As a parent looking for information about how best to prepare your child for the 11 Plus exams, you may have encountered the terms CEM and GL and wondered what on earth they refer to! When it comes to the 11 Plus, these terms refer to the main two assessment manufacturers who develop and provide the 11 Plus tests. They are:
- CEM (The Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring)
- GL Assessment
CEM design and build the following types of assessments:
- Baseline assessments to support schools with tracking their students
- Diagnostic assessments which help teachers to provide more tailored support to individual students
- Entrance assessments which help schools to identify the right students.
CEM, like GL Assessment who make the ISEB Common Pre-Test, develop and provide online adaptive tests for independent schools to use in the entrance procedures. It is worth noting that alongside making adaptive online assessments for independent schools, CEM also make paper-based assessments for Grammar Schools nationwide.
If your child will be taking a CEM 11 Plus Test, here are answers to some of the questions parents ask most frequently:
What is a Good CEM Score?
As with the UKiset and ISEB Common Pre-Tests, CEM tests are age standardised, and the most selective schools will be looking for higher than average standardised age scores.
Read more about standardised age scores in our article ISEB Pre test scores and pass mark.
The pass mark for CEM 11 Plus varies from school to school.
What is in the CEM exam?
School specific entrance examinations designed by CEM tend to be set out slightly differently to the ISEB Common Pre-Test or UKiset in that they assess the following three areas:
- Verbal Ability
- Numerical Ability
- Non-Verbal Ability
The Verbal Section of CEM tests assesses a student’s:
- Vocabulary: Topics include: synonyms, antonyms, hidden words, word completion, word in words, word relation, odd words out, words with dual meanings
- Grammar: Grammar exercises include punctuating unpunctuated sentences and spotting misused punctuation
- Cloze Procedure: The Verbal component also tends to include a cloze procedure exercise; this a reading comprehension activity in which words are omitted and students need to fill in the blanks from a list of possible options. Having a wide and varied vocabulary is key so it is important that students actively work on developing their vocabulary through reading and the exploration of word lists
- Reading Comprehension: The comprehension texts can be fiction or non-fiction and they have also been known to include poetry.
It is worth noting that the texts used in both the cloze procedure and the reading comprehension tend to be quite long and so students need to be resilient readers and ideally able to read quite quickly.
The Numerical Section focuses on the core topics from the National Curriculum which are typically taught up to Year 6. However, as the test is adaptive, it has been known that questions have stretched students beyond this. Topics commonly assessed include:
- Mental arithmetic
- Four operations
- And even algebra in some instances.
Crucially, questions also test a student’s problem-solving abilities. So students need to be comfortable thinking outside of the box and tackling multistep questions.
The Non-Verbal Reasoning Section covers the full gamit of NVR questions seen across all tests. Topics include:
- 3D shapes
Importantly, students should be familiar with all NVR questions types. They should identify areas of particular challenge and make sure they understand strategies to approach these types of questions.
What is the Format of the CEM Test?
CEM offer both online and paper based tests. However, more often that not independent schools use the online assessment. Independent Schools tend to use a CEM test called a CEM select test, a sample of which can be found here. Students report to feeling more time pressured than in other online adaptive tests. Students are also unable to go back and review a part of the test once it is completed.
What are the CEM Exam and Registration Dates?
The registration and exam dates are set by the school who is using the CEM test. Typically most schools used computerised Pre-Tests in Year 6, but some, such as Harrow School, do assess students in to Year 7.
Where can I Find CEM Test Questions and Practice Tests?
Once registered for an Independent Schools that uses the CEM Select tests as a part of their admissions process they tend to share this sample with applicants. Unfortunately, there are no past papers or assessments published by CEM other than this familiarisation test. As such, no tutor can claim to have in depth knowledge or experience of the tests themselves, in their current form. Thus, we recommend students develop a thorough knowledge of the 11+ Maths and English syllabus alongside the recommendation of computer practice for verbal and non-verbal reasoning.
For the first part, we would recommend strong 11 Plus English and Maths tutors who, in the absence of not being privy to the tests themselves, have experience of the calibre of school that your child is preparing for and thus knowledge of the standard that would be expected in order to be in a strong position to be offered a place.They also use resources, including the selection of paper-based resources below, to ensure that a child’s core knowledge of English, Maths and Reasoning is sound:
Galore Park: Galore park offer some great revision guides, particular on Verbal And Non-Verbal Reasoning, which breakdown individual questions types and detail strategies/approaches for tackling such questions. Although they are an affiliated publisher of the ISEB their resources also look to support those students sitting CEM tests.
Schofield and Sims: A leading publisher of educational literature. They are renowned for their English resources, but they provide booklets on Maths and Reasoning as well. There resources are very well designed, simply laid out and very approachable. They are also more cost effective than many others!
For the second part, we recommend students familiarise themselves with the format of computer-based testing by using the myriad of online platforms and resources out there. We would also recommend that students undertake as much computer based practice as possible from the wide variety of other web-based tests that are available. The more comfortable students can get with sitting tests on a computer the better. Key online resources include:
Atom Learning: Atom offers CEM specific tests on their online platform. How similar these tests are to the real thing is difficult to gauge, but Atom’s data analysis enables students to quickly gauge the areas they need to develop. They also provide practice activities in which they introduce students to strategies to tackle different question types.
BOFA Pre-Test: Again, offers lots of online testing and therefore familiarisation with this medium of testing. Although they do not yet offer CEM specific tests, students will be assessed on very similar content in English, Maths and reasoning.
Pre-Test Plus: This is another popular platform, however, it simply offers practice tests rather than preparatory learning activities. Like Atom Learning it offers CEM Select practice tests which reportedly give students a sense of what the real thing might be like!
Tution for the CEM test
Each year Keystone supports many students preparing for computerised Pre-tests and school entrance exams.
For more details, please contact one of our client managers in London, Hong Kong or Singapore or complete our request a tutor form.