learn even if they are smart and more capable of learning everything thrown at them. This happens to gifted kids too as they move really fast and ignore stuff they don't like. The result are "cracks" at the foundation. If they are not repaired, the kids won't do well later when they face harder stuff and the stuff that requires a strong foundation.

A new module has been implement with most of the maths from Australian syllabus for stage 2 (year 3-4). A number of fairly strong year 4 and year 5 students have tried it and it reveals a lot of gaps! The module get students to attempt 238 questions in all strands and report on the gaps. This allows parents to quickly help the kids to fix the gaps (or find help for them). It could help kids to fix their gaps with a couple of weeks. For  year 3 students preparing for OC, this will really help them to enter OC preparation with a solid maths foundation.

Students can enter this module "Maths Gaps" from the section "More ..." and get the 10 tests done. A complete report is avail;able after having all 10 tests done. They can also do the Mathematics Gaps Identification series and access the report by going into the module later.

General Discussion / Credit for Mathemafix Users
« on: January 04, 2016, 11:50:20 PM »
We are now in a world of online commerce. It is important now for kids to learn how the Internet and online commerce work. There are certain principles that remain true regardless of what times we are in. One of the most fundamental principles of commerce is "trust". This is where words-of-mouth is still one of the most important elements of selling power in this online world.

Past users of Mathemafix carry this marketing power. People believe what they say because they were successful gaining places in top schools. To harness this trust, credit will be offered to past (and present) users who introduce new users to the OC or Selective support groups. Current users get credit to extend their subscriptions. Past users get PayPal credit paid directly to their PayPal accounts.

All one needs to do is to introduce this website to others and tell them to put one's login id as the referrer (during registration).

General Discussion / Mathemafix acepts Bitcoin for subscription
« on: December 16, 2015, 12:36:54 PM »
Bitcoin is a mysterious new kind of money called digital money. It is created by an anonymous person or a group of people. Now it is entirely in the public domain and no government or bank has any control over it. It allows people to send payment across the world in seconds and the fee is almost nothing.  See the Bitcoin guide for where to look for more information and how to use it. It is still hard to buy bit coin, and currently it is traded at about 600AUD per bitcoin. Each bitcoin is split into 100 million satoshi (smallest unit of the bitcoin network). This means people can pay amounts less than 1 cent worth!

One can experiment, learn about bitcoin and start getting some free satoshi just by open a page for advertising companies that give out bitcoin satoshi in return to generating some Internet traffic for their ads.

While these free sources of bitcoin won't give you more than a dollar worth of bitcoin per day, they give you a chance to get some of it enough to store, send and receive to learn how this works. You can create a Bitcoin wallet. Each wallet can support unlimited number of addresses for receiving bitcoin. Each address could be thought of as a note. All the notes together give you the total value of your wallet.  Digital currency may be the way of the future as it is easily kept in your mobile phone. You can use your phone as a digital wallet to pay for purchases and to receive money!!! And you no longer need a bank for day to day cash. You also no longer need the bank to transfer money overseas. No one will know how much cash you have. It makes sense to pay a few cents worth of money for some little thing (micro payments). You get all the information to get started in the Bitcoin Guide. This is an exciting area of digital technology in the future.

And once you have experimented with Bitcoin and decided not to use it for now, please donate the few cents worth of satoshi to my bitcoin account: 1HQCp9itosUicFLco3q3VgW9G42iRw8p38

General Discussion / How to improve punctuation and sentences
« on: November 24, 2015, 02:27:20 AM »
This is a very effective strategy to improve punctuation to help the kids write better. The core of punctuation is about the use of the comma and full stop to make it easy to read. This skill implies the knowledge of English sentence structure. Then less important aspects of punctuation such as capital letters, speech marks and various other marks come into play as more advanced features. The key is to get the sentence structure, comma and full stop correct.

In the child board Online Resources and Guides, there are many guides (more useful for parents). The punctuation guide will help.

In the child board Story Analysis, there are about 20 sample stories that could be used for doing exercises.

The exercise

This is best done with a parent.

1- Copy one of the stories into Word, remove all commas and full stops. Then select all text, press SHIFT-F3 to convert all capital letters to lower case.
2- Set line spacing to 2x and print a copy
3- Get the kids to put the punctuation back into the story. Do just 1/2 of a page.

