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Monday, February 19, 2007

Academic Ability and Applied Ability

The manner in which children are tested for the eleven plus varies from region to region and school to school. It will always be impossible for there to be one eleven plus examination for the whole country because different schools want different types of candidates. Naturally the composition and makeup of the tests will also need to change periodically.

There will always be some children who will be able to take what ever is thrown at them in their stride. These lucky children will not be phased by strange looking questions or unfamiliar formats.

For many children there will be remarkably little distinction between academic ability and applied ability. These will be bright children who work hard and love challenge.

So what is it that some parents most fear about the eleven plus examinations? Some children will be tutored and other children will not. Some schools will take pride in the number of eleven plus passes and others won’t. Some children will prepare for two years and other children will simply do one or two papers. Some school will send out practice packs – and others will recommend commercially produced materials.

One of the fears that parents have is how their child will react in the actual examination room. Parents will be aware of their own child’s personality and motivation.

We once had a remarkably bright girl who had done wonderfully well in all her tests at school and with us. She was quite simply a one of the most able girls we had worked with. Quite inexplicably, when she was given her first set of eleven plus results, she was pleased that everything was well below average. She passed the other eleven plus examination she sat with flying colours because she did not want to go to the same school as her brother. She wanted to go to an all girls school. Her parents had always made the point how easy it would be for transport if both children could go to the same school. If both children were at the same school the mother would be able to return to a full time job.

In the end both children were at grammar school – but at different schools. What happened to the poor mother and her job? Well we hope she did the best she could for herself and the family.

Some parents will always have the `cup half full’ attitude to the eleven plus examinations. They will acknowledge that they are doing the best they can under the circumstances. They will accept their child’s strengths and weaknesses. They will simply fit the examinations into the busy family schedule.

Other parents will react in a different way. They will be concerned that they may have missed an opportunity in terms of papers or tuition or tutors.

Now these approaches probably represent two extremes. Yet one concern parents have is shared by almost all parents. They don’t know what the `on the day’ attitude of their child to the examination will be. So what ever the questions or the preparations, all parents can do, as they wait for the results, is just hope that their child has done h

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