Some time ago psychologists found that ability on crosswords compared favourably with results on IQ tests. Rearranging letters is the staple diet of many crosswords.
We need to wonder sometimes just why some items are included in Eleven Plus tests. A number of verbal reasoning papers seem to have at least one `rearrangement’ exercise. The examiner draws up lists of words that can be rearranged. Suppose the exercise is rearranging letters into names of animals. The examiner could start with a list of easy words – and then possibly offer three or four other lists of words that are increasing difficult to rearrange.
The 4th List could be:
Children and adults who do well on `Countdown’ are able to unravel and decode words at lightening speed. Other people, who are verbally able, continue to struggle. Eleven Plus children can be helped by being encouraged to read the question carefully. If the topic is to do with animals then it is essential to focus on animals. It is no good offering names of flowers.
A child, however, could win or loose a place at grammar school on the ability to decipher and interpret one word. Lots of reading – and an extensive vocabulary – must help some children. But if some children are more predisposed than others to be able to find answers to some types of `tricky’ questions, then some Eleven Plus children could be penalised unfairly.
In Mary Poppins we find a really useful `panegyric’ word. We know that she intended elaborate praise – and many children of all ages delight in being able to spell the word.
Eleven Plus Question:
`Give a 34 letter adjective with no clear meaning, possibly to do with praise’.
Eleven Plus Answer