Specialist 11 Plus Teaching

To help you prepare your child for the 11+, we’ve summarised the key differences between GL, CEM and Essex exams:


GL Assessment:

Traditionally, almost all grammar school selection was done through NFER (National Foundation for Educational Research).

NFER was purchased by Granada Learning in 2007 and re-named ‘GL Assessment’. Since that time, GL Assessment have developed and administered 11+ exams in the majority of grammar schools in the UK.


CEM (Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring) began in Newcastle University in 1981 to evaluate the impact of government initiatives in education, moving to Durham University in 1996.

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

Upon launch, the CEM exam was favoured by some regions and schools as it was seen as more ‘tutor-proof’, with much emphasis placed on: CEM not producing or endorsing any published practice papers, the continually changing format of the tests, and the perceived increase in difficulty. Of their approach, CEM have stated: “CEM aims to reduce any disadvantage created between children who are tutored for tests and those who are not. We firmly believe that children should not be tutored for our selection assessments.”


5 years on, some boroughs are finding that the CEM paper is not ‘tutor proof’ and have switched back to GL Assessment style testing.


GL Assessment: Dorset, Kent, Lancashire & Cumbria, Lincolnshire, Medway, Northern Ireland, Wiltshire. Buckinghamshire

CEM: Berkshire, Bexley, Birmingham, Devon, Gloucestershire, Shropshire, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wirral, Wolverhampton, Essex

GL and CEM: Devon, Hertfordshire, Trafford, Yorkshire.

CSSE: Essex

NB: Please note that these lists were correct at the time of publication. Schools and regions do change exam boards, so it’s essential that you check with each grammar school that you apply to as to what exam board it uses.


  • Silo Endeley
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