In the history of intelligence testing, a distinction has been drawn between IQ (Innate quotient – the natural dormant intelligence which a person is born with) and AQ (Acquired quotient – ability that is acquired via study and application). There have been numerous debates about how these aspects are to be measured and whether or not IQ can be isolated from AQ.
This is not a debate we can address fully in this blog, but an increased focus on English in any testing regime raises some interesting issues. Ironically, it can be argued that such a strong concentration on English veers the test more in the AQ direction for many children, particularly if they come from ‘bookish’ middle class families and have grown up in a home where English is readily spoken and read. These children are surely more advantaged. It also favours the child who is naturally gifted at language skills, which could be identified by some intelligence testing experts as indicative of high IQ Although this would be argued by others as isolating one area as particularly significant over and above other important areas of skill, such as spatial, numerical and verbal reasoning, that are not solely language based. It is an also an area in which relatively few children are exceptionally gifted.
Given this new exam and the fact that is unlikely to change in the short term, what are parents to do? They can only respond to the new test in the best way possible and try and ensure their children are not disadvantaged and have the best chance of success.
Because English skills take time and effort to develop, the best way to build up a child’s AQ in this area is to focus on good ‘how to do it’ technique with regard to Syntax, Grammar, Spelling and Comprehension and to build a child’s vocabulary skills with constant exposure to literary text and writing practise. AE Publications books are designed to do just that. AEP’s Spelling and Vocabulary series is designed to build a child’s vocabulary to over 5,000 words. The series of Synonym, Antonym and Homonym books will help children develop an understanding of comparative word meanings and the subtlety of language nuance. The new Comprehension books will aid children in approaching literary text so they are able to grasp its meaning quickly and answer questions effectively.
A strong grasp of the English language is also essential for understanding and being able to answer Maths questions in the CEM tests. Numerical Reasoning, as it has been dubbed by CEM, focuses more on problem solving Maths, which has wordy explanations. These have to be deciphered by the child before any basic algorithm can be applied. Improving a child’s comprehension skills is crucial, otherwise they may find that, even if they are good at Maths, it will be poor English that will impair their overall performance.