CEM 11 Plus

The eleven-plus (11-plus) or transfer test generally refers an examination taken by some children in England and Northern Ireland in their final year of primary school education, which determines whether they are admitted to a state grammar schools which use academic selection. The exam is taken in September of year 6 when most children are generally 10 years old. The term 11+ refers to the age of a child entering secondary education: 11 years+.

A Brief History of the Eleven-plus (11-plus) Exam & Grammar Schools

Many of the schools established after the 1870s were grammar schools, which offered places based of the results of an entrance test, dubbed the eleven plus. Places were highly sought after and viewed as offering a high chance of future success and prosperity. These schools were widely respected and became the foundations of the tier-structured education reforms of the 1940s. At the time secondary education was mainly the preserve of the middle classes. In 1938 a mere 13% of 13 year-old children from working class backgrounds were still in school.

The 1944 Butler Education Act and Education (Northern Ireland) Act 1947 radically overhauled the UK education system. Free secondary education was to become universally available coupled with financial assistance for poorer students. The act intended provide children with the type of education that most suited their abilities and needs. Children sat the exam, which determined which type of secondary school they would attend, and effectively their future.

The Tripartite System was established comprising of grammar schools; secondary technical schools and secondary modern schools which was in use prevalent from 1944 until 1976, by which time it as phased out because very few technical schools were established due to the lack of investment and a shortage of suitably qualified teachers. This undermined the reforms, as the tripartite system became a two-tier system with grammar schools for the academic students and secondary modern schools for the rest.

Grammar schools received most funding and were regarded as best schools, taking in 25% of students, whilst the secondary moderns were under-funded and suffered neglect. They soon gained a poor reputation and regarded as the bottom tier schools.

Until 1976, all children sat an exam during their final year at primary school aged between 10 and 11 years. The exam comprised of three papers: mathematical reasoning; general reasoning, and an essay. There was no official pass or fail, but ultimately with an effective two-tier system children who did not gain a place at a grammar school were regarded as failing the eleven plus. Those who "passed" the eleven plus were perceived to have gained a passport for success.

Different types of schools entered their students for different exams at age 16. Grammar school students took "O” levels and students at Secondary Moderns initially did not take any exams, until regional exam boards offered less demanding qualifications, comparable to CSEs which were established in 1965. These Secondary Moderns soon entered brighter children for “O" levels and fair number achieved grades comparable to grammar school students, which undermined selection using the eleven-plus and the Tripartite streaming at a young age.

Realistically only children who attended grammar schools had chance of going to university as most secondary moderns did not offer "A” levels and did not offer facilities to prepare students for Oxford and Cambridge entrance exams. Oxbridge was out of the question. As a result many people began to question whether grammar schools promoted social mobility or created a new elite and corresponding underclass.

Middle class children were much more likely enter grammar schools which fostered fears that society was being divided into a well-educated middle class elite with working class children trapped in the under-performing Secondary Modern schools with a poor outlook. To counteract this it was believed every child should attend the same type of school under a comprehensive system.

The Tripartite system was abandoned on 1958 after an experiment with comprehensive schools began in 1949. The abolition of selection and was thought to be beneficial to those entering comprehensive schools due to a mixture of the ability of the intake, which were often taught in streamed classes for selective subjects.

As eleven-plus tests became less subject to class bias an increasing proportion of middle class children ended up at secondary moderns and some middle class parents were annoyed that the social mobility worked against them.

By 1965 the Tripartite System was almost defunct, with the emergence of Comprehensive Schools. Funds began to be withheld from new non-comprehensives. The 1976 Education Act banned selection of pupils by ability, marking an end the Tripartite System. Grammars were closed and many children simply transferred to the private sector. However the ban on selection did not last long and was allowed in 1979.

There is currently a ban on new grammar schools opening, but expansion of existing schools is encouraged, resulting in an increase in pupils attending the remaining 164 state grammar schools in England. Controversially, satellite grammar schools are allowed, which is claimed to circumvent the ban on new schools.

