1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Grammar school tests - would I have got in?!

Discussion in 'Personal' started by Doitforfree, Mar 6, 2011.

  1. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    I was just browsing the internet, as you do, and I stumbled across some example tests for an eleven plus exam. I went to Oxford and got a good degree (I only mention this as I think it means I must have once been reasonably bright) but I found some of the tests really hard! And I also disagreed with the reasoning given on several of them. They were looking for patterns but to my mind there wasn't enough information. You could have chosen their answer, or you could perfectly well have made a case for some of the other answrs. Except that for a child that wouldn't be an option as they're multiple guess.
    I assume that with practice you get better at this type of test. I suspect that at eleven I would have failed miserably. But part of the reason would have been that I clearly don't think like the person setting the test. Or am i just thick?
  2. We practised a lot at school.
  3. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    It was also REALLY boring. I'm an arty person and I like to write and express myself. Is there another part to these tests that's lets other sort of people shine? Presumably these tests select in the sort of people they want but has anyone done any research to see if they also select out able but creative or difficult people?
  4. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    that. Sorry.

  5. Thats' what the kids who didn't do well used to say.
  6. NellyFUF

    NellyFUF Lead commenter

    I think you got to write a "Composition" as well.
  7. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    What does that mean? That a clever child should assume the tester is stupid, will only have thought of one answer and then work out what that one answer is? I've done tests just like that. I had to do one for my childminding course. On every paper there was at least one question where none of the suggested answers was correct. You had to get inside the mind of the person setting the exam and decide which one he would have thought was right.

    I am really clever by anyone's book. This isn't a boast. I'm bad at a lot of things but I'm academically good. I couldn't do these tests. I don't think I'd have got into grammar school yet I'm the sort of candidate they're after. If grammar schools are for clever children then those are the ones they should be selecting, not just some who are good enough.
    I've sen the same thing in NCTs. The best I ever saw was on a BBC Bitesize science revision test. There was a 'special' question at the end, with exclamation marks, 'see if you can do this!' sort of thing. None of the given answers were correct. The answer they gave wasn't the same as any of the four you had to choose from and <u>it</u> wasn't right either. They had mistaken a quite sophiosticated scientific question for something very simple and that was their downfall. So called IQ tests are just the same. They only test for the same type of IQ as the tester has. And if the tester has limited thinking skills then that's all the test will test for and may well select out more skillful thinkers.
  8. jazz2

    jazz2 New commenter

    There are various 11+ tests - different counties use different tests. Some test English and Maths, some VR and NVR. Bucks have only VR.
    They don't test creativity - they are supposed to give an indication of potential. The fact that there is no consistent test used throughout all grammar schools demonstrates there is no agreement on how to assess this - and they can all be coached for, so weak well-off children get into grammar schools and bright, poorer children ... sometimes do, sometimes don't.
    A radio programme a year or two ago tried the same 11+ tests on Y6 children in a non-selective area that were being used in a different county. The non-selective county children all performed less well, because they had never encountered the tests before - they wouldn't have got into grammar school, on the basis of the test, but it wasn't that none of them were clever enough.
  9. Doitforfree, I have to stress that my then little girl has Asperger Syndrome, and therefore it might be totally unexpected that she saw things in a different and possibly more complex way than other children of her age. At that age concepts, context, categories etc meant very little to her and therefore the answer the other children came up may not have been obvious to her, or perhaps was too obvious to her.
    The problem is that there will always be people who like her, conceptualise things, contextualise things (is that an actual word?) or categorise things in a way that we don't expect, and that doesn't make them wrong.
    And then there is the issue of ambiguity? It's a minefield really. It is also the reason that Intelligence Testing, in whatever form, is completely unreliable in testing the potential ability of many children.
  10. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    Doglover, I think I would really like your daughter. She sounds a lot like one of my boys.
    What distresses me about these tests is that in our county they are all that is used and they are all multiple choice. They don't test anyone's reasoning, only if it is the same as that of the tester.
  11. My sister's daughter is facing entrance tests next year, for various schools and she will have a variety of different tests, complicated by the fact that she will be living abroad and taking them away from the actual schools.
    Academic selection was compulsory here until 2 years ago, in the form of a paper of science, maths and english. When I did it many years ago, it was verbal reasoning.
    Now Grammar Schools have come together to set Common entrance assessments. Three different groups have emerged and the grammar schools have opted for which one of those to join, with AQE being the most popular. You sit the test in the school you want to go to, and you sit the paper for the group of schools your chosen school belongs to. One is Maths and English based, one is Maths, English and Science based and one is verbal reasoning. Children face sitting 3 tests now instead of 1.
  12. are these tests the modern nfer-type test - the selective schools round here use them as a first filter, with those who get through doing 'proper' maths and english exams in the second round
    i don't think much of them either, (though i am quite good at them) - but i can't blame the selective schools for using them - they're computer marked and as literally thousands of kids apply to the schools they need a comaparitively easy to process first-round filter
  13. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    Our county has just a few grammar schools, and not in thepart we live in, thank goodness. But these tests are all that they use. I don't think that having lots of children to select should mean they use a didgy test. What's thepoint of selection if you may be selecting unfairly?
    I tried my ten year old brainy boy on them and was quite right, he couldn't do them at all. I daresay with a bit of practice he could get better but that rather demonstrates that they don't test potential, as is alleged, but preparation. Oh look, that means the children who get in are nice middle class children whose parents have had them tutored and made sure they do lots of practice. I am one of those middle class parents and in that situation that's what I'd do, but I hate a system that pretends to be fair when really it's choosing a certain type of child from a certain type of family. Which is more than borne out by the statistics.
  14. lurk_much

    lurk_much Occasional commenter

    Their parents pay the taxes.
    Do you expect a system to bite the hand that feeds it?

