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The differences between GL Assessment and CEM 11+ tests

The 11+ tests used by secondary schools to help decide which pupils to select are often written by either Granada Learning (GL) or CEM (Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring). This blog provides an insight into the differences between these exam boards and outlines how best to prepare for each 11+ test. It has been written by Chris Pearse, author of several Hodder Education (formerly Galore Park) Verbal Reasoning resources.​

What are the differences between GL assessment and CEM?

The 11+ tests used by secondary schools to help decide which pupils to select are often written by either Granada Learning (GL) or CEM (Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring). This blog provides an insight into the differences between these exam boards and outline how best to prepare for each 11+ test. It is also important to recognise that the exam boards can alter the question types each year and these examinations are about testing your child’s academic skills, rather than teaching to test.

GL assessment

The GL assessment 11+ exams include English, Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. You can pre-order specific GL practice papers from Galore Park. Depending on the authority GL will select all these subjects or a different combination of the four areas. In Buckinghamshire they have recently reverted back to GL assessment (covering all four subjects). There are 13 Grammar schools in this authority including John Hampden and William Sir Borlase’s Grammar School. GL also set the 11+ tests in the following authorities:  Dorset, Kent, Lancashire and Cumbria, Lincolnshire, Medway, Northern Ireland, Wiltshire. The papers taken can be standard or multiple-choice versions and it is important you find out what the actual 11+ will involve, so your child is given the most authentic practice. In the standard version you write your answer in the test booklet, while in a multiple-choice format you pick the correct answer from several options that you are given. Students taking a GL assessment 11+ test should start by becoming familiar with the different question types. GL assessment use 21 different Verbal Reasoning question types that involve word, code and number related questions. Non-Verbal Reasoning tests the ability to solve problems using patterns and shapes.

Mathematics will be tested in line with the new National Curriculum and will cover a variety of curriculum areas taught in schools up to the start of year 6. Typically, aspects of number, measurement, geometry and statistics are tested.

CEM (Centre for Evaluation & Monitoring)

CEM also produce 11+ entrance tests for schools and local authorities. You can pre-order specific CEM practice papers from Galore Park. CEM set the examination in Berkshire and this includes the Slough Consortium (Herschel, Upton Court, St Bernard’s and Langley Grammar Schools). This also includes both Kendrick School (Girls) and Reading School (Boys). Other authorities CEM operate in are: Bexley, Birmingham, Buckinghamshire, Devon, Gloucestershire, Shropshire, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wirral and Wolverhampton. CEM uses Verbal (including comprehensions and cloze passages), non-verbal and numerical reasoning as the core subjects. The CEM papers tend to be a mixture of the above subjects and are partially multiple choice and partially written answers. The CEM test is very time pressured and this is accentuated by subdividing the paper into timed sections. Once the time has elapsed in a section, the child cannot revisit that part of the paper again. Vocabulary is the most dominant subject and often the most demanding aspect of the CEM 11+ exam. Hence, building your child’s word knowledge – synonyms, antonyms, homonyms is important.

The numerical reasoning sections will concentrate on the core topics in the National Curriculum, but often it is seen that the problems/concepts are beyond their years. The areas tested might include percentages, ratio or algebra that might not be taught until year 6 or beyond. Therefore, it is essential your child has been shown how to solve more complex multi-step word problems.

The comprehension exercise can be based on fiction, non-fiction or even a poem. Pupils must be able to read fluently and accurately. If a child is a slow reader this can hinder their chances of scoring highly; as there are quite a few questions to answer about the text (e.g. 20 questions in 15 minutes). Giving your child plenty of opportunities to read a variety of genres is always recommended.

The Non-Verbal Reasoning (NVR) sections of the CEM examination represent about 20% of the entire test and can include spatial or 2-dimensional question types. Having familiarity with these question types is important and developing these NVR skills.

The 11+ Hodder Education (formerly Galore Park) revision series provides a platform for developing confidence in all the topic areas mentioned in this article for both CEM and GL exams. These materials will improve your child’s response rates and identify areas of development.

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