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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Good Luck Story

One of the reasons why non verbal reasoning tests were developed was to try to find a test that would differentiate, in a few minutes, between a person who was intellectual less able, of average ability and bright. Then there came a need to be able to find tests that would also find children and adults who were more than just `bright’.

Non verbal tests attempt to look at ability where the ability to think and reason is independent of educational attainment. Naturally if the element of time is added to the test then the test is looking for more than just the ability to think and reason.

Of course the more familiar a person is with a test the more likely they are to do well. If the eleven plus tests that were used in the actual selection process were published then people would be able to buy them. As the eleven plus tests are not published there is a demand for books and courses so that children can be coached.

The question that always passes through parents’ minds is the sheer unpredictability of the way in which their child will approach questions in the actual eleven plus tests. Naturally we hope that able children, who have been well prepared at home and at school, will do themselves justice. Children who have a long track record of achievement are likely to do well in the tests.

What is frustrating to all of us is when a child who does not sit on the top table at school in either mathematics or English achieves a surprising result in the eleven plus examinations. Last year we had a girl who was with us for about eight months. She never climbed any where near the level needed for entry to grammar school. In the lessons she was quiet and undemanding. She did not manage to complete the eleven plus course she was on with us – because she simply worked very slowly and carefully

Somehow she managed to rise to the occasion and pass the eleven plus examinations. She not only passed but did remarkably well. All the work she had done at school, at home and with us must have `gone in’. She was only on the second mathematics table at school. We have five levels of eleven plus mathematics courses – that range for work for the mathematically gifted to children who want to `try’ the eleven plus examinations. The girl we are talking about was only working through our middle mathematics course. So how did she pick up the knowledge to be able to reach the level that she did?

This is the unpredictable nature of children and the eleven plus examinations. We are working with the younger brother of another girl who was with us last year. One of us asked the sister how the girl was getting on at grammar school this year. Through conversation it had transpired that they were both in the same class at grammar school. The answer was, `Fine, she is doing well.”

So the eleven plus examination that our girl sat was able to work out not only this little eleven year old was `bright’ – and she was also `very bright’. Yet the tests she had done with us and at school, along with her performance at school and with us had never quite managed to pick her out as a strong candidate for grammar.

Did she deserve her place? Of course she did. Will she maintain her place in grammar school? We certainly hope so. A spare a moment for the feelings the girl in question. What a boost it must have been for her to have her ability recognised so publicly. Imagine the joy and pride of the family.

We hope there will be other wonderful stories like this over the next few days. Good luck to all concerned as parents and children wait anxiously for allocated places in the schools of their choice along with entry to grammar school.

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