As­sess­ing the re­vised 11-plus

The Jewish Chronicle - - EDUCATION - BY LORRAE JADERBERG AND KATIE KRAIS The op­tions are non-selec­tive state schools, state selec­tive/gram­mar

THEREARE­many­changes tak­ing place in the 11-plus as­sess­ments this year and these are caus­ing anx­i­ety among par­ents of chil­dren seek­ing en­trance to selec­tive schools. The cur­rent trends and changes in 11-plus as­sess­ment meth­ods are in most cases aimed at de­liv­er­ing a “tu­tor­proof” ap­proach, but it is still pos­si­ble to make sound prepa­ra­tions to al­low stu­dents to face them with con­fi­dence.

There is ob­vi­ously an im­pact on the right ap­proach to stu­dents’ learn­ing and prac­tice for these tests and it is help­ful to seek ad­vice on how best to sup­port chil­dren. A well-in­formed and pro­fes­sional tu­tor will still be able to pro­vide the nec­es­sary fo­cused sup­port and level of chal­lenge to meet the new re­quire­ments.

SCHOOL OP­TIONS AT 11 schools or pri­vate schools that are also of­ten selec­tive. In de­cid­ing what to aim for, it is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that the “right school” is where a child is go­ing to be happy and reach his or her per­sonal aca­demic po­ten­tial, rather than sim­ply the school with the best league ta­ble po­si­tion or over­all re­sults.

HIGH STAN­DARDS

Top gram­mar schools are look­ing for stan­dard­ised scores well above the na­tional av­er­age. Ap­ply­ing to these schools is not for the faint-hearted and should be at­tempted only if the child has been as­sessed as hav­ing the aca­demic abil­ity to suc­ceed. As­sess­ment is key in de­cid­ing which schools are a po­ten­tially right for a child and it is only once the child’s po­ten­tial is es­tab­lished that a plan of ac­tion to ap­proach the ex­ams should be made.

A child should never be in­ten­sively tu­tored to at­tempt to gain en­try to a school whose aca­demic re­quire­ments are be­yond their abil­i­ties. Even if this is achieved and they es­cape an avoid­able ex­pe­ri­ence of fail­ure, they would al­most cer­tainly strug­gle to keep up with their peers once they at­tended the school. Prac­tice still im­proves per­for­mance

STATE SCHOOL TRENDS

State schools are now in­creas­ing their use of com­put­erised tests. The com­bi­na­tions of tests are var­ied, but rea­son­ing tests will be heav­ily fea­tured, in­clud­ing cog­ni­tive and ab­stract rea­son­ing.

Ab­stract rea­son­ing test­ing, for ex­am­ple, is de­signed to as­sess lat­eral think­ing skills — the abil­ity to quickly iden­tify pat­terns, rules and trends in given in­for­ma­tion, to in­te­grate this and ap­ply it to solve prob­lems.

Prac­tis­ing such chal­lenges can­not cre­ate these skills but can de­velop per­for­mance and help a child achieve to the best of their abil­ity on the day.

For in­de­pen­dent schools, in­ter­views are of­ten an im­por­tant el­e­ment and may be con­ducted in groups, pairs or as in­di­vid­u­als.

One key change this year is the stated aim to re­ally un­der­stand the way the child thinks.

Coach­ing chil­dren in an­swers to spe­cific ques­tions has never been a good idea and would not help at all here, but chil­dren can still ben­e­fit from prac­tice in an­swer­ing the type of ques­tions that would re­veal the way they think through and con­sider their an­swers be­fore de­liv­er­ing them.

CEM OR GL?

CEM and GL are the two dif­fer­ent exam boards that are the ex­am­in­ers for the 11-plus in vir­tu­ally all re­gions where the 11-plus is still used. Both GL and CEM ex­ams cover broadly the same 11-plus top­ics — English, maths, ver­bal and non-ver­bal rea­son­ing/spa­tial aware­ness ex­er­cises, but there are very real dif­fer­ences be­tween GL and CEM 11-plus ex­ams. It is vi­tal that you know which exam board is be­ing used.

For both types of tests, but es­pe­cially CEM-ex­am­ined tests, time-man­age­ment skills are of great im­por­tance. Cop­ing with this re­quires plenty of timed prac­tice in the run-up to the ex­ams.

CEM

The pri­mary skills re­quired for the CEM ex­ams are strong English, com­pre­hen­sion, a deep and rich vo­cab­u­lary, spell­ing and maths skills.

CEM ver­bal rea­son­ing is very dif­fer­ent to that of GL and suc­cess is de­pen­dent on chil­dren hav­ing a much more wide-rang­ing vo­cab­u­lary.

The CEM for­mat dif­fers from the GL for­mat. One key dif­fer­ence be­tween the two ex­am­in­ing boards is that CEM pa­pers are mixed, with one exam com­bin­ing English and ver­bal rea­son­ing and an­other com­bin­ing maths and non-ver­bal rea­son­ing.

GL

The GL exam for­mat varies from re­gion to re­gion, but most GL 11-plus ex­ams are ei­ther stan­dard for­mat or mul­ti­ple choice. The length of the test pa­pers also varies, although 45 min­utes is most com­mon.

The pri­mary skills re­quired for the GL ex­ams are strong vo­cab­u­lary, logic, maths and spell­ing skills.

Which­ever exam board is in­volved, the key fo­cus ar­eas for prepa­ra­tion should be the de­vel­op­ment of vo­cab­u­lary and maths skills, plus plenty of prac­tice in all the el­e­ments in­clud­ing the var­i­ous rea­son­ing tests.

The chang­ing 11-plus ex­ams may be in­tended to be “tu­tor proof”, but it is a fact that well-guided prac­tice and prepa­ra­tion for any exam are never wasted.

JK Ed­u­cate is an ex­pert in pre­par­ing chil­dren for the 11-plus ex­ams for state selec­tive and in­de­pen­dent schools and of­fers aca­demic as­sess­ments for all chil­dren, in­clud­ing suit­abil­ity for the 11-plus. For more de­tails on the spe­cific en­trance re­quire­ments and new as­sess­ment ap­proaches of the in­di­vid­ual schools that in­ter­est you, con­tact JK Ed­u­cate, 020 3488 0754 or see jke­d­u­cate.co.uk

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