Reading an Eleven Plus question requires a number of different skills. After all, reading is more simply interpreting a series of letters into sounds to make a word. We use the alphabet to write words down – and to read words – but reading is more than simply manipulating letters. To be able read effectively a child needs to be able to think and reason.
The visual analysis of patterns of letters can be done very rapidly and accurately. Some children will be able to look at the words in a sentence very quickly. Other children will read a verbal reasoning question using a word by word method.
Once the letters making up the words have been mastered and assimilated then the reader will need to be able to associate sounds with the words. This in turn will lead to comprehension of the word or words. So we look at a word, hear the sounds in the word and then understand the meaning.
A child could be faced with a question like: Which two words in the brackets make the same kind of pair as the two words at the beginning of the group?
ONE, FIRST (seven, seventeenth, seventieth, seventh)
Here the child had to read the words, understand the individual words and then work out what the question was asking. Last of all the words had to be analysed and sorted. Finally the correct solution to the question needs to be selected. After all it is no good knowing the right answer if the correct response is not selected.
A parent will ask their child to read the sentence aloud.
The words: “Slow down and read it again,” will be used by many parents.
Slowing down and reading the question aloud will be important – if the child is also reading for meaning and mastery of the question.
We can make a test more difficult by using harder and less familiar words. Parts of a test can be made demanding by choosing words from topics where the child can not be expected to have specialist knowledge.
So if Eleven Plus tests are trying to select children who are able and well read, then you really do need to try to encourage your child to read and read and read.