It is possible to draw an accurate relationship between success on eleven plus selection papers and passing the eleven plus examination? We hear of children doing very well with 70 – 80 per cent on some papers – and still passing. Some relationships, however, are hard to confirm. We all enjoy the ceremony of the Changing of the Guard. Those of us who have had the privilege of watching must be struck by the tall hats that are worn so proudly. We know that the headgear was once called a bearskin – but that the material has changed recently. Why do some guardsmen sometimes faint? Are the bearskins too hot and too heavy?
We know too that when the guardsmen go on parade they march with great precision. They also have to stand around a lot. Could there possibly be a relationship between the surface the soldiers are standing on and the number of guardsmen on parade? Perhaps the guardsmen faint because they have to stand still for so long. Perhaps the surface is too hard on the feet. Of course temperature may come into account. A very hot day, a weighty bearskin, standing around for long periods, up too early in the morning – all of these are factors could influence a relationship between being a guardsman on duty and fainting on parade.
Some parents may even be a little over optimistic about a worthy relationship between a mark on a selection test and a final mark in the actual examination. Some children may find day to day selection tests tedious and boring. Yet these children may have the ability to rise to the occasion on the day of the actual examination. Could there be a relationship between finding a test selection boring and enjoying the challenge of the real test?
Encouraging children to work through papers at home can never be a panacea but is probably the best method we know of estimating chances of success. The whole argument, however, falls apart as there are easy selection papers, medium selection papers and hard papers. How can a parent ever be really sure?
Is it possible that there will always be some children, with the necessary ability and motivation, who are not able, for one reason or another, to take advantage of all the gifts they have been offered? Somehow we need to try to help these children gain some insight into the complexity of the examination. We hope that children can learn insight through lots of practice. We hope, and presume, that familiarity with papers and questions will prove to be useful in the actual examination. It would be wonderful if there really was a relationship between 80% on some unnamed eleven plus paper and an elusive eleven plus pass.