Top critical review
15 people found this helpful
Could do better
on 22 September 2012
Having seen a number of positive reviews for this set of papers, I dutifully added them to my collection of resources to use with the 10 year old I'm tutoring.
I always take the papers myself (using rough paper and traditional method rather than the enclosed multiple choice booklet... we didn't get multiple choice when I sat the 11+!) before passing them on, and found myself slightly disappointed in the quality of these: the questions simply haven't been fully checked to ensure the solid footing of answers. The multiple choice answer format CAN help resolve problems with ambiguous questions, but even this isn't always reliable.
In Test 1 alone I came across 2 questions where more than one answer was possible. Question 2 (of the type: move one letter from the first word to the second word to create 2 new, valid, words without reshuffling the letters) is deemed correct if the letter moved is 's'... with 'curse' and 'tar' becoming 'cure' and star'... BUT 2 valid words (without reconfiguration) are also attainable if the letter moved is 'e'... generating 'curs' and 'tear'. The multiple choice format does nothing to save you/your child here: since it's one of the letters of 'curse', 'e' is included in the set of possible responses.
In similar fashion, in Question 39 where the candidate is asked to complete 4 words with a single missing letter la_, _ill, pa_, _ant... 'w' is prescribed, generating 'law', 'will', 'paw' and 'want'. However 'p' can also be used: generating 'lap', 'pill', 'pap' and 'pant'. It's not offered on the multiple choice answer sheet, so this is mainly a problem if you're using the test in the traditional fashion/bought the traditional set.
I was also disappointed to note that in Question 49 on the same test the two vocabulary items deemed most opposite to one another ('repair' and 'injure') are EXACTLY the same two words that are featured in the illustrative example for the 'question type' section. Which makes this particular question a bit of a no-brainer! Admittedly, the tests are supposed to increase in difficulty... however this just seems slapdash!
Having found a number of flaws in Test 1, I did a quick skim of Tests 2-4 and found easily identified errors/ambiguities in both Test 2 and Test 3.
Question 34 of Test 2 (complete the word with a missing 3 letter word) wants users to find INSTANTLY from INSTLY. ANT is the answer given in the booklet, however either ANT or TAN is possible as there's nothing to determine ordering/sequence of deleted letters. Thus the T that's present could be either word-final OR word-initial.
Question 1 of Test 3 (of the type: move one letter from the first word to the second word to create 2 new, valid, words without reshuffling the letters) is deemed correct if the letter moved is 'l'... with 'learn' and 'sea' generating 'earn' and 'seal'. However, moving 'r' ALSO produces valid words under the same constraints: 'lean' and 'sear'.
In neither of the Test 2 or Test 3 problematic questions does the multiple choice format provide any help: the ambiguous answers are included as options on the test paper.
This isn't the most generous of paper selections either. The inclusion of 4 test papers is fairly standard, but the parents' guide, candidate record and answer sheet are on a single sheet of paper (4 sides in total) that needs to be detached from the multiple choice answer booklet before it is used. The guide is really limited - consisting of one page only, and there's no work through/explanation of the answers.
The limited parent information included here relates quite strictly to speed of test taking skill and the approximate percentage score needed to pass the test. There is a bit of a disclaimer surrounding this (64/80 = the minimum score for possible 11+ entry). Perhaps because i) required baseline IQ levels vary from school to school; ii) scarcity of grammar school places, high demand and the abolition of catchment areas can drive the pass level up: the thing that's written in stone is the number of places in the school's intake year!
The language used in the parent information is somewhat outdated and sexist, consistently referring to 'your child' in the masculine singular.
Once you get round these problems, there's an underlyingly decent set of papers which add to the range of test papers available for candidate practice... but there are better sets with fewer ambiguities and more detailed guidance/explanation of answers.