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What’s the difference between the GL & CEM 11 Plus exams?


GL and CEM are two different exam boards that are the examiners for the 11+

GL Assessment, formerly known as NFER, was renamed in 2007. GL Assessment develop and administer 11 Plus exams in many grammar school areas.

CEM exams were developed by the Centre for Evaluation & Monitoring at the University of Durham. CEM exams were introduced in response to fears that existing 11 Plus exams had become too transparent. CEM do not publish practice materials and change the format of examinations to minimise ‘teaching to the test’.

In recent years there has been a shift to CEM examinations in many regions. In some, a combination of GL Assessment and CEM exam papers are used.

How about the local Grammar Schools in Barnet and SW Herts Consortium Schools?

1) Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet

Number of Places in Year 7: 180

Exam Board Type: GL Assessment.

The 11+ entrance exam at Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet consists of two multiple-choice test papers, covering English and Mathematics. Both papers are taken by candidates in the same session.

After the tests are completed, they will be marked and the scores will be fully age-standardised. The scores from the two tests will be combined to produce a single, overall entrance test score for each candidate. Candidates who achieve a combined score of 210 or higher will have met the standard required and will be considered for admission to the school.

2) The Henrietta Barnett School

Number of Places in Year 7: 95 (approximately)

Exam Date: September (Round One) and October (Round Two)

Exam Board Type: Part 1: CEM (University of Durham), Part 2 is written and set by the school

With over 2,000 applications and less than 100 Year 7 places available

The Henrietta Barnett School 11+ test consists of two rounds, divided as follows:


  • Round One: Verbal Reasoning and Numerical Reasoning. This test lasts for approximately 70 minutes.


Following Round One, results from both sections will be combined and placed in rank order. The top 300 students will be invited back to sit the second exam (below).


  • Round Two: English and Mathematics. The English section will test a student’s comprehension and creative writing skills, while the maths section focuses on problem solving skills.


The results of both tests will be used to determine the final rankings and place allocations for Year 7.

3) The Latymer School 

Number of Places in Year 7: 186

Exam Dates: July (Round One) and September (Round Two)

Exam Board Type: Part One: GL Assessment / Part Two: set by the school

The Latymer School 11+ test consists of two parts:


  • Part One: Mathematics and Verbal Reasoning. All applicants will be invited to take this test, which is multiple-choice and with each paper lasting for approximately 50 minutes.  This test will take place in July.


Following part one, only the top 650 ranked candidates in the tests will be invited to sit part two, a written English test.


  • Part Two: The English test is split into two sections. Section one lasts 30 minutes and will consist of a reading comprehension. Section two also lasts 30 minutes and will be a written paper, requiring pupils to tell a story and show a good level of writing skill. This test will take place in September.

4) SWHerts Consortium Schools (see below list) - Mathematics and Verbal Reasoning (CEM)

The South West Hertfordshire School Admissions Consortium consists of the following schools:

  • Rickmansworth

  • St Clement Danes

  • Parmiter’s

  • Queens’

  • Watford Grammar School for Boys

  • Watford Grammar School for Girls

  • Croxley Danes

The information provided about grammar schools was believed to be correct at the time of publishing. However, please be aware of future changes. We advise you to contact the schools directly if you are unsure of anything. 

How do they differ?


Although both CEM and GL Assessment exams broadly cover English, maths, verbal and non-verbal reasoning, there are a number of key differences.

11 Plus subjects


GL covers English, maths, verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Schools can pick to administer all subjects, or select those that best meet their requirements.

CEM covers verbal, non-verbal and numerical reasoning. Verbal reasoning includes many of the skills covered in a GL Assessment English test and numerical reasoning covers the main maths skills that would be tested in a GL maths exam.


Format of the exam papers

GL exams are split by subject (English, maths, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning). Questions are chosen from GL question banks, so regular practice helps to familiarise children with question types they will see. Answers are either written in a blank space next to the question or are multiple choice and answered in a separate answer book.


CEM exam papers do not separate subjects by paper. Commonly one paper tests English and verbal reasoning skills, whilst the other tests maths and non-verbal reasoning skills. Exam papers are broken into sections which may, for example, move from short maths to non-verbal questions to worded problems. Questions are can be either standard, or more commonly, multiple choice, with answers being written in a separate answer book. The weighting of each subject is unknown before the exam, due to the mixed nature of the papers.

Exam timing


GL exam papers tend to last 45 minutes, although this can vary.


CEM exams consist of two 45-minute papers. A short break is normally given between the two papers. Each paper has a mix of topics covering English, verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning and maths (numerical reasoning). The papers are spilt into sections, with varying numbers of questions and timings. Often more questions are provided than are likely to be answered. Children are only given a set amount of time to answer a section and cannot move forward until told to proceed.


Knowledge and skills


GL Assessment exams can cover any of 21 different verbal reasoning skills, much more than seen in CEM examinations. However, CEM examinations require a much broader range of vocabulary.


CEM exams align much more closely to KS2 National Curriculum content than GL Assessment exams do, although the ‘question bank’ nature of GL Assessment exams aids in preparation for this exam type.

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