The final sting in the tail for the middle class is priority for grammar school admission for pupil premium qualified children and a two-tier qualifying score. In many areas pupil premium children can gain entry at lower scores than others and can benefit from free tuition (for a so called "tutor-proof" test), via an outreach programme, from people who have seen actual eleven-plus tests, which are not released in to the public domain. This is despite a ban on eleven-plus preparation by state primary schools. This is once again driving the middle class in to private schools.


11+ Exams

There are numerous organisations that create entrance exams for secondary school admission. The main supplier is GL Assessment (GLA)®. CEM® . Cambridge, have pulled out of paper-based 11+ tests leaving the field wide open to GL Assessment. CEM provide online test using CEM Select and are mainly used by private schools. A A few small state schools use these tests.

CEM Centre and GLA

Both sets secondary school entrance assessments (widely referred to as selective entrance or 11+ exams) for various English grammar schools and regions, including Bexley; BirminghamBuckinghamshire; CCHS (Essex); Gloucestershire; Henrietta Barnett & LatymerReadingRedbridgeShropshire; Slough; WalsallWarwickshire; Wolverhampton; Trafford; Bexley; Torbay & DevonKent Shepway, and Medway .

GL Assessment
® (formally National Foundation for Educational Research®) is another supplier. Every year GL Assessment® constructs new, custom-made selection tests for many schools and Local Authorities. Although GL Assessment® is the copyright holder of the tests, it is the property of the commissioning school or Local Authority for the duration of use.

Both tests are easy to prepare for using WordBuilder.co.uk and CoolCleverKids.co.uk.

Purchase Mock Exams from the Shop

Past eleven plus papers set by CEM Centre® Cambridge University are not released and cannot be purchased. Usually, two weeks before the test, applicants receive a sample sheet containing example questions.

The new tests from GL Assessment® are similar in to tests from the University of Durham®  as far as content is concerned. The move is towards a rich vocabulary, curriculum maths (old level 5 and 6, now a score of 105+) and NVR. The difficulty is tailored for GL 11+ (Grade Level 11+).
Children`s Educational Material for the 11+ has constructed seven practice mock exams. These mock test packs consists of two 50-60 minute papers as well as answers and are available from the shop.

These are NOT endorsed or associated with CEM Centre for Evaluation & Monitoring® who do not provide preparation material. They are also suitable for the new GL Assessment® and ISEB selection tests.

Warwickshire and Birmingham Consortium

From 2016, Warwickshire shares Birmingham 11+ Consortium test, so 5000 Birmingham students and 2000 Warwickshire students can pass on content to late Warwickshire sitters. The shared test will now require students to mark answers on a separate answer sheet and no longer write answers in a booklet, increasing the chances of marking answers in the incorrect place as has occurred numerous times in other regions. If a test is shared, with other regions, always tick a box to share results with another areas as a backup plan. You have nothing to lose by doing so, and it could prove useful. You never know what may happen.

In 2013, the Lawrence Sheriff School in Rugby unlawfully withdrew a place of a child days before the end of year 6 despite the local authority refusing to withdraw the place on four occasions. Luckily the child was offered a place at Schools in two different areas (Walsall and Birmingham) as opposed to be left unplaced because of serious failings of this school. Unfortunately, the child displaced other innocent children, through no fault of his own when he moved straight to the top of waiting lists and was offered places. Play safe and share results with other schools and areas even if you have no intention of taking up a place in other areas.


Free Mock Exams

Taking a "free mock" will cost the school money. But one would expect financially astute schools to consider the financial implications of setting an early test date. Common sense dictates an earlier test is likely to be used as a "free mock" and this has been well known to occur for many years.

We recommend all children, where possible, register for the Warwickshire 11+ tests.

Mock tests are the best way to prepare. What better than using a real test as a mock? This is your legal right.

We believe there is no evidence that any 11+ tests are resistant to prepping and practise will simply improve performance


Non-verbal Reasoning

Prepare for different types of NVR questions  using


over 30 different types of NVR question examples
with explanations.

Available to download from the shop.

