Our children writing Eleven Plus examinations first of all have to know something. They can not write an Eleven Plus examination with some knowledge.
The children also have to understand what they know. It will be almost impossible for them to be able to answer a question on volume without some understanding of the concept.
In some Eleven plus questions our children will need to be able to think. This could be critical thinking – or distinguishing between facts and opinions or even `thinking outside of the box’.
The children will also need to be able to demonstrate technical ability. This could be the ability to read and understand the instructions at the start of a section and then proceed to answer a number of questions correctly.
There is also the question of communication. This is more than an Eleven Plus child communicating with his or her parents, communication be simply writing down the right answer.
We know, for example, that vocabulary is a vital factor in many different types of examinations. A good vocabulary is essential in verbal reasoning.
Suppose the children were asked to define the concept of `orange’.
Some children would immediately opt for the colour orange.
Other children would interpret the definition of orange being a fruit – and thus describe the word orange in terms of a member of a family or grapefruit, lemons and limes.
Any children watching the recent European Football Championships will recall the vast swathes of orange as Holland played. The orange there was celebrating the House of Orange.
To arrive at the right answer in a verbal reasoning test – where the word `orange’ is involved - our children need to be able to follow different thought processes:
They will need to know in which context the word is being used.
They will have to think to distinguish between the different definitions.
They also have to be able to communicate the answer.
Question 1A: The fruit of an evergreen tree
Question 1B: A colour between read and yellow
Question 1C: The colour of a ruling family in Europe
Eleven plus parents will be working with their children on vocabulary but, as we have just seen, even everyday words can stimulate discussion and conjecture. Keep a dictionary close to hand – especially when working through papers. Talk about words and ideas. Help your child to recognise that exploring words can be exciting and refreshing.