How did Emme counter attack after being put on the waiting list by the school she liked?


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Emme is an intelligent, fun loving and artistic young person. When we first met, she was not the hardest working of young students and would much prefer to read or draw then do any homework. She was very clear that she wanted to move to the UK and go to an all-girls school but was not especially keen to put in the work.

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Selection of target schools

Painting still life or cartoons, reading Roald Dahl and playing the piano were Emme's main interests but she wanted to go to large school in the UK where she would be able to make new friends, gain independence and spend as much time on art as possible. Together we selected Cheltenham Ladies College, Benenden, St Mary's Calne and Woldingham as her choices.

Find weak points and improve key academic skills

Emme's initial online tests for us showed that she was struggling in her maths and literacy in particular, but her Non-Verbal Reasoning was good. This indicated that her baseline intelligence score was strong but the maths and English (two key areas in assessment) were behind where we wanted them to be. That gave us a clear area to focus. We had to prepare for the key UKiset, CEM and CAT tests as well as ensuring that she was ready for interview. Not an easy task!

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We began working together in March, so we had a few months to slowly start classes before the big work over the summer began. Whilst Emme started well it became clear that she resented the extra classes and was losing her desire.  This came to a head in the summer break when there were some instances of poor behaviour. We came together as a team to bring her back on side, ensure that the workload was not too high and that she was able to remain motivated.  Over the summer Emme’s attitude shifted and she was able to see the reason for preparation and really knuckled down to improve her key academic skills.

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How to shine in an interview

Alongside preparing for the tests we also had to think about the interviews. Passing the test is just the beginning, most important is shining in interview. Emme is naturally not outspoken and as an artist would much rather express her feelings through painting than speech. She had interviews at our top school events with school registrars, we created mind maps of her areas of strength for her to draw inspiration from and she took part in a myriad of workshops to expose her to other ideas and conversations.

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What about being put on the waiting list by the school?

All this preparation and then the assessments were upon us. Emme gets very nervous before testing so we supported to ensure she was in a good frame of mind. Initially Emme quickly gained a Woldingham offer and was put on the waiting list for Benenden. She was then hit by two rejections by CLC and SMC. Despite disappointment, we did not give up. We continued to communicate with Benenden about Emme’s successes at school and extra-curricular, sending reports and building the relationship. Eventually the waiting list place turned into a firm offer. Emme started at Benenden this month and is very happy. Sometimes an application journey does not go smoothly – that’s life – but with perseverance and hard work success can be gained!

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