11+ Testing and Moray House
During the 21st century there has been a change in eleven-plus testing. The prominent suppliers of the 11+ tests were initially Moray house and NFER.

At the beginning of this century many schools used eleven plus verbal reasoning papers from Moray House (Edinburgh University). These were typically verbal reasoning questions.

Eight different papers that were supplied to schools and tests rotated every few years. This meant that the same tests were used in every few years.

However, these papers got in to the hand of private tutors who coached their students using the actual test papers. There were major scandals with accusations of organised cheating.

For example in 2017 a total of 123 children who sat the Warwickshire 11+ obtained perfect scores of 100 per cent - approximately one in eight of all candidates. This marked the beginning of the end for Moray House 11+ tests.
The Emergence of CEM & GL Assessment Tests

Then came CEM Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring. Many schools claimed they were sold CEM exams on the basis they were tutor proof, this without any evidence. CEM certainly did not undertake any research in to this claim.

These new tests comprised of two papers. Each 50-minute test comprised of short timed sections interchanging between comprehension; synonyms; antonyms; cloze tests; jumbled sentences; maths; data-processing and non-verbal reasoning.

Buckinghamshire County Council left their old supplier, signed up to CEM and after 5 years of admitting fewer poorer children, CEM were spectacularly dumped and tests reverted to GL Assessment (previously NFER). All CEM achieved was an explosion in tuition and growing controversy.

Due to succesful marketing of CEM tests GL Assessment revamped their offerings, providing two 60-minute papers. Paper 1 covers comprehension and maths. Paper 2 covered a wider range of verbal reasoning questions; including many similar to the old Moray House question types; maths, and non-verbal/spatial reasoning questions.

CEM withdrew from paper based 11+ tests in 2023 and lost most of their clients. They offer online tests via CEM Select.

 Widespread Eleven Plus Cheating

Many of  the same 11+ tests are reused to test children who sit test late. This allows organised cheating. Tutors would solicit feedback from children who sat a test and then use this  information to  not only late sitters, but also future years. This forced children in to tuition as past papers are not released.

Many schools hold eleven plus tests on a Saturday. Many Jewish and Seven Heaven faith children claim they cannot sit an exam on a Saturday, due to religious reasons. These children sat the test on the following day - Sunday often with knowledge of content and specific questions.

Any sensible school would seek to prevent this by moving tests to a weekday, and perhaps declaring the day an inset day.

Cheating in Redbridge 11+

In 2011 there were allegations of organised cheating in Redbridge. A large number of children asked to take the exam on a Sunday, one day late.

They claimed to unable to sit the test on a Saturday for religious reasons or because of illness. The common excuse.

It is alleged children who sat the test on the Saturday were contacted after the test by their tutors to solicit test information.

After discussing the exam, the tutors are then alleged to have passed the test content to other children due to take the exam the next day.

A FOIA request revealed the 29% of Sunday sitters “passed” compared to 14% of the Saturday cohort.

Cheating in Warwickshire 11+

Warwickshire Schools go one step further. They reuse exactly the same 11+ test for up to 2 years for entry in to year 7. They have multiple sittings and have failed to implement a sensible testing system. Freedom of Information Requests to Warwickshire County Council showed those sitting the test on the Sunday had a means score that was up to 10% higher compared to the Saturday.

Warwickshire County Council's official stance is that children do not recall content that can make a difference to late sitters. Yet, in 2013 they applied for an ex-parte High Court super-injunction to prevent a website publishing information gleaned from children. It remains unexplained why an injunction is required when the claim is children do not recall content that can advantage late sitters.

How are Children Gaming & Cheating in the Eleven-Plus?
The weakness of Eleven Plus testing is reuse of the same test for late sitters. Late sitting is simply not permitted for GCSEs or "A" levels, so why for Eleven Plus test?
Widespread cheating is still on going in the 11-plus using a variety of methods. For example, children sit the test late, armed with content of the papers gleaned from children who have already sat the same test, especially friends. Another method is for older children to sit the test, pretending to be their younger sibling.
Tutor focused cheating is widespread.

