What Are the Differences Between the CEM and GL Assessment 11 Plus Exam?

CEM and GL refer to the different exam boards for the 11 plus examinations. These are the bodies that act as examiners for 11 Plus grammar schools. GL (Granada Learning, formerly known as NEFR) assessment is the most used body by grammar schools. CEM (Centre for Evaluation & Monitoring) was developed within a department at the University of Durham, is an exam designed in response to fears that the existing 11 plus exams had become overly predictive and it was too easy. In recent years there has been a move to CEM examinations in many regions. In some, a combination of GL Assessment and CEM exam papers are used.  There is a third exam board, ISEB (Independent Schools Examining Board), used by over 60 Independent Schools. 

What Subjects Do Both Exams Cover?

The GL assessment will cover four main topics:
  • English
  • Non-verbal reasoning 
  • Maths
  • Verbal reasoning
Whereas the CEM test is made up of:
  • Numerical reasoning
  • Non-verbal reasoning
  • Verbal reasoning
  • The verbal reasoning part of the CEM exam includes many of the skills covered in a GL Assessment English test and the numerical reasoning part of the exam covers the main Maths skills that would be tested in GL’s test.
  • CEM exams follow many more concepts in the KS2 Curriculum content than GL Assessment exams do.  

How Is the GL & CEM Test Formatted?

GL Assessment:  There can be two stages to this exam. Stage two is only used by the more selective grammar schools and independent schools.  GL exams are split by subject (English, Maths, Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning). These exams are either standard format (where answers are written in spaces next to question) or Multiple choice. GL takes its questions from the GL Assessment question bank and uses a variety of different question types across all four subjects (English, Maths, Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning) Through regular practice and preparation, pupils can familiarise themselves with question types they will see in the tests.  Stage one papers are multiple choice: English and Maths incorporating some Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. The length of the test papers often takes around 45-50 minutes.  Stage two papers are standard format. English exam consists of an open answer reading comprehension and a writing test, similar to an independent school exam format. The Maths test paper consists of arithmetic questions followed by challenging word problems.  CEM Exam: CEM exam usually consists of two 45-minute papers. CEM test papers are combined, with one exam consisting of English and Verbal Reasoning and another consisting of Maths and Non-Verbal Reasoning. The papers are split into sections, with varying numbers of questions and timings. Often more questions are provided than are likely to be answered. Children are only given a set amount of time to answer a section and cannot move forward until told to proceed. Standard format, multiple-choice or a mixture of both may be used depending on school/region.  The differences between the exams depend on where your child is taking the 11+. This makes it important to check with your Local Authority and the local grammar schools so that you know exactly what subjects and skills your child will be tested on as part of their 11+ exam. To find out how the 11+ exam is structured in your area, check the following details with your chosen school:
  • When the 11+ test is
  • Which subjects are tested
  • What format do the exams take
  • Who provides the exam

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