11 Plus (11+) Help: GL VS CEM Explained with FREE Resources and Practice Questions!

calendar_todayNovember 26, 2021
11 Plus (11+) Help: GL VS CEM Explained with FREE Resources and Practice Questions!

A handy guide through the basics of the 11+ exam in general and a summary of the key differences between GL and CEM examination boards.

11 Plus (11+) Help: GL VS CEM Explained with FREE Resources and Practice Questions!

Although the 11+ exam preparation for your child may seem daunting at first, it doesn’t need to be with our support! We’re here to guide you through the basics of the exam in general and present a summary of the key differences between the two main test providers: GL (Granada Learning) and CEM (Centre for Evaluation & Monitoring).

What is the 11 Plus?
  • A non-compulsory academic selection entrance examination to secondary schools, including grammar schools and fee-paying independent schools*.
  • Examination process used solely in England, with Northern Irish grammar schools recently adopting the ‘Northern Ireland Transfer Test’ instead.
  • Tests are usually taken at the beginning of Year 6 in September. However, the majority of independent schools will have their entrance exams in January. Moreover, there is a possibility that pre-selection will take place even earlier, in November.
    (Tip: Please refer to individual schools’ and local authorities’ websites to find out more about specific examination timetables and requirements).

Note: *Independent schools commonly write their own exams and do not follow a uniform syllabus. Please scroll down for more information.

  • Previously known as NFER (National Education Foundation for Education Research)
  • Questions are chosen from a question bank
  • Practice papers are widely available
  • Aims to reduce any social disparities
  • Higher perceived difficulty
  • Questions follow closely to the National Curriculum
  • Buckinghamshire
  • Dorset
  • Kent
  • Lancashire & Cumbria
  • Lincolnshire
  • Medway
  • Northern Island
  • Berkshire
  • Bexley
  • Birmingham
  • Gloucestershire
  • Shropshire
  • Walsall
  • Warwickshire
  • Wolverhampton
Certain regions use a mixture:
  • Devon, Essex, Hertfordshire, Trafford, Wilshire, Wirral, Yorkshire
Separate subject papers:
  • English
    (Comprehension; Grammar; Spelling)
  • Maths
    (Times tables; Mental arithmetic; Four basic operations; Graphs; Geometry etc.)
  • Verbal Reasoning
    (Vocabulary; Logical reasoning)
  • Non-Verbal Reasoning
    (Visual analysis; Visual logic)
One mixed paper:
  • Verbal Reasoning
    (Can include skills you would find in the GL English exam)
  • Non-Verbal Reasoning
  • Numerical Reasoning
    (Can include skills you would find in the GL Maths exam)
  • Predominantly multiple choice.
    (Although some answers are required to be written in blank spaces)
  • No pre-determined format.
  • Dependent on year, region, and individual school.
  • Approximately 45 mins per paper
  • No pre-determined length.
  • Tight timings allocated to each section; careful time management skills are therefore required.
11 Plus Exams and Independent Schools:
  • Questions can be based on the GL and CEM 11+ exam boards, the Common Entrance Syllabus, and the National Curriculum for England. (Note: Essex use CSSE; Sutton and Surrey use SET, and more selective schools use ISEB).
  • Participating schools for the Common Entrance Exam:
    • Beneden School
    • Downe House School
    • Queen Anne’s School
    • Queenswood School
    • Sherbone Girls School
    • St Mary’s School
    • St Swithun’s School
    • Westonbirt School
    • Woldingham School
    • Wycombe Abbey School
  • Participating schools for the London 11+ Consortium Exam (An exam which only requires one sitting and results will be shared by all participating school members)
    • Channing School
    • Francis Holland School
    • Godolphin and Latymer School
    • More House School
    • Northwood College for Girls
    • Notting Hill and Ealing High School
    • Queen’s College London
    • Queen’s Gate School
    • South Hampstead High School
    • St Helen’s School London
    • St James Senior Girls’ School
When should my child start preparing for their 11+ exams?
  • Up to one year in advance- normally in September or January of Year 5.
  • For applications to independent schools, early applications are advised- some as early as Year 4! (Tip: Start drawing up a shortlist of potential schools that you are interested in. Go ahead and book open days as early as possible, so that you and your child can make the most out of your choices.)
At the end of the day, the amount of preparation time needed depends entirely on the individual child and their academic ability. However, in order to get the most out of your child’s 11 plus exam preparation to build the confidence that they need to succeed, why not get a head start by consulting one of our expert tutors here on LessonWise? – We’re happy to help! Additionally, you are able to download some of our FREE resources and practice questions, created by our very own talented tutors: