Advice From Our OC Scholars

11 February 2021


Preparing for Academic Scholarships

As our current 6th Formers continue to work hard in preparation for next term’s Common Entrance exams, for a select group of boys who are working towards sitting Academic Scholarships, examinations are earlier, and for some, they have already begun.

Three Old Caldicotians, who were successful in achieving their Academic Scholarship, share how they prepared for exams, what additional expectations they had to meet and what advice they would pass on to those who aspire to follow in their footsteps.

Harry M (OC 2014-2020) was awarded an Academic Scholarship to Tonbridge, George T (OC 2014-2020) to Stowe, Ahaan A (OC 2018-2020) to Harrow (Ahaan’s twin brother, Aditya, also achieved an Academic Scholarship to Harrow) and Brandon T (OC 2017-2019) to Harrow.


How did you prepare for sitting your academic scholarship?

Harry - I used my time to work effectively. When I had prep or any work to complete, I would spend as much time as needed on it and get it done before it was too late or began to worry me. I would advise that you try and get it done within the first few days of it being set as it takes the pressure off and gives time for fresh air and other activities which is much needed. Every weekend I would also do a few hours of revision to refresh myself on certain topics and maybe even learn new things. Keeping work going through the week is important as otherwise you may lose focus.

George - I worked smart - focussing on going more in depth on what I needed to work on. I made sure I was getting the most out of what I did in third prep.

Ahaan - During the months before my scholarship, I studied very hard and made sure that I learned whatever topics I did not fully understand. Past Papers from other years also helped me majorly as it was sort of a mock exam that prepared me for the style of questions that would actually be in the scholarship.

Brandon - I received 5 papers per subject just from the resources Caldicott had given me, and I have also done some more research and got a few papers via online senior school websites. The papers were mostly from the senior school I was going for, i.e. Harrow, but I scavenged for some Winchester and Radley ones too.  


What sort of support did you receive from teacher's at Caldicott?

Harry - Ma’am Naidoo was the driving force behind me and my set but all the teachers really helped when it came to their specific subject. Clinics would be held when we needed them, although I understand it is harder online, but still possible. We could also have 1 on 1’s to talk about our strengths and weaknesses looking at the exams. Ma’am Naidoo would often give us suggestions or ideas on how we could tackle and get through a week in terms of managing work, which was always helpful.

George - A great opportunity to aid my scholarship progress was to ask the teachers for extra work. Whether it was on a previous topic already covered that I felt needed working on or that was a particularly popular topic in the exam.

Ahaan - I received strong support from many teachers at Caldicott, especially Ma’am Naidoo. Whenever I didn’t understand something, I went to the teachers who taught me in breaks. I found this support very helpful. Ma’am Naidoo was always helping us along the way especially with Science which was a very important exam.

Brandon - The most support is the number of papers they gave me and how urgent the deadlines were fore the papers to be handed in. In my memory, the teachers were pretty happy with the results I got, even though on the surface, some results, such as getting 40 percent on a Maths II paper, may seem quite low. They forced me to work hard, and I am glad they did.


What has been the expectation on you at your senior school?

Harry - Similar to Caldicott, any pupil, scholar or not, will be expected to complete any prep and at this particular moment no more strenuous tasks have been put on the scholars, that tends to happen more in our second year onwards when sets are chosen.

George - LSAS - Lower School Academic Scholars - discussing highlighted topics and current affairs that might be of interest to people.

Ahaan - At Harrow, an academic scholar needs to finish in the top 25% of the year in trials(exams) and is heavily encouraged to attend talks in which the termly Coutts lecture is required.

Brandon - I am expected to participate in many co-curricular activities, mainly academics related, but some others also. I am often involved in many extra collaborations and projects outside of the classroom . I need to focus on a high level and think deeply and inductively about questions in which I do not know the answer to.


What advice would you give to boys who are currently approaching their scholarship exams?

Harry - Prioritise work and get it done so you can enjoy other activities, which for me was sport, but regardless, ensure you allow leisure and fun time, or you will burn out. Last year during lockdown, our set created a Whatsapp group to keep up with each other and talk about work and make a ‘timetable’ for us to work with. We would discuss ideas and topics when it was group work which really helped us, in both a social and supportive aspect.

George - Keeping up with current affairs, find out if there are any patterns in the papers that you know you can work towards and highlight your revision on.

Ahaan - Be focused. The last thing you want to do is start messing around in the last few months approaching your scholarship. If you do not take it seriously then it is quite unlikely that you will get the scholarship.

Brandon - Work in the day, because that is when you have the most energy and block yourself from any distractions. Try and play sudoku for relaxation, or read a book, perhaps play a musical instrument. When you are stuck in a particular question on a paper, leave it alone for a while, go for a walk, or take a snack, calm yourself and think about it in another perspective, a more calm and logical one, you will often find yourself solve a hard question easier if you do that then try to force yourself into answering it. 


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