CEM 11+ Tests

"CEM" stands for Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring, this 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 uses the name "Transfer Tests" rather than "Eleven Plus"). Ironically Buckinghamshire County Council no longer uses the CEM 11 plus.

The CEM 11 plus test was introduced in 2012 and is currently used in Bexley, Birmingham, Devon, Enfield, Gloucestershire, Reading, Redbridge, Slough, Shropshire, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wiltshire, Wirral and Wolverhampton as well as in Torbay (in combination with English and mathematics tests set by the grammar schools). Chelmsford County High School for Girls also uses the CEM test unlike the rest of the schools in the Consortium of Selective Schools in Essex.

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 around 30 pupils in NVR in the last year I can assure you that practice helps enormously!]

There are usually two CEM tests which are approximately 50 minutes long (probably 45 minutes worth of questions and five minutes of instructions), 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.

Instructions are given on an audio soundtrack. The scores from the two tests are added together and a Standardised Secondary Transfer Test Score (STTS) will be calculated comprising 50% of the standardised score for the verbal sections (verbal reasoning and English comprehension), 30% of the standardised score for the numerical sections, 20% of the standardised score for the non-verbal sections. Possible scores range from 40 to 180+; a score of 121 or more is considered as grammar school standard, but the score needed to obtain a grammar school place will vary depending on the local authority and grammar school concerned.

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