Everything you need to know about the CEM 11+ exam: 2020 edition

If you are looking for your child to attend a grammar school or an independent school, then the 11+ entrance exam will be familiar to you. 

There are a few exam boards that schools can choose from to assess a child’s likelihood of succeeding in a certain academic environment. In 2013, many schools transitioned from GL assessments to CEM. CEM, which stands for Centre of Evaluation and Monitoring, is a research group based at the School of Education at the University of Durham. Most secondary transfer exams are taken in the Fall of Year 6 in preparation for Year 7. Please check with your school to ensure dates are up to date in line with the Covid-19 arrangements.

Poster explaining the Entrance exams for CEM 11+

What is CEM assessment testing?

CEM entrance assessments are used primarily by grammar schools and independent schools to accurately measure a child’s potential. CEM assessments are used in 7+ and 11+ exams. They are written in the Fall of the child’s Year 6 academic year in preparation for secondary school. These exams assess numerical reasoning, non-verbal and verbal reasoning.

What does CEM stand for?

CEM stands for the Centre of Evaluating and Monitoring. They are based out of the University of Durham.

How do I prepare for the CEM 11+ exams?

The CEM 11+ entrance exam is designed for students to take the test without studying. They deliberately do not release practice papers (unlike GL assessment) in an effort to prevent children from over preparing. Scroll down for some familiarisation papers shared by them for the 2020 academic year.

Bettering Youth believes that while tutoring for the exam may not be necessary, there are key elements students should prepare for. Our mindfulness tuition programmes prepare students for the academic and tactical undertaking of the exam. Bettering Youth tutors teach children to understand what is expected on the exam, handle performance anxiety, study effectively and other key skills which will allow the child to showcase their knowledge.

What is the CEM exam paper format?

Unlike the GL Assessment papers, CEM 11+ exam papers will not split the papers into subjects. Commonly, papers will ask non-verbal and maths questions in one paper, and verbal reasoning and english questions in the other. Although, it depends on the year as some papers have been provided as four individual papers, two 45 minute papers or one paper covering a variety of questions. Be sure to check with your school of choice for more guidance.

What is the answer format for the CEM exams?

Standard question format is possible, however multiple choice is popular.

What will the CEM paper assess?

While there is no concrete evidence that outlines what the CEM 11+ entrance exam will test for, feedback over the last few years indicate that it is very much in line with the National Curriculum. Vocabulary is a strong requirement. Some topics fall under this area:

  • Word recognition
  • Comprehension
  • Word decoding
  • General mathematics
  • Mental arithmetic
  • Spelling
  • Non verbal reasoning

Which counties and schools use CEM assessment for the 11+ exams?

*Please note this list was up to date when published in September of 2020. Please check with your school of choice to ensure accurate information.

Familiarisation papers for the CEM exams:

Non Verbal Reasoning Booklet

Verbal Reasoning Comprehension Booklet

Verbal Reasoning Word Choice Booklet

Maths Booklet

Does my child need a tutor?

The 11+ entrance exams are indicators of your child’s ability to strive in an academic environment. As such, ensuring your child feels confident with the National Curriculum and preparing them for the types of questions and exam layout can ensure a more confident approach to the exam. This is why Bettering Youth offers exam preparation for pre-year 4s, year 4s and year 5s. We believe learning should be personalised, fun, and also teach the child how to deal with stress and performance anxiety.

If you would like to discuss your child’s exam, or book a free no obligation tester session please click here.

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