The 11 Plus and Thinking Skills

At Eleven Plus Tutors Essex, we are firm believers in the power of developing robust thinking skills; in fact, thinking skills lie at the very heart of our tutorship. We do not just train children to regurgitate facts and memorise answers to past papers but look at developing higher-order thinking skills in children. We believe that each child can benefit from thinking skill development, so we introduce you to the six major thinking skills that we believe are essential in effective learning.

The Basic Premise

The basic premise behind thinking skills is that different types of questions require us to use various forms and levels of thought. A widely accepted theory behind this is known as Bloom’s taxonomy, which describes six categories of thinking forms.

The Six Thinking Skills

The six thinking skills are split into two separate groups: concrete thinking skills and critical thinking skills. The former is the more basic building block of thinking skills, and the latter requires more abstraction and a higher level of processing.

Knowledge, comprehension and application fall under concrete thinking skills and analysis, synthesis, and evaluation fall under critical thinking skills.

1) Knowledge

Knowledge requires the remembering or recalling of information to answer a set question.

The Right Questions:

Words and phrases that should be used to draw factual answers include: how many, when, where, list, define, tell, describe and identify.

Sample questions:

  • How many loaves in a baker’s dozen?
  • When did Henry VIII start his reign?

2) Comprehension

Comprehension requires an understanding of the meaning of informational materials.

The Right Questions:

Words such as describe, explain, estimate, predict, identify and differentiate should be used to encourage your child in their understanding, interpreting and extrapolating of meaning behind information.

Sample questions:

  • How does wheat turn into bread?
  • Name three important events during King Henry VIII’s reign.

3) Application

Application is where the student must apply previously learned knowledge in new situations that they haven’t experienced previously.

The Right Questions:

Words such as demonstrate, apply, illustrate, show, solve, examine, classify and experiment should help your child apply their existing knowledge to new situations that they may previously have never experienced.

Sample questions:

  • What do wheat and grass have in common? Can wheat be made into chocolate?
  • How did Henry VIII’s view on marriage stand at odds with the religious landscape in England at that time?

4) Analysis

Analysis requires that the student breaks down the information into various parts and examines how the data is organised and structured.

The Right Questions:

Key terms for helping your child analyse include differences, analyse, explain and compare, separate, classify and arrange.

Sample questions:

  • Name two differences between wheat and a daffodil.
  • Compare and contrast one difference that King Henry VIII made with one that Queen Victoria I made.

5) Synthesis

Synthesis requires the application of knowledge to combine various elements into a pattern that was not immediately apparent.

The Right Questions:

Key terms include: combine, rearrange, substitute, create, design, invent, and what if? It should be used to help your child in combining elements to form a new pattern.

Sample questions:

  • What may be the outcome if you substituted the flour with sugar when making bread?
  • What might happen if Henry VIII came to power today? What problems may occur?

6) Evaluation

Evaluation requires that the student judges or assesses according to specific criteria without an obvious right or wrong answer.

The Right Questions:

Keywords to help your child construct judgments from specific criteria include: assess, decide, measure, select, explain, conclude, compare and summarise.

Sample questions:

  • What do wheat and other plants have in common?
  • How do you think England may be different today if Henry VIII had never come to power?

Eleven Plus Tutors Essex are proud to lead the way in innovative and fully bespoke tutoring lessons. Our small team of professional and experienced teachers understand the value of developing a child’s thinking skills. Furthermore, they specialise in helping students who can excel, ensuring that every pupil achieves the results they deserve within the 11+ exams.