Your correspondents need to read more of the literature surrounding assessment when commenting on the proposed new university entrance test (Letters, April 22).
Thinking skills is a discipline that has had two decades of research dedicated to it - I recommend Critical Thinking: An Introduction and The Logic of Real Arguments , both by Alec Fisher, for the serious student, together with Critical Thinking for Students by Roy Van Den Brink-Budgen for the classroom practitioner. Further, multiple-choice style, when created by those who know what they are doing, is a valid and reliable assessment method.
The questions are by no means "half-baked". The country in general and academics in particular need to get away from the idea that questions are scribbled on the back of a cigarette packet some two weeks before an examination is taken. Question setting is a highly sophisticated enterprise taking a great deal of time and resource. Our research divisions are substantial and all questions are pre-tested and calibrated using the best assessment practice. Finally, I am happy to provide the explanation of "plausible reasoning". Plausible reasoning involves thinking that is analogical and associative rather than logico-deductive. "We secure our knowledge by demonstrative reasoning, but we support our conjectures by plausible reasoning" ( Mathematics and Plausible Reasoning , G. Polya, Princeton, 1954).
Perhaps what is most interesting is that none of your correspondents had a better idea to support the access agenda - other than to suggest that UK exam boards produce "harder" A levels (whatever those are).
Ron McLone and J. Bene't M. Steinberg
Cambridge University Local Examinations Syndicate