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Friday, April 15, 2011

Answering Eleven Plus Questions Cautiously

“How is my son doing in his eleven plus?”

The answer is: “Compared to what?”

Is the boy doing well compared to previous performances on tests? Do the parents want a comparison with other children in the school, or with other children in the rest of the grammar school’s catchment area?

“He reached 75 on his last paper.”

Is this 75%? Is this 75 out of 80 questions? Is this 75 out of 125 questions?

75% on an easy paper is of less value than 75% on a demanding paper.

In some areas 75% on a final eleven plus examination, on a particular paper, may contribute towards a place in a grammar school. In other areas the same mark would not help.

When your child sits the eleven plus his or her marks will be compared those of other children. Naturally there will be winners and losers.

One of the questions parents may ask their children after the examination could be: “Was the examination difficult?”

This is where your child can answer: “Compared to what?”

Some children sit county wide eleven plus examinations as well as examinations for particular schools. This could lead to some children sitting more than one examination.

“The first maths examination was easier than the second. I found some really hard questions at the end of the paper and I seemed to be rushed. The first examination was much easier.”

We prepare some eleven plus boys for one eminent school by offering sections of common entrance papers as well as traditional work towards the eleven plus. The common entrance questions are not harder – but are some questions presented in a most elegant form – the boys have to think to solve the problems. It is extraordinarily satisfying to be in a position to be able to observe a remarkably bright child pitting his wits against unfamiliar work.

There is one question that men are supposed to answer very thoughtfully when they are asked: “Does my _____ look big in this?”

Perhaps an eleven plus equivalent is: “How is my _____ doing towards the eleven plus?”

We are told that in courts of law a wise barrister never asks a question unless he or she knows the answer. Some eleven plus orientated questions may need to be treated with the same caution.

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