Are eleven plus questions always straight forward? Suppose they were confronted by a hypothetical question: “What is as big as an elephant, the same shape as an elephant, but weighs a lot less than an elephant?”
It is hoped that most eleven plus children will be able to choose the right answer from a selection of four. But what happen to those children who say; “Yes but, what about ….?” Some may even say: “No, I don’t agree, what about….?”
We often tell children to try to eliminate multiple choice answers that simply cannot be correct. A problem comes if there is a rather small difference between the answers. If children are given answers which have a wide range, some risky and some safe, then many children will opt for a middle option.
If we want conformist children who always go for the middle ground then it should be reasonably easy to build an eleven plus test that satisfies the majority. If, however, a grammar school wants a percentage of children who are prepared to think for themselves and argue a position – then the test become far more demanding to construct. The middle of the road thinkers could be penalised.
An eleven test cannot try to evaluate attitudes or opinions – as this could be provocative and challenging to some parents. After all, an opinion is sometimes rather subjective in nature. Eleven plus questions have to leave emotion behind.
So would your child opt for a safe answer to the elephant question – or would he or she be prepared to make an educated guess? Would you have nominated a shadow as the answer?