Your bright, astute and worldly eleven plus child possibly started off making random scribbles or letter like marks. Sometimes this `work’ may have looked like letters or parts of words. Then gradually a connection was made between the sounds of a word and the letters that represent the word. And so spelling developed.
Very few eleven plus exercises require good spelling but many verbal reasoning exercises require a child to be able to analyse a word – leading to the need for a good vocabulary, sound syllabication skills and strong powers of comprehension.
Some bright children go on to invent their own spelling of words. This can happen even with their own names – especially with some rather tricky sounding surnames. As the children grow more proficient with their spelling more and more children will be able to spell in a phonologically plausible manner. Some children may become very proficient at applying phonic skills to their spelling – but then have difficulty with the order of letters within a word. The dreaded CVC words often cause problems – these are the regularly spelled words made up of a consonant, a vowel and a consonant.
An eleven plus child writing a b for a d is not necessarily dyslexic but may have elements of limited short term visual memory. This could lead to a need for a full investigation – but in some cases there is no need for concern as the problem could, possibly, be residual.
Some eleven plus children may occasionally write letters in the wrong order. This could be to do with difficulty with sequencing, or to do with problems with holding the order of letters within the head.
Spelling is also to do with consonant digraphs (pairs of letters), vowel digraphs, prefixes, suffixes and irregular words.
Then there are the spelling rules. Hope becomes hoped. Hop becomes hopped. Homophones are words that sound the same but are spelt differently. Apostrophes can also cause confusion.
Naturally some eleven plus children will work their way through the examination without making many spelling mistakes and nearly always being able to analyse a word. They are the lucky ones.
Some eleven plus parents will help their children to maintain lists of words that are likely to be met on verbal reasoning papers.