Then compare with the original story to see where the errors have been made. Try to explain why these are errors.

Then do the rest of the page, and compare the number of errors with that from the first 1/2 of the page.

Keep doing this with other stories until the number of errors gets under 5 per page.

Extra activity

If parents cannot help. Use Word grammar checking to help.

Do the punctuation exercise in Word rather than on paper. Get Word to check the grammar to see if any error is still there and see how Word suggests to fix  them

A new training module has been created to automate the above exercises. After logging on Mathemafix, go to the link "More ..." and look for the module Punctuation. Just by using this module, students learn to put comma, full stop and capital letters back into the sample stories. This module also provides links to videos that teach students about English sentences, how to write better sentences and the common errors in writing.

Psychologists give people their ideas of these things that condition the behaviour of people. These things existed since the dawn of time. Psychologists did not invent them. They only identified them and worked out how to use them more effectively. While punishment is well understood, positive and negative reinforcements are not. Positive reinforcement is often overused and quickly loses its effectiveness over time. Understanding the nature of these tools really help us to use them effectively and maintain their effectiveness.

So what is reinforcement?

If one remembers Pavlov's classical conditioning, it is easy to explain the idea of reinforcement. You go about to create a behaviour (in human or animal) by conditioning. For example, you tap 3 times on the glass of an aquarium then you feed the fish. After a few times, the fish will come if you tap 3 times even without feeding them. But they stop coming if you stop feeding for a while. So to REINFORCE the behaviour, you must keep feeding them as you tap on the glass.

In the above example, positive reinforcement is the FEEDING and negative reinforcement is THE STOP OF FEEDING. In a few words, positive reinforcement is to GIVE/ADD and negative reinforcement is to TAKE AWAY/SUBTRACT. That's what I thought anyway! The psychologists are truly mad people. They make it harder for normal people to understand. They say that negative reinforcement is to take away, but the thing you take away MUST be the BAD things. In the case of feeding the fish, you take away the good thing for the fish. So you are actually PUNISHING the fish. They call this NEGATIVE PUNISHMENT! So what the hell is negative reinforcement?

Negative reinforcement is when the subject is suffering a bad condition for example extremely hot weather. You then take away the heat by turning on the air-conditioner. This teaches the subject that turning on the air-con will make life better. This means both positive and negative reinforcements increase a behaviour. Anything that decreases a behaviour is call punishments (positive/add or negative/subtract)

Simple, isn't it? Yet we make mistakes all the time when you try to apply these ideas to others (our kids) try to get them to behave in certain ways. If adults think you are trying to condition them, they would quickly think you are a manipulator and instantly stop dealing with you. So even if you are trying to do this to your colleagues or partners, you would need to pretend that you don't even know what these things are! You probably also need to pretend that you are not conditioning the kids too. They may work it out.

How positive reinforcement can go wrong?

We are often fooled into believing that positive reinforcement is always good and should always work. It does not! There lots of reason why it does not work or would lose effectiveness very quickly.

- What if you give someone something s/he does not like? (this is called positive PUNISHMENT)
- What if you give someone something that never breaks down? (You get only one chance and you have done it!)
- What if you give someone something that will grow and give that person more and more so that the person would never need you again?
- What if you praise a child for everything that is just a bit better than worthless stuff? The child will crumble when there is a tiny failure.

How negative reinforcement can go wrong?

People may confuse negative reinforcement with punishment! The two things are different but related. It is about taking something away. Sometimes it is a punishment but sometimes it is not. This is why people are completely confused! Positive reinforcement can be a punishment too. When you give something that people don't like (tough love), it is a punishment too. Therefore, a punishment is just the case that people get something they don't like or when they lose something they like. We need to be savvy enough to know when something is a punishment and when it is not. Strictly to the definition given by psychologists, one must remember.

- Positive reinforcement is to give something pleasant.
- Negative reinforcement is to take away something unpleasant.
- Both reinforcements increases a behaviour you want to promote.

The main trouble with playing around with reinforcement is we tend to use positive reinforcement too often. We fill kids up with pleasant things. Then we have no more new things to give. The kids stop doing what we want and spend all their time on games and toys, we realise that we need to take these things away. Immediately, this is called negative punishment and the kids will become violent! As negative punishment only decreases the behaviour we don't like (kids playing games), it does not promote what we like (kids doing study and chores).

