By the time a child reaches thinking about the eleven plus he or she is being bombarded continually by all kinds of media. The Eleven Plus child’s parents will still rely on basic visual and auditory channels – but the outside work can addictively interactive. If only a test was recognised at the eleven plus level which could sort out how information is received and interpreted from the outside world.
We can test, for example, with a child’s ability to cope with some forms of information offered orally. Ask your child to repeat 342.Dictate the numbers with a slight pause between each number. Then add a number 6357. Keep going until your child falters. Ask your child to repeat the exercise with you. See who has the better short term memory!
One very useful eleven plus tool when reading questions is the ability to see associations. Find the two similar words: (Heart, Money, Cup, Passion, Glass). The processes of some children may go somewhat along these lines:
Comprehension – I can read the words. I know what the objects are. It is likely that `passion’ is not an object – so I can reject passion.
Evaluation – I can describe the different objects. I know for example that you can put liquids in cup and glasses. I like long tall glasses. They make me think of ice-cream mixed with coke. My mum calls this a brown cow.
Integration – the two objects that are similar are the cup and the glass – because we can drink from both of them.
Transfer – I choose cup and glass. That is my final answer.
Children often come across associations in eleven plus verbal reasoning questions because this type of question has the potential to trip up the unwary. Answering association type questions has much to do with ability. But could the more mature eleven plus child answer associative type questions more confidently than less mature children? After all maturity must have at least something to do with the ability to pass the eleven plus? If a very bright child, at the right age, struggles with eleven plus work then we could, possibly, think of some form of emotional block. If this was true then we would all seek a way of developing maturity as an important means of accelerating progress towards an eleven plus pass. Sadly even the immature can pass the eleven plus – so this is no panacea.
A wide number of grammar schools rely on verbal and nonverbal ability to help to select children. The research on the ability of a child to make association does not seem to be a subject for research. I cannot recall having seen a white paper developing a theme arguing that children who do well on associative questions deserve a place in grammar schools. Good comprehensions skills, along with the ability to evaluate the worth of an answer and then the skill of interpreting the question may be just as important. Almost as significant as the skill of being able to transfer the right answer to the answer sheet!