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 Post subject: CEM preparation
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 7:41 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2010 4:00 pm
Posts: 101
Would members please note that this thread is a result of two threads being merged to keep all the advice in one place. The original proposal for a Sticky on the topic was from DIY mum, whose very informative post is further down this page.

If there is any confusion, please refer to the post titles, which show the original threads names.


Bexley is moving over to CEM, any advice from previous parents/tutors on what worked and what did not
would be most appreciated.



Birmingham test info thread here

 Post subject: Re: CEM preparation
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 1:56 am 

Joined: Fri Nov 18, 2011 10:35 pm
Posts: 63

CEM test is a VERY DIFFICULT TEST and children need to do well under time pressure. There are no published past papers or practice papers and tests are varied from year to year.

For VR section of the test, there are hardly any NFER style questions and emphasis is on vocabulary and comprehension. NVR questions are similar in style to NFER and Maths questions are very difficult (more 12+). At the top of this page, there are posts (sticky) related to the past exams.

For CEM tests, average raw marks are much lower compared to other 11+ exams. For example for 2012 Warwickshire exam, average raw marks were:
50.5% for VR, 23.8% for Maths (NR) and 56.3% for NVR, giving an aggregate raw mark of 43.5%, and for 2010 Warwickshire exam an aggregate raw mark of 43.8%.

Usually an aggregate raw mark in order of:
55% (+/-5%) will achieve a standardised score of 110,
60% (+/-5%) will achieve a standardised score of 114, pass mark for most grammar schools,
65% (+/-5%) will achieve a standardised score of 119, and
85% probably will achieve the top score of 140+.


Last edited by vza on Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

 Post subject: Re: CEM preparation
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 2:38 am 

Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2007 10:08 pm
Posts: 744
Location: Not in a hole in the ground but in a land where once they dwelt-the Beormingas
The introduction of CEM assessment is spreading like wildfire in some regions although, it is becoming somewhat passé here in Birmingham. :lol:

What works? In retrospect of having gone through CEM assessment with 4 dc: reading independently, aloud together and discussion always helps to develop their language skills on the whole. Imho, it makes a huge difference—which is why with dc Quintus, I do make a point never to leave aside our read aloud sessions. Also, in B'ham: VR is worth 50% of the total marks!

Good maths helps with the caveat that success really depends on dc’s data interpretation, logical reasoning skills, thinking out of the box rather than their knowledge of the syllabus or at how fast they know their timestables, IYSWIM. Hence, as vza points out, the lower average mark evident in CEM exams in comparison to others.

 Post subject: Re: CEM preparation
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:13 pm 

Joined: Sat May 30, 2009 1:06 pm
Posts: 2378
Location: Birmingham
DIY Mum's evaluation was great.

I am a strong believer that reading is one of the most vital components of CEM exam preparation. Reading should be often and regular, and ideally encompass a wide variety of fiction and non fiction genres.
I do get frustrated with parents who wish to pay for hour after hour of tuition when their child, above and beyond anything else, needs to read and is not reading. I have often advised parents to spend the money on hiring a friend or relative to just sit and listen to children read, rather than pay for expensive tuition practice for a child whose vocabulary and grammar is just too poor.

Yes, now and again, someone will pop up and say their child passed the CEM exam and hardly ever read. I am still sceptical, but if this really is the case, I assume that they are exposed to very high level conversation at home/on the radio etc - and most children are not.

I like the CEM Literacy/VR testing because I do believe it tests a child's genuine literacy.
Some call it 'untutorable'. I wouldn't say that is true as tuition is obviously going to have an impact on attainment, as is correct format practice (see the sticky for past year formats).
To be fair, I have come to the conclusion that the best way to prepare is to genuinely improve children's literacy, from the core up.
Reading is vital for this. Not only will it organically improve vocabulary, spelling, grammar, sentence structure and comprehension, it will also do something quite simple - improve speed and fluency. That matters too.

I once assessed a child whose comprehension was poor. Mum said that the school teacher had advised that she watch TV with her son and discuss the plot. This was seriously rubbish. I never was a TV fan, but the boy could hardly read - he was a very slow reader - so slow that he would not complete reading the text before the time was up to answer the questions. How the teacher had missed this rather important point is beyond me. I am very happy to say that after a very intensive reading-every-night program over 6 months, he is a brilliant, fluent reader now - Mum has been absolutely great at working with him - and his comprehension has obviously improved from that.

Learning vocab by rote does have a role to play, but the child who 'knows' that vocab anyway from their wide reading, will always have an advantage.

 Post subject: Re: CEM preparation
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 8:24 am 

Joined: Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:56 pm
Posts: 8922
Thank you Um. That is helpful - the rumour is that Kent is going the same way.

I wonder whether the selection will actually be any more "reliable" than before, but that's a different matter.

Presumably each county or school that contracts CEM to do the testing will have slightly different requirements as regards the balance between VR, NVR and mathematical skills.

