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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Eleven Plus Exam Technique

Parents could gain considerable insight into the eleven plus performance of their children if they tried to distinguish between voluntary and involuntary acts.

A voluntary act is a fully conscious act. We saw young Tom Daly, and other divers, at the last Olympics (2008) rehearsing their dives. The divers stood, almost without exception, poised for moments – obviously running through the complex moves. Sometimes a diver would seem to make a little movement – as if he or she were about to launch into space. The diver had probably reached the spot in the sequence when he or she had reached the end of the spring board.

There can’t be much time to think while the body is in the air performing a complex routine of twists, summersaults and turns. Once the diver is standing on the side of the pool he or she should be able to review the stages of the dive. The score is usually presented within seconds – giving immediate feedback.

There was a lot of rugby played over the weekend with selected northern hemisphere countries playing `friendlies’ against southern hemisphere teams. It was very evident that many of the kickers at goal were running over the steps to scoring points. Once the kicker has started on his run towards ball, he then needs to be able to visualise the ball soaring between the posts. If points are scored the smile could be either voluntary or involuntary. In the same way, if the ball misses there could be an involuntary grimace.

When the kicker rejoins his team, and his team mates praise his prowess, it is likely that his response would be involuntary. He would hardly have to stop to think to smile and say `thank you’.

Our top football teams are now largely international. Some of the coaches are coaching in a foreign tongue. If one of the players scores a goal – and is congratulated a united nations of language- then the goal scorer may need to have to hesitate before he says thank you in the requisite tongue. A possible hesitation could be involuntary as the goal scorer searches for the right word or words.

Parents need to help their child to realise that reading a question a second time should be an involuntary act – and not one forced by choice. If every time a parent helped their child with a question and the parent then read the question twice, the child would realise the need to react accordingly.

In multiple choice questions we want the child to look at the four or five options and then automatically reject the answers that can not be right. In the examination, therefore we want the child to react automatically to reading questions in prescribed and sensible ways. This then is where the distinction between an automatic and a voluntary act become virtually inseparable.

Parents can then hope that all their endeavours towards helping their children do well in Eleven Plus examinations result in conscious habits developing into automatics action.

Watch the time.
Read the Question
Re-read the question.
Eliminate answers than can not be right.
Read the question and the selected answer again, before moving on, to make sure that the answer makes sense.

There must be many more `drills’ that teachers, tutors and parents try to inculcate. This is where the true value of the Eleven Plus examination can be demonstrated. Surely it is easier to help a ten year old acquire good examinations techniques than let the child learn then painfully at the `A’ level stage?

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