CEM exam was developed by the Centre for Evaluation & Monitoring at the University of Durham, in response to fears from some grammar schools that the existing 11+ exam system had become too transparent and was designed to address concerns over question spotting and ‘teaching to the test’.

It is used within these regions: Berkshire, Bexley, Birmingham, Buckinghamshire, Devon, Gloucestershire, Shropshire, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wirral, Wolverhampton.

CEM exam is taken towards the end of Year 5 or the beginning of Year 6 at primary school. The content of the 11-plus exam will vary dependent on the area of the country you are within, but generally it will focus on a combination of the following four subjects:

  • English
  • Maths
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Non-verbal Reasoning/Spatial Awareness

English tests include grammar, punctuation and spelling, but its main focus is on reading comprehension and vocabulary. In practice, ‘verbal reasoning’ encompasses many of the skills, including comprehension.Furthermore, Maths this includes strong arithmetic skills and the ability to apply mathematical learning to problem-solving and data manipulation. For tests that include non-verbal reasoning or spatial awareness, logical skills will be required, such as testing the ability to crack codes, visualise 3D shapes, and so on.

In addition, the paper may quickly flit between a short maths section, a longer problem-solving exercise, then some logic puzzle, the timings will be allocated to each section, and children will need to carefully manage the time they spend on each section. As therefore within CEM-examined tests, time management skills are of great importance, it is vital to make sure your child does plenty of timed practice and is aware how to manage their time carefully and effectively. In order to do this, a recommendation is to use practice test papers under exam conditions in order to help them get used to formal exam conditions and this will help them feel  getting used to working in test conditions will help your child feel less intimidated when it comes to doing the real exam.