Sounds like they got the maths badly wrong in the Warwickshire 2012 test. Yes, a test needs to be tough particularly if it is not just going to be used to identify the "top 25%" but also to distinguish higher tiers than that for "superselectives". But if such a high proportion of children are struggling with the maths it becomes less a test of their maths ability, and more a test of their ability to find the bits of the paper which they can do - a completely different set of skills entirely.

PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 1:21 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2007 10:08 pm
Posts: 744
Location: Not in a hole in the ground but in a land where once they dwelt-the Beormingas
You know, the question about CEM assessment, preparation, which resources to use (in terms of books and papers) has come up so often...and considering the fact that many other forum members visit the B’ham region for advice, it is surprising that to date, we still do not have a sticky detailing it all.

Yes, all children are undoubtedly unique and have been exposed to different educational opportunities, parental support and even lifestyle factors. As a result, they also have different needs :)

The suggested list below is what I’ve tried and tested successfully over the last 5 years for my dc. Not all 5dc have been exposed to each and every book for a number of reasons. E.g. ds1 and dd1 didn’t use Bond at all and got by using CGPs and Skillswise online but the others have used Bond extensively in addition to relevant chapters from other books -it’s not necessary for a dc to complete the whole book!

So forum members who have been through the process, please feel free to add to the suggested list below and someone in green will amend it as a sticky so that future dps have something to go by. :idea:

CEM test: Maths, NVR and VR


Bond 9-10, 10-11 (Books 1 & 2)
Schofield and Sims Progress Papers Maths 1, 2, 3.
Junior Maths Book 2 and 3 (for percentages q’s and conversions).
So you really want to learn Maths Prep Bk: 2, 3 (especially good for data questions and problem solving).
Challenge Your Pupils: Using Problem Solving Questions Taken from the Primary Mathematics Challenge
Heinemaan Maths—word problems, time speed questions.
BBC Bitesize and Skillswise online
Independent School Papers
11+ papers.

NVR: I know other dps say that variety is the key, but this is an area that we spent the least on so please add to it.

Bond NVR
Alpha Series

VR: 4 elements but the first hasn’t been used for many years.

Proof Reading
Synonyms and Antonyms
Cloze tests

Proof Readingany punctuation book will do but we used:

Be the Teacher bk 2 by Violet Brand
Handling Punctuation by Jim Davis

Vocabulary: usually in the form of testing: Synonyms and Antonyms

Schonell Essential Spelling books 1, 2 and 3.
Free Rice online
Vocab CD available on this forum
Word games and reading a variety of fiction and non-fiction text on a regular basis

Cloze: So far, 2 types of cloze– missing letters or a missing word (choose 1 from 4). But last year's KE sample sheet also detailed a new type of cloze where it combined it with synonyms and antonyms as 'one worders'. This has yet to appear on an actual exam paper so practice all types.

DIY your own from magazines (like Discovery, National Geo, Aquila, Calliope, How it works etc); newspapers (e.g. the i, Guardian, the Independent etc), and also, KS3 comprehension texts.
Contemporary Cloze by George Moore
Cloze in on language (upper and extension) by George Moore
Schonell Essential Bk 1, 2 and 3

See also for free material on multiple choice type of cloze: Bristol House on here


Bond Assessment papers (9-10 and over)
Schofield and Sims bk 3 and 4
Nonfiction Comprehension Test Practice: Grade 4, 5 and 6 (Nonfiction Resources with Content from Time for Kids)
A variety of 11+ papers (hard to find but very good: R & S Alpha Series: English Pack 1 and 2, Multiple Choice)
Independent School Past Papers

Please add.

PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 1:34 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 8:10 pm
Posts: 9235
Location: Buckinghamshire
DIY Mum wrote:
You know, the question about CEM assessment, preparation, which resources to use (in terms of books and papers) has come up so often...and considering the fact that many other forum members visit the B’ham region for advice, it is surprising that to date, we still do not have a sticky detailing it all..

You do now - I have converted this thread to a Sticky.

Any forum member can contribute information for a Sticky, not just a Mod, but we are the only people who can actually make it "stick".

Thank you for putting this together - it will be immensely helpful to all those in areas now converting to the CEM test.


PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 2:13 pm 

Joined: Tue May 22, 2012 12:05 pm
Posts: 105
DIY Mum - Thank you for the guidance - very much appreciated.

PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 2:23 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2011 11:00 pm
Posts: 8020
Location: Surrey
Great thread, DIY Mum. Just finished 11+ with the elder DC. Never know, we might be facing CEM tests next time.

For vocab building, besides extensive reading, I think Walsh VR books 1-3 and Tutors 15 minutes tests level 3 and 4 are also very useful. Just use the relevant part, leaving other types such as codes etc, if not considered relevant to any particular region.

Also a good Electronic Dictionary is a good investment.

Please support Tiffin School’s Gym Appeal. Visit school’s website to donate.

PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 4:55 pm 

Joined: Fri Oct 02, 2009 1:35 pm
Posts: 1154
Location: Buckinghamshire
Wow ... thank you DIY mum :D just about to start on the new CEM testing and your recommended materials are a great help :D x x x

Heartmum x x x

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