We were taught, when we were very young, that there was often a difference between a `c’ and an `s’. The A.B.C. of English Usage, my edition is the 1936 one by Treble and Wallins, tells us that `c’ is the sign of the noun and `s’ the verb. The same rule applies to words like advice and advise as well as device and devise.
Our concern is with the spelling of the words: `practice’ and `practise’.
The trusty Collins paperback dictionary (1995 Edition) tells us that practice is a noun and is something that is done regularly. It is the repetition of an activity in order to gain a skill.
The word practise is a verb and is something that is done repeatedly in order to gain a skill. It is also to take part in or follow – as in a religion. It could be to do with a profession or something that is done repeatedly.
Note the spelling of the word practice within this link. Did the author mean that the test is something that can be done regularly? Did he or she mean that by repeating the test one could obtain professional status? After all, teachers have to pass the test en route to becoming professionally qualified.
All of us must be wishing the children who are writing their eleven plus examinations the best of luck. We hope they have all had plenty of practice. We hope they all remember all that they have been told.
We hope the invigilators have also had practice in administering the tests – so that all goes as smoothly as possible in the examination halls.
At one time or another most mothers and fathers will have uttered the words:
“You have to practise your eleven plus papers.”
Of course if you are an American reader you won’t care less how the word is spelt because practice and practise are just the same.
All we can hope is that the eleven plus examiners give our children as fair a chance as possible and not try to trick them with unnecessarily complicated questions.