CEM 11 Plus
What are Eleven plus exams (also known as secondary school transfer tests)?

The Eleven plus exam is a test given to children in England at the beginning of their final year of primary school, known as year 6. It is used to determine whether a child is likely to be suited to the academic rigours and pace of a grammar school choice. Although independent schools and private schools use a test dubbed the 11+, most people refer to the eleven plus as a test used for entry in to state secondary schools.

Since the mid-1970s may schools stopped using 11+ exams to determine which secondary school children attended. Selective schools were replaced with non-selective comprehensive schools, which often setted or streamed children based on ability. Nevertheless a sizeable number of Local Authorities (LAs) retained selective schools, especially Buckinghamshire, Kent and Essex, which still have a large number of grammar schools.
What type of selection tests do pupils take?

The two main test suppliers are GL Assessment (GL), a private company, and CEM (part of Cambridge University).

The exact type of test depends upon the grammar school or LA. But, most tests have a multiple-choice format, or marking answers on an answer sheet. Some areas have began using computer based tests. The eleven plus tests are usually based on some or of the following topics.
  • Comprehension questions
    These comprise of questions relating to a either a large piece of text, or short passages.
  • Verbal Reasoning questions
    These comprise of questions that required a strong vocabulary (and sometimes quick mathematics in GL tests)
  • Mathematics questions including data-processing questions
    These tend to cover the KS2 maths syllabus.
  • Non-Verbal reasoning (NVR) and spatial reasoning questions
    These tend to involve solving problems based around pictures, diagrams, shapes and space.

Tests in most schools (but not all) comprise of two papers sat on the same day with a short break between papers.

How to pass the 11+

The simple answer is to prepare. Be on top of school work, read widely, complete KS2 maths and learn the concepts of NVR questions.

  • Comprehension: read books of interest and on a wide number of topics. Get in to the habit of reading books before going to sleep.
  • Verbal Reasoning: again read and look up meanings of words, especially synonyms and antonyms. Build vocabulary.
  • Mathematics: master your times-tables and aim to complete KS2 maths. Practice year 6 KS2 SATsPapers. They are free to download.
  • Non-Verbal reasoning (NVR) and spatial reasoning: Learn the principles and concepts and keep practicing questions.

Are there any 11+ preparation tools?

Yes, for English & Verbal Reasoning consider WordBuilder to prepare. For Maths and NVR consider CoolCleverKids. Practice 11+ mock papers (available from the shop). Download FREE SATs papers from SATsPapers.org.uk. 11+ preparation books are available from SATsBooks.com.

11+ Test Information

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.

GL Assessment 11+ Tests
  • Practice papers available from GLA
  • Past papers not released
  • 2  x 60 minute multiple choice papers
  • Answers marked on separate sheets
  • Paper 1: English & Maths
  • paper 2: VR & NVR/Spatial Reasoning
  • Wide range of Verbal Reasoning Questions
  • VR includes numerical problems
  • Requires extensive preparation
  • Maths up to KS2, includes part of year 6
  • Same test used for late sitters
CEM 11+ Tests
Preparing for Comprehension & VR
  • Read a wide variety of books and texts
  • Read CBBC news to increase vocabulary
  • Create word lists of unfamiliar words.
  • Learn synonyms and antonyms
  • Use new words in conversations
  • Practice comprehension
  • Practice verbal reasoning questions
Preparing for Mathematics
  • Master your multiplication tables
  • Practice mental maths in speed
  • Cover KS2 Year 6 Maths syllabus
  • Master percentage
  • Master ratio and proportion
  • Practice past year 6 SATs papers
  • Learn maths tricks and trips
Preparing for NVR & Spatial Reasoning
  • Learn the basics of NVR questions
  • Understand rotation, reflection, sequences
  • Consider counting, odd one out as differences
  • Become familiar with cubes & nets
  • Keep practicing & repeat questions
  • Aim to consistently achieve 85% in tests
11+ Tourism - a legal right to free mocks
Following the Greenwich ruling all pupils, of the appropriate age, have right, in law, to sit any eleven plus exam set by any school or local authority anywhere in the country. They simply cannot be refused the chance to sit the exam solely on the basis of where they live.
The Office of the School Adjudicator (OSA) confirmed this right to use 11+ tests as free mock exams, as well as the right to take 11+ tests late.
A number of regions do not have catchment areas, so sitting 11+ exams outside catchment areas. This does not prejudice the balance and fairness of testing.

A number of areas allow late testing and use the same test, so many children deliberately sit tests late, armed with text content. The current testing system allows cheating and is a defunct testing process.

The best way to prepare for any test is to take mock exams. What is better than taking a real test as a mock? Use 11+ tests in different areas as free mock exams.


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

CoolCleverKids 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 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

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.