Some children will do the actual eleven plus test in their school – in familiar surroundings. Other children will do their practice tests, and then the proper test, in a less well known environment. All that parents can ask for is a level playing field.
Think for a moment about the role of the teachers and examiners administering the test. The teachers will want the children they are testing to do as well as possible. They know that some of the children will arrive upset and worried. They know too that others will take the new surroundings in their stride.
The teachers will hope that the children being tested will arrive ready for the experience as fully prepared as possible. Unfortunately for the teachers, however, the children will demonstrate a wide range of uncontrollable behaviour patterns. Being tested for an eleven plus examination is not quite the same as being tested on shoe size or having to decide which toothpaste is most suitable.
In the actual examination room the teachers will try to create an appropriate atmosphere at the beginning and the end of the assessment session. The teachers will try to be pleasant and friendly. You can be sure that they will use encouraging words and ideas. It is most unlikely that they will stop beside your child, shake their heads, and mutter: “This one won’t pass!”
The teachers are more than likely reiterate that no one is expected to get everything right. I am sure that your child will hear him or her say, “No one is expected to get everything right!”
The teachers will explain what is going to happen very clearly. The whole atmosphere will be one of sincere encouragement
I am sure that they will call your child by his or her Christian name. If your child does become a little distressed the teachers will chat about hobbies, interests and common events.
Some where along the way there should be some humour. Many children like humour. Very few children like teachers who are reserved or too solemn. You should be able to count on some smiles too!
The teachers will also be taking test fatigue into account. As teachers they will know that if children work through lots of tests with no time limits that children become tired. What they won’t know is if your child has also become a little bored. As parents, try to keep a little balance in the eleven plus preparations. Don’t let your child become too fatigued and bored before the examinations. You want your child to arrive happy, excited and pleased about being tested.
We know that the teachers will be trying to avoid distractions to upset their children. It is most unlikely that the teachers will walk around ceaselessly.
You should know too that the test instructions will be adhered to. There will be a procedure laid down in a handbook or a manual. Any eleven plus examiner will need to be fully conversant with the instructions. Be reassured that oral instructions will be followed carefully. Naturally timing will also be strictly controlled.
Finally you must know that while the teachers are being nice to your child they will not be coaching or teaching any children. Your child will be able to ask relevant questions – but will receive no help during the actual paper.
Grammar schools need bright and able children. The eleven plus examination, with all its faults and problems, tries to find bright and able children. I am sure that you too have a bright and able child. Good luck!