  15. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    But that's me! And I don't want my taxes to be spent unfairly. I'd rather not have selective schools but if selective schools are supposed to take the cleverest X percent of children it would be nice if they actually did that. Or admitted what they <u>are</u> doing.
    But what really annoys me is that I think the people setting the tests are thick as anything and don't realise how flawed they are.
  16. I did 11+ and my school refused to let children practise it. We were just kept behind one day after assembly and plonked at desks to do it. Some children had practise books at home. None of them passed. My parents refused to practise because they said if I wasn't clever enough to pass it without practising I shouldn't be at grammar school! Have to say I agree with their sentiment. (I did pass by the way :) tell you what though - all that grammar school education and I still can't remember which practice/practise to use... ;)
  17. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    I did the 11 Plus in 1965. We did do some practice of past papers beforehand but did not spend virtually every lesson in the lead-up practising the papers as was the case in one Primary school in the catchment area of the girls' and boys' grammar schools.
    I remeber being told to look out for questions that were designed to trip you up, witht he example being "Which is heavier, a ton of feathers or a ton of coal?"
    We had a two papers that tested maths/logical thinking and verbal reasoning and we also had to write a composition.
    The trouble with the allocation of places was that it was not based on selecting pupils who met a defined standard each year as it was limited by the fixed number of places on offer. The girls' Catholic grammar school for my city had just 90 places. You could get in one year with a score that would be insufficient in another intake.
    My father was Head of our Primary school and was mortified when my brother
    and 8 other boys passed the 11 plus because one of the governor's
    daughters failed to get a place and she had scored higher than all the
    boys who passed!
    Years before, my father got a grammar school place with a score that was lower than that achieved by his 2 brothers, who both missed out on a place and ended up down the mines and in the shipyard as labourers.
    My brother got in by the skin of his teeth and was in the bottom set of his grammar school at first. At the end of term one, he was promoted to the middle set and by Easter he had been promoted again to the top set. By the end of that first year, half of the boys in the bottom set had been in the top set on joining the school and they all came from the same Primary school, where most of their last year had been spent being drilled in 11 Plus techniques and past papers. There must have been more academic boys in the city who failed to get a place.
    Three years down the line and comprehensive education was introduced. When the boys' grammar and secondary modern schools merged, quite a few boys from the secondary modern were soon promoted into the top 3 sets. One became a good friend of my brother and ended up with excellent O levels and A levels. Had he remained in the secondary modern he would not even have been entered for O levels and was already being groomed for work in the car factories. He went on to do Physics at university and is now a professor of Physics in the USA.

  18. PlymouthMaid

    PlymouthMaid Occasional commenter

    The problem with no practice at all these days is that the grammars would be dominated by ex private school pupils who are crammed for it and are generally also further ahead on the maths syllabus for instance. I tutor for 11+ because i want to level the playing field (and earn a living obviously). It is very unfair to give a child a paper containing algebra for instance if they have never seen it before.

    What was even more insidious in my day was the a selective school which used a test akin to the 11+ (it had been abolished by then) and then if a child passed the test, interviewed them and asked them what their Dad did for a living and what paper he reads! In my case it seemed ran an shop and read the Daily Mail were the wrong answers, what a surprise!
  19. jazz2

    jazz2 New commenter

    Buckinghamshire primary schools do not coach for the tests; it's not allowed and the regulations are very explicit. There are two familiarisation tests which are done in school - some primary schools don't even mark them, but do send them home.
    But a lot of coaching goes on, paid for privately by parents. I don't know if any of the private schools offer coaching, but since the tests are VR I doubt they really devote too much of their curriculum time to it - at that age, parents of privately-educated children are more likely to be interested in how well the school prepares them for the Common Entrance.
    The theory in Bucks is that VR can't be 'taught' but there are suggestions that they are beginning to accept that it can.
    There doesn't seem to be any definitive way to test for academic ability. I have very mixed feelings about the 11+, and can't quite make up my mind about it, especially knowing what I do about the level of coaching that goes on. But I do think that if there is any selection at all, 11 is just too young.
  20. PlymouthMaid

    PlymouthMaid Occasional commenter

    The skills can definitely be taught but only to kids who are bright and have a very good vocabulary in the first place. Here we have verbal reasoning and mathematics papers. The parents of the privately schooled primary kids tend to do the 11+ as they know that if the child passes, they will save lorry loads of cash.

Share This Page