How about using negative punishment to force kids to behave in a certain way in order to avoid the punishment? This means making punishment a permanent unpleasant stimulus, and then take it away if the kids behave the way we want them to. This works for most cases but it damages the relationship between kids and parents.

So what works?

It is all about a balance. The best policy is to make sure that positive reinforcement will continue to work and negative punishment is not necessary. This is how to minimise the "violent" reaction and teach a child how to get what s/he wants.

We need to pay attention to the lifespan of a reinforcement (how long it would last). The shorter it lasts, the more effective it will be.

For example: a trip to McDonald for an ice-cream and a burger is a short positive reinforcement. You can give this again and again. But an iPad will last for years so you can only give it once! You immediately lose it as a positive reinforcement tool as soon you give it away.

By giving only very short term positive reinforcement, you can keep it working for a long time as you have the power to give it again. Obviously, you can recreate that power by taking it away. But that will be a negative reinforcement, and that is also a punishment. The violent reaction will be hard to bear for both parents and child!

The message here is "renewable positive reinforcement". I am not sure if this idea has been thought up by psychologists before but I am sure ancient people already knew this. So it is probably not worth it to claim intellectual property for it (:

The idea is simple! You just make sure your child own NOTHING. Every time the child wants to get something, the child will have to ask for it. You can then put up conditions for what the child wants to get. You will always have the tool of reinforcement to control and exact the positive behaviours.  Yes, this is cruel and heartless but very effective. And you will also model the child to be cruel, heartless and selfish too. But knowing how the tool works is the start. Knowing how to keep positive reinforcement effective allows you to moderate it and create a happy balance.

The happy balance

Kids must be allowed to own many essential things so they feel secured and "landed". This is when they learn to value things and learn to  give. If you don't have anything, how can you give any one anything? Yet, some of the non-essential things they desire the most (every child is different), should be "loaned" to them on conditions of positive behaviours. So one should make a list of things that are generally non-essential for the kids but they love these so much. They know they should not be allowed to have them but they want them anyway.

These could be (and many more as every child will like different things)

- iPad (as lots of free games could be loaded on!)
- Computer games
- Game consoles
- TV (endless hours of vegetating and letting the TV shows do all the thinking for your kids)
- Internet access (endless hours of watching silly YouTube stuff and online games)

Make sure these things are OWNED by parents. Kids can only get "renewable" access with conditions. You can buy all the fun things but make sure the kids know that these things are NOT theirs. However, they can have plenty of access depending on their behaviours. And the WRONG behaviour is to annoy parents so much in order to be rewarded with access to these items just to leave parents in peace. It is a common bad behaviour of parents to shoo the kids away by giving them access to these items. After a while, it is impossible to take these things away.

Breaking the habit

How to break the habit (giving negative reinforcement) without the violence?

You will need a scapegoat for this. For example, to take the TV off the kids, wait for a day with real bad weather. Unplug the antennae then blame it on the storm and the repairman not coming. After a few weeks, the loss of access takes the kids off TV. Similarly, do same thing with the Internet. And when Internet is put back, put in child control on the router in terms of hours (or ask a technician to help setting child control up) and tell the kid that you don't know what to do to change it.

Pushing the "reset" button on behaviour is very difficult! Negative punishment will incite "violence". So it is best to NOT to give a "bad" positive reinforcement at the first place.

Also give a renewable positive reinforcement at every opportunity when you see your child exhibit a desirable behaviour. This will encourage the desirable behaviours. Once a kid grows a lot of desirable behaviours so that these outnumber the poor behaviours, you get a happy balance.

Why negative reinforcement is not popular as positive reinforcement?

For negative reinforcement to become popular, the subject must have a such a bad life that almost everything is "renewable" unpleasantness. This gives opportunities to take away unpleasant things to create negative reinforcement. This why a lot of kids in poor families/societies who had so little in their childhood eventually became successful. They had very little in life and have to do a lot of chores on daily basis. Every time they studied hard the parents might reward them by letting them have a respite from chores or other unpleasant things. They learned to study very hard just to (one day) get out of their unpleasant conditions.

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