We have been working with children on Mock Eleven Plus tests. A Mock Test is just that – it is not the actual test. Mock tests do not always have to concern themselves with what has been learnt. That is the place of a diagnostic test. Mock tests do, however, have to look at what could be in the actual test.
We could look, for example, at a number of scenarios where rehearsals take place.
When people take their driving test they are advised to precede their test with lessons. Some have lessons with driving examiners and some with members of the family or friends. On the day of the test the driving instructor can take the candidate for a final lesson before leaving the car in the hands of his student and the examiner.
When the `big’ marriage of this year took place we saw the `Royal Participants’ arrive for a rehearsal along with close attendants. We were not shown the details of what happened in the wedding rehearsal. Did either fluff their lines? Did the priest remember the lines of the ceremony? Was the organist on time? Were at least some of the flowers in place? Did the T.V. cameras work?
Parents are naturally concerned about the performance of their children in a mock test. Did my child find it daunting? Was her or she aware of the passage of time? Should I have done more? How should I react to the test results?
For some reason or another the acting profession appears to have a wide range of views on the outcome of the dress rehearsal. There are some thespians who feel that a poor dress rehearsal augers a good opening night.
In a mock test the test has to try to be a valid measure of the task. If the mock test is based on an inaccurate analysis of the task faced by the eleven plus children then the result may not be reliable.
There is one more factor to be taken into account – does a mock test really present sound predictive validity? Will the results of a mock test predict future success in the actual examination?
The mock test will have helped children to understand:
How instructions before the test were administered.
The need for careful timing.
(One boy brought a large clock that he set before him and he was very aware of the passage of time. Well done to all concerned at home and at school.)
How to cope with toilet needs in the examination.
(One girl had to ask to leave the room in the middle of a timed Non Verbal Reasoning section – and so lost valuable time that could not be made up.)
How to cope with last minute instructions from parents.
How to cope with comments from other children in the break between examinations.
(“It was so easy. I finished every thing with time to spare.”)
Waiting for results.
What parents will do with the results – are the results a time for celebration?
In a mock eleven plus test there must be some form of assumption that the test does not have to cater for the needs of the entire population of children. A mock eleven plus must be able to look at the needs of bright and able children who are about to be faced by a real life public examination. A mock eleven plus test does not need to fit into a normal curve of distribution.
The actual results will have some children who do very well and others who do not fare so well. All your child can have done is his or her best. What more can you want?