Are you thinking about the 11plus? Think multiple choice! Here’s why…

Half term has been full of teaching and tuition, which I absolutely love, and here’s the one urgent lesson that’s come out of every lesson, from Y3to Y5, and from every chat with parents after each lesson:

Multiple choice. Multiple choice. Multiple Choice. To put it another way –

Q: Which of the following is absolutely the gatekeeper to nearly all good grammar schools, and thus must form a huge part of you and your child’s 11 plus learning journey?

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A) Multiple choice

B) Multiple choice

C) Multiple choice

D) Multiple choice

E) All of the above

Of course, it’s E. This is a big, big deal. Nearly all grammar school tests use multiple choice tests as either the only test your child sits, or as a Stage 1 test which acts as a very real gatekeeper to a school’s Stage 2 test, which will be written, full answers and not multiple choice. Your child HAS to pass the multiple choice test to be invited to the Stage 2 test.

So, if your child is a brilliant writer of stories, persuasive letters, descriptions and full written comprehension answers that give brilliant explanations and answers, they may never get the chance to show their glory! Unless, until, they pass the multiple choice tests.

The solution? Patience, action and practice – but don’t just let them sit the papers. Teach them how to sit the papers. How do you do that? By exploring how they are laid out, by exploring the tricks and kinds of questions multiple choice tests are made up of.

For example, your child has to answer on a separate piece of paper by marking a series of lines like this:

Teach your child to beware of 3 dangers!

  1. Don’t think it’s easier because you don’t have to write anything. It’s a reading test, not a writing test. I’ll come back to this point in my next blog post.
  2. You can identify the correct answers on the question paper, perhaps by circling or underlining them, but forget to transfer the answer straight onto the answer sheet. Suppose your child finds the correct answers to the last five questions, but runs out of time to transfer them onto the sheet – they lose the five marks, even though they found the right answers. It’s best to transfer one answer at a time as soon as the correct answer is discovered.
  3. It’s very easy to mark the right answer in the wrong box. Suppose your child misses out a question that is taking too long. Suppose also that the next question turns out be easy to answer and they mark the correct letter on their sheet – but accidentally put it in the box that belonged to the previous question. Again, a mark missed. How often does this happen? Very often. Children sometimes don’t realise until they reach the end of their paper and find that either they have spare rows of answer boxes at the end, or else there is not enough space to answer the question they are on. Dangerously, if this isn’t realised until the end, there may not be enough time to figure out the first place they skipped or wrote in the right answer to the wrong question. This means lots of questions which they have answered correctly are all in the wrong place, so lots of points are lost. From one mistake comes wipe-out.

Encourage your child to dot or put a very small mark on the answer sheet next to the numbers of any questions they are leaving out, so they know a) to skip over that row of boxes, and b) can quickly return to any questions they missed out when they have finished the test. (They should have spare time left if they are using the 7 Superhero Powers of Time, which you can sign up to learn about for free on this website. The sign up form should be to the right of this post.)

Encourage them to do the simple repetitive step of checking that each question number matches the number on the answer sheet. Small step, huge difference.

So, wherever and however you are learning, remember: multiple choice, multiple choice, multiple choice.

Good energy and luck for today’s learning.

Stay 11 plus happy, Lee