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Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Logic of Some Eleven Plus Questions

For some children the eleven plus examination is now a matter of days and weeks away. By now many of the children will have covered the majority of the so called `Eleven Plus Syllabus’ and will be revising and going over problem areas.

As parents work with their children on verbal reasoning exercises they will be aware of a rainbow of emerging linguistic skills.

Sometimes parents will be aware of their child solving a problem – when they can not really explain in words what they have done. Before wondering if their child has seen the answers – it may be worth considering that the brain is beginning to develop powers of being able to see solutions to problems. “I can’t explain how I got the answer; I just know what the answer is.”

Sometimes too your child may display powers of organisation of thought that could make you wonder: “Where on earth did that come from?” This is a natural consequence of the time and effort that has already gone into working towards the eleven plus. Parts of the brain are clicking in to place.

On other occasion your child may be able to explain how to reach an answer – without really being able to achieve the final step. The final step being selecting the right multiple choice answer.

Parents could test how far their child’s thought processes are developing by playing the game Twenty Questions once again. Suppose the answer was a large kitchen knife. At a pre eleven plus stage a child may ask: “Is it in the kitchen?” Later on in a child’s development of thinking and reasoning, you could expect a question along the lines of: “Is it a kitchen utensil?” A two part question like this opens up a different type of generalised thinking.

Eleven plus children will continue ask some general questions – but will also be able demonstrate that they have reached higher level of hierarchy. This type of thinking is part of being able to understand that in some multiple choice questions they may have to choose between remarkably similar answers – without the luxury of being able to recognise immediately that a particular answer needs to be eliminated.

Parents will use language to help their child develop skills of theorising. Developing a theory entails collecting information and evidence and then organising an answer. A correct eleven plus answer can seem to defy logic. In fact some eleven plus questions do defy logic. “I can see the answer in the answer book, but how did they do that?”

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