CEM 11 Plus

The Eleven Plus (11+ or 11 plus) is a selective entrance examination for entry in to state secondary grammar schools and some private secondary schools, aimed to identify children with academic potential, but more often the most academically able children at the time of the test.

The exam is taken during October of year 6 of primary school for admission in to free state secondary schools and often in January of year 6 for private secondary schools.

The following English counties still have state-funded grammar schools: Berkshire, Bexley, Birmingham, Buckinghamshire, Cumbria, Devon, Dorset, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Medway, Shropshire, Trafford, Wiltshire, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wirral, Wolverhampton and Yorkshire. Northern Irish grammar schools use the Northern Ireland Transfer Test.

There are two major suppliers of eleven plus exams: CEM (owned by Cambridge University) and GL Assessment, which is a private organisation. Neither supplier releases past eleven plus papers. GL Assessment publishes preparation material, whereas CEM do not. All is not lost as CEM preparation material is available from the shop on this website.

A FREE CEM 11 plus practice test paper is available from Children's Educational Material for 11+. Click here.


Which Eleven Plus Exam is used?

CEM eleven plus tests are used in Berkshire; Bexley; Birmingham; Buckinghamshire; Devon; Gloucestershire; Shropshire; Walsall; Warwickshire; Wirral, and Wolverhampton.

GL Assessment eleven plus tests are used in: Dorset; Kent; Lancashire; Cumbria; Lincolnshire; Medway; Wiltshire as well as Northern Ireland.
Schools in Devon, Essex, Hertfordshire, Trafford, and Yorkshire use a mixture of both.
Which areas does the Eleven Plus test?

The topics covered in eleven plus tests vary. Schools tend to focus on some of the following:
  • English (comprehension)
  • Maths (including data processing)
  • Verbal reasoning (includes numbers in GL tests)
  • Non-verbal reasoning (which can include spatial reasoning)
The content of the English and Maths sections of tests follow the KS2 National Curriculum up to the end of year 5 or beginning of year 6 - effectively the entire of KS2 (thus, year 6).

Verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning is not covered in state primary schools, but may be in private/independent primary schools, although many areas run an outreach programme for pupil premium qualified children, which is effectively free tuition under a different name.
Is the Eleven Plus compulsory?
Absolutely not. No child can be forced to sit the eleven plus test. In most areas parents have to explicitly apply for their child to sit the eleven plus. Children are permitted to sit eleven plus exams in any area, not only close to where they live. This means children can sit multiple tests in various areas. Some children sit 11+ tests as free mock exams (11+ tourism). It is important to remember an application to sit a test is not an application to the school. Applications to grammar schools are made on a CAF.

Some areas, such as Buckinghamshire automatically enrol children to sit the eleven plus test used in the local authority. But, any child can be withdrawn from the selective test, which bars them from gaining a place at a grammar school in the area.

Should my child sit the Eleven Plus?
The aim of the eleven plus is claimed to be to identify child with academic potential or innate ability. In reality it often identifies ability on the test date, elevated by preparation.
Many parents view a grammar school education as a free alternative to a fee-paying school - a substantial saving.
You should consider:
  • Whether your child is considered academically gifted or hard working.
  • Are they performing well above average at school or above average if pupil premium qualified (as they often receive priority in admissions and can often gain admission at lower scores)?
  • Are their SATs or other scores such as CATs higher than average?
  • Whether the child's teachers believe the child would "pass" the eleven plus and benefit from a grammar school education.
  • Whether the child is willing to prepare for the eleven plus and whether they want to attend a grammar school.
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.

 Should my child prepare for the Eleven Plus?
Unless your child is a genius, ignore the people who say preparation is not required or an 11+ test is tutor-proof. This is nonsense.  Children should prepare to maximise the possibility of success.

The biggest hurdle is getting your child onboard. If they want to go to a grammar school and are willing to put in the effort, great, life is easier. If not, it is often an uphill battle and often not worth preparing to any great extent.

Children prepare and revise for almost every exam they take, so why should the 11+ be any different? Preparation clearly enhances performance.

But, remember that a grammar school is not the be-all and end-all. If you are desperate for your child to attend a grammar school there is always the sixth-form when your child is older and more mature.
Eleven Plus Test Format
CEM tests consist of an online test covering all topics. GL tests consist of two 60-minute tests: Paper 1 covers English & Maths and Paper 2 covers VR and NVR.

GL are purely multiple-choice tests. Answers are marked on a separate answer sheet in both tests.

Both tests can cover English/Comprehension; Maths/Data Processing; Non-verbal & spatial reasoning, and Verbal reasoning.

CEM VR consists of synonyms; antonyms; old word out; cloze text, and jumbled sentences. They withdrew paper based tests in 2023.

GL tests have a wider range of VR questions types and often more spatial reasoning questions.
Eleven Plus Test Preparation
Recommended Material

11+ preparation books: CEM   GL Assessment

English and Verbal Reasoning:

Maths & Non-verbal Reasoning (NVR):

Free Year 6 Maths SATsPapers

11+ Progress & Practice Papers for CEM tests

Word lists; lesson notes and `Ultimate NVR`
questions are available from the shop.

Eleven Plus Tourism
Free Mock Exams
Take eleven plus exams in areas around the country as free mock papers.

Practice make perfect and it is a good way to experience a real exam under timed conditions.

Following the Greenwich ruling all children, of the appropriate age, have a legal right to take any eleven plus exam set by any authority and cannot be denied the opportunity to sit an exam solely on the basis of their address.

This paves the way to apply to, and be able to sit any 11+ test for, any state grammar school.
Gaming The System
Sitting The Same Test Late
Many children make excuses to sit an 11+ exam late.

One reason is that exactly the same test is used on every late sitting. Children recall content and this is passed on to tutors and finds its way on to the Internet.

Late sitters become aware of content, even from friends, and can achieve a higher score. It is unwise to reuse the same test as late sitters can gain an unfair advantage. It is all about cost!
How to prepare for the Eleven Plus?
Tutors are not essential, especially if using online subscription sites such as WordBuilder and CoolCleverKids.

Start early. It need not be formal in the early years.

1.  Find out if your area has grammar schools, if not be prepared to move or travel (and if there are catchment/priority areas).
2. Find out who the current supplier is and whether there are plans to change supplier.
3. Ensure your child is performing well and reading widely during year 4 and 5.
4. Begin serious preparation in year 5 or the summer holidays of year 4.
5. Aim to cover the entire year 5 and 6 KS2 maths syllabus by the end of year 5.
6. Aim to build vocabulary and read with your child, or at least sit in the same room whilst your child reads and encourage them to ask you what unfamiliar words mean.
7. By January of year 5 begin learning NVR concepts and start practising tests by April. Your child may reach a consistent plateau, and more effort may not be an effective use of time.
8. Practice Maths using year 6 SATs papers - you can do almost 20 year of papers!
9. Focus on times tables and ensure basic mathematical calculations can be undertaken at speed.
9. Practice comprehension, and verbal reasoning questions.
10. After Easter of year 5 undertake practice papers. Do not worry about speed at this stage. Calculate two scores, one in the allocated time and one with extra time.
11. By June, focus on speed and undertake mocks in timed conditions for time management.
12. The summer holidays are the last push opportunity. Create a revision timetable. Undertake as many tests as you can.

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.