1. Tutors send groups of children to sit the eleven-plus who have no intention of applying to the grammar school. Their task is to recall as much as they can in a particular section of the paper. Some children have been armed with special spy pens that can take videos, stored on a micro-SD card. Some visit the toilet during the test to write down what they recall.
2. Tutors run post-test parties to glean content from children who have sat the tests. A bright child can recall vast amounts of test information. Not only the topics, but also specific question types and vocabulary, providing a great advantage.
3. Tutors run after-test tuition for late sitters, armed with content.
4. Tutors sell a summary of the test content to late sitters.
5. Websites are available on the "Dark Web" offering questions for sale.
6. Tutors register as invigilators so they can view the entire paper and they use this information to tutor late sitters.
7. Tutors pay invigilators to pass on content to them.
8. Websites encourage parents to glean test information from children. This is collated and published when the test can still be reused.
9. Websites collate content and then use it to publish their own preparation material.

A number of websites collate content and use the material in their systems for online preparation knowing questions are reused in different tests in different years. Although this can provide a clear advantage, given tests are not released to the public, it is not actually cheating.

Cambridge University have now withdrawn CEM  paper based 11+ tests. Cambridge spent hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal fees to refuse to answer basic questions including which schools shared the same tests. They answered such questions to a Caucasian women after refusing to answer the same question posed by an Asian man. They were aware of the ethnicity of both.

11+ Maths and NVR

Cool Clever Kids CCK CEM 11+ The Maths site with NVR (Non-verbal reasoning) for Sats and 11+ preparation. Ideal for primary school education and selective school exams. Maths lesson notes; worksheets; presentations; games, & tests auto marked with explanations.

11+ English & VR

WordBuilder WB CEM 11+Verbal reasoning and English for the 11+, Sats and private/independent school entrance exams as well as primary school. Spellings; definitions; meanings; synonyms; antonyms; cloze passages; jumbled sentences & comprehension.

Sats Papers
Year 2-6 & 11+
SATs Papers

Information relating to Sats Tests. Free downloads of Sats papers covering Year 2 to 6 with no registration. Prepare for Year 6 level 3-5, level 6 & 11+ tests. Download the latest phonics tests.
ATA React
Free Android App
Google Play
Alpha-Tek Associates CEM 11+

Fun FREE Android App to test your thinking and reaction speed. Four fun games: colours; shapes; numbers and next letter. Stores score history. Ideal for Sats & 11+ fun whilst you prepare. Download from Google Play.


Download FREE SATs papers. No registration & no annoying popup adverts.
11+ English (Verbal Reasoning)
online preparation with

Spellings; Vocabulary; Synonyms; Antomyms; Conundrums; Cloze Passages; Comprehension, and Jumbled up sentences. Ideal for 11+ tests set at the CEM Centre, at Durham University®.
11+ Maths (Numerical Reasoning)
and NVR online preparation with

Free maths question generator
Lesson notes; presentations (videos); worksheets; games; Sats style tests from Year 2 to 6 including mental maths audio tests; private school 11+ tests, and CEM style past questions.
Now includes Non-verbal Reasoning.
Ideal for 11+ tests set at the CEM Centre, at Durham University®.

The 11+ information site
Helping children pass the 11+
Free advice and resources with
recommendations for preparation.

Children’s Educational Material 11+
Tel: +44 (0) 24 7641 6970 
Email: cemelevenplus@gmail.com
© 2013-2023. CEM11plus.com group of websites. All rights reserved. Children's Educational Material for the 11+. CEM11plus.com group websites provide information helping children pass the eleven plus. CEM Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring® is an independent not-for-profit research group now owned by Cambridge Assessment and Cambridge University Press® and neither are associated with CEM11plus.com group websites. GL Assessment ® has no connection with CEM11plus.com group websites. The views expressed are those of CEM11plus.com. All trade names and trade marks are acknowledged. This website is secured with a SSL certificate provided to the parent group website, CEM11plus.com, and data is encrypted using 256 bit keys & TLS 1.2.