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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Eleven Plus Emotions

There are some tests that are useful for testing children of widely differing ages. The likely outcome of the test would be performance described in terms of age. An average would be worked out for all the children of a certain age – and these would be called age norms.

Tests that are designed for children of a certain age, like eleven plus tests, use percentile levels – and are given the name percentile norms.

It is much easier to develop tests based around multiple choice questions where each answer is complexly objective, than a test where the opinion, training and qualifications of the examiner has to be taken into account. The answer in a multiple choice test is either right or wrong. Any person, or machine, marking the same multiple choice script should achieve the same answer.

In an intelligence test the age norm is usually called the mental age. Intelligence is usually described in a ratio of mental age to chronological age. This is then expressed as a percentage.

The age norm in educational attainment tests is referred to as an attainment age. We can have an attainment age, for example, for mathematics and one for reading. The attainment quotient is the attainment age divided by the chronological age multiplied by 100. If all the attainment ages are added together this would give a general educational age – and the ratio of this to chronological age gives an overall educational quotient.

Intelligence and attainment quotients interpret test results in terms of the average achievements of other age groups. A quotient of 120 gained by a ten year old suggests a result equal to that of an average twelve year old.

Eleven plus children often need to arrive at a standardised score of around 120 – hence need to be able to work successfully at the level of a twelve to thirteen year old. Parents often wonder at the content of some of the mathematics papers. “These questions are too hard for a ten year old.”

If the eleven plus examination is pitched to capture bright children - who have the ability to answer questions two years ahead of their age – then parents need to feel reassured that the level of questions in reputable books and selection papers is probably going to be appropriate. It is no good giving an eleven plus child too much work at the ten year old level if the content of the examination is aimed at the thirteen year old.

To answer some kinds of verbal reasoning questions your child should, if possible, be reading books at the twelve or thirteen year old level. The vocabulary and themes of a book aimed at thirteen year old children is sometimes markedly different to a book aimed at a ten year old. Naturally there are books that will appeal to all ages – the Harry Potter series is a good example.

It is frustrating for some parents that the emotional age of their child does not always appear to be at the same level as their educational age. A ten year old child can sometimes appear to have the emotional age of six year old when tears and tantrums erupt. Some parents will naturally feel an urge to try to continue talking to their child as a twelve year old even when the lower lip trembles and the poor little face crumbles. If only the eleven plus could take into account the emotional age – then a number of children would probably be able to `clean up their act’ and start behaving sensibly.

Mothers and fathers of bright and well balanced ten year olds would love to think that their emotionally secure child would have an even better chance of gaining a coveted eleven plus place. We have the pleasure of working some remarkably mature children who would never ever consider having a tantrum over work. These confident and happy children love the chance of stretching themselves and being challenged by demanding work.

Imagine your eleven plus results.

Verbal Reasoning 120 – twelve years old
Mathematics 125 – twelve and a half years old
Emotional 140 – fourteen years old.

This would offer parents an emotional rush!

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