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GL vs CEM Key Differences in 11 Plus Examinations

difference between gl and cem, which is harder gl or cem, what is cem test, what is gl assessment, cem grammar schools, gl testing for schools

GL vs CEM: Understanding the Key Differences in 11 Plus Examinations

The 11 Plus examination is a critical aspect of the education system in the UK and is used to determine eligibility for entry into selective grammar schools. With many options available, choosing the right exam board can be challenging for parents and students. Two of the most popular 11 Plus exam boards are GL Assessment and Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM). This blog post will explain the key differences between GL and CEM, helping you decide which exam board to choose and how to prepare for them.

Comparing GL and CEM: 11 Plus Exam Boards

GL Assessment and CEM are two of the leading 11 Plus exam boards in the UK. Both exam boards have a long history of providing high-quality assessments, but they have distinct approaches to testing and place different emphases on skills. The 11 Plus exams are a crucial part of the educational journey for UK children who want to attend a Grammar School. The two predominant examiners are CEM and GL Assessment.

What is GL Assessment?

GL Assessment was formerly known as NFER and was renamed in 2007. They develop and administer 11 Plus exams in many Grammar School areas, covering English, Maths, Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning. Grammar schools can administer all subjects or only select the ones that best meet their requirements.

What are CEM 11 Plus Exams?

On the other hand, CEM exams are developed by the Centre for Evaluation & Monitoring at Cambridge Assessment. So, the educational bodies introduced these exams in response to fears that existing 11 Plus exams had become too transparent. To minimise “teaching to the test,” CEM does not publish practice materials and changes the format of the exams.

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Key Differences Between CEM and GL Assessment 

In recent years, there has been a shift towards CEM exams in many regions, with some regions using GL Assessment and CEM exams in combination.

Subjects for 11 Plus Exams: CEM vs GL

  • GL Assessment offers English, Maths, verbal, and non-verbal reasoning exams. Schools can administer all subjects or choose specific subjects that fit their needs. 
  • CEM, on the other hand, offers exams in verbal, non-verbal, and numerical reasoning. The verbal reasoning exam covers skills similar to those tested in GL Assessment’s English test, and the numerical reasoning exam tests the main mathematical skills covered in GL Assessment’s maths exam papers.

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Exam Paper Format: CEM vs GL 

  • GL testing for school exams are divided into English, mathematics, verbal reasoning, and non-verbal reasoning. The questions are selected from GL’s question banks, which makes regular practice beneficial as it helps children become familiar with the types of questions they will face. Students can write answers in a blank space next to the question or be multiple-choice and answer in a separate book. 
  • CEM exams, however, do not separate subjects by paper. Typically, one paper will assess English and verbal reasoning skills, while the other tests mathematical and non-verbal reasoning skills. The exam papers are structured in sections that may switch from short maths problems to non-verbal questions to worded problems. So, questions can be standard or multiple-choice, with answers recorded in a separate answer book. The weighting of each subject in the exam is unknown beforehand due to the mixed nature of the papers.

Exam Timings: CEM vs GL 

The duration of each GL Assessment exam is generally 45 minutes. However, this may vary. As for CEM exams, the format may change annually, and the schools may provide information regarding the current format on their websites. Some of the past formats for CEM exams include:

  • The CEM exams typically consist of two 45-minute papers, separated by a short break. The papers are composed of a mix of topics encompassing English, Maths, Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning and numerical reasoning (maths).
    They are divided into sections with unpredictable questions and varying time allowances. More questions are often presented that students need to answer, and students are allotted a specific time limit to complete each section, unable to move on until instructed.
  • Four separate exams are given, each testing a distinct subject: English, verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, and mathematics.
  • The exam format varies, with one paper covering multiple topics or just one specific discipline chosen by the school.

Knowledge and Skills: CEM vs GL 

  • GL exams assess a range of 21 different verbal reasoning skills, whereas CEM exams prioritise a broader vocabulary.
  • CEM exams are more closely aligned with the KS2 National Curriculum content than GL Assessment exams. However, preparing for GL Assessment exams can be helpful due to their “question bank” format.

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