The difference between GL and CEM 11+ exams

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The 11+ exams are selective secondary school entrance tests that are usually taken at the beginning of Year 6. The two boards that conduct the 11+ exams are known as the Granada Learning (GL) and Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) boards. Which 11+ exam your child will sit is determined by the board your region has adopted. 

There are many similarities between the GL and CEM exams since they are largely based on the same subjects. However, some differences exist that parents and students should be aware of to increase their chances of success. Here’s a look at the two exams and how you can help your child ace it in 2020.

The GL board assessment exams

The GL 11+ exams cover English, Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning with different combinations dependent on a school’s selection criteria. The papers may be standard Q&A format or multiple-choice based, making it important for parents to know what the tests will involve to give their child the best chance of success. GL assessments use over 20 different Verbal Reasoning question types that involve word, code and number related questions. Non-Verbal Reasoning tests problem solving using patterns, shapes and abstract ideas to test students’ ability to think creatively about problems.

CEM board exams

The CEM 11+ exams cover Numerical, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. Verbal Reasoning includes many of the skills tested in the GL English exam with the Numerical Reasoning covering many of the skills tested in GL Maths. The CEM papers tend to be a mixture of subjects and can be both multiple choice and Q&A based. CEM 11+ tests are time-based which makes practice and preparation key for the best results. Once the allotted time has elapsed for a section, students cannot revisit that part of the paper.

Vocabulary is the most dominant subject of the CEM 11+ exams so be sure to give your child lots of practice on things like synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, grammar and sentence structure. Numerical Reasoning focuses on core topics in the National Curriculum with areas such as percentages, ratios, rates, multiplication, division, subtraction and addition being tested. Comprehension exercises may be based on fiction, non-fiction or poetry and pupils must read fluently and accurately for a good pass mark.

So why are there two exam boards?

The GL 11+ exams have gained a reputation for being somewhat predictable by critics who feel the assessment doesn’t test children adequately. Another criticism is that by simply learning answers in parrot fashion, students can easily ace their GL exams. With this said, there has been recent changes to the structure of the GL exams to make the exams more challenging for students. 

CEM tests were created by a research group based at the University of Durham who feared that GL exams simply are not challenging enough. One of its key goals was to eliminate the habit of learning answers in parrot fashion and instead encourage students to take an exploratory approach to subjects.

Does your child need help preparing for 11+ exams?

Boost Education centres have become hubs for quality tutoring services in areas such as Ilford, Slough, Stratford, Ealing, Southall and soon to be more. Our aim is to help primary school students master learning challenges early to set them on a path towards academic achievement. Our tutors are invested in making learning fun and engaging with small classes that ensure every child is afforded to learn at his or her own pace. We invite parents to visit their nearest Boost Education centre or book your child’s free learning assessment now.

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