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What is the CEM Eleven Plus Exam?

"CEM" stands for Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring and is a research group which is associated with the University of Durham School of Education. They have developed a range of assessment tests for primary and secondary school pupils in the UK and abroad over the last 30 years. More recently they have developed the supposedly tutor proof test for the Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools (Buckinghamshire now uses the name "Transfer Tests" rather than "Eleven Plus").

 

The CEM 11 plus test was introduced in 2012 and is currently used in Buckinghamshire, Bexley, Birmingham, Gloucestershire, Shropshire, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wolverhampton and parts of Essex and London as well as in Torbay (in combination with English and mathematics tests set by the grammar schools).

 

The CEM attempt to make the 11 plus untutorable by...

(1) Basing a significant number of questions on English and maths which a child would expect to cover in school;

 

(2) Eliminating verbal reasoning (VR) questions which rely on learning a system e.g. codes and sequences;

 

(3) Using verbal reasoning questions which require knowledge of the meanings of words

 

(4) Using non-verbal reasoning (NVR) which is similar to IQ test questions and is supposed to test innate intelligence rather than practice [however, having tutored 37 pupils in NVR so far I can assure you that practice helps enormously!]

 

The are usually two CEM tests which are approximately 50 minutes long, each divided into a number of short sections to be completed in a set amount of time. The sections consist of VR, NVR, comprehension and maths. These broad topics are subdivided into sections such as data, long maths and short maths.

 

How to help your child prepare for the CEM 11 plus exam  

The CEM does not produce any practice materials. However, it does produce familiarisation booklets available through schools (for example Torquay Boys' Grammar School) and local authorities (for example Buckinghamshire County Council). Although the CEM states that it alters the test each year it is unlikely that the test will vary significantly from one year to the next so some of the educational publishers have produced CEM-style practice materials. Roots 2 Success has produced a number of CEM-style 11 plus online tests available on our new interactive website. Apart from purchasing practice materials, parents should seriously consider engaging a tutor for your child (much less stressful than trying to do it yourself as I can testify). You could also try:

 

> asking your child's teacher for extra work in English and maths;

> encouraging reading by regular trips to your local library;

> encouraging your child to watch educational TV programmes;

> encouraging your child to use educational websites;

> helping your child to learn their times tables;

 

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