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Q. Where can I obtain practice papers for the national curriculum tests? My children are six, nine and 11.

M.H., Suffolk.

A.The first national curriculum test practice papers to be produced commercially were published by Letts Educational earlier this year.

These are now out of stock, however, and a new set is in production. Key stage two practice papers for 11-year-olds will be available from November and key stage three practice papers for 14-year-olds will be available from January .

There are no practice papers based on the tests for seven-year-olds because so much teacher involvement is required. However, you can buy assessment papers for seven-year-olds which, although they do not mimic the style of the tests, do provide practice in national curriculum work. Thomas Nelson and Sons publish a series, for example, as do WH Smith.

There are plenty of practice work books produced for the infant and junior years of the national curriculum. Among publishers producing material in this area are Ladybird, Ginn, Letts and WH Smith.

If you look on the shelves of a good bookshop or stationer's, you will have plenty to choose from. WH Smith has advisers in its big stores to help you to choose.

The Schools Curriculum and Assessment Authority, the Government's advisers on the national curriculum and its tests, is considering publishing through HMSO some test papers for 11- and 14-year-olds next Spring. SCAA can be contacted on 0171 229 1234.

Q. The university course I would like to go on is full. I have a conditional offer elsewhere. Is it worth going into clearing?

Liz, Manchester

A .There is no need to go into clearing when you know where you want to go. What you need to do is ring the admissions tutor of the course you would like to go on an soon as you obtain your A-level results.

Even if the course is technically full with students holding conditional offers, some may not get good enough grades to get into the course, while others might get better grades and decide to go elsewhere.

You must act quickly, though. There is a terrific scramble for any available places as soon as the A-level results are out. All universities have banks of telephones and squads of people on hand to answer them, so you will get through.

If you do get on to the course you really want, remember to release the conditional offer place - someone will want it.

Wendy Berliner

If you have a query about education, please send it to 'Crammer',

Education Section , the Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary

Wharf, London, E14 5DL.

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