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Friday, September 17, 2010

The Eleven Plus and Reasoning

Deciding whether your child is ready for eleven plus work seems to depend on the experience of your child, the nature of the examination, underlying intelligence or reasoning ability and maturity.

Many years ago strong arguments took place about the effectiveness of coaching and practice. One side maintained that extra work on papers and eleven plus exercises was a complete waste of time. Other parents and educators felt that it was essential to give children the best possible chance.

Today few would argue that extra preparation could help towards providing children with the opportunities to acquire readiness for the eleven plus examination. There will always be some parents who maintain that their child was able to pass the eleven plus with remarkably little preparation. These fortunate parents, and their children, are to be envied. It is also likely that some parents may lack the ability to help their children. This could lead to bright and able children losing out to better prepared but less able children.

Eleven plus preparation, for some children, will be a series of small steps – where each processes is analysed and hopefully assimilated. Other children will relish the opportunity of being able to extend and stretch themselves without having to wait for others.

Children can be coached in how to tackle verbal and non verbal reasoning papers. They can be shown different methods of tackling questions and can be drilled with exercises. This could help some children to obtain good marks on reasoning papers. The coaching and preparation can only effective if the eleven plus examiners persist in presenting the same format of papers year after year. If the examiners looked for new ways of testing reasoning ability they may be able to develop examinations where truly bright children were identified.

Years and years ago an effective eleven plus question may have been:

If 123245678 in code is PARAMOUNT

What is 123358?

Very few candidates sitting this year’s examinations will not be able to know how to cope with this type of question. This could help to diminish elements of the eleven plus the ability to be a true examination of reasoning.

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