Since 2010 the Warwickshire test has been set by the University of Durham CEM. The content of the test changes each year, and no past papers are published, which has led it to be described as “tutor proof”. Durham CEM tests have been used for several years now for 11+ entry to the Birmingham grammar schools, and more information about Birmingham past papers can be found there.

Many Birmingham parents have found that it is possible to prepare their child for the tests despite the secrecy and changing content, and there has been no obvious decline in the level of professional tutoring in the Birmingham area since the new test was introduced.

The descriptions of the tests below have been taken firstly from the Warwickshire County Council website, and secondly from the website of King Edward VI Grammar School in Stratford-upon-Avon.

They provide further insight into the method of administering the Durham CEM test and also the skills needed to succeed in the test. Note in particular the statement from Warwickshire CC that “Students are not necessarily expected to complete each section due to time constraints”.

Warwickshire sample question papers for the last two years’ tests can be downloaded. It is also worth mentioning that the sample papers are considered to be very much easier than the real test, and not particularly representative of the type of questions that appear in the real test.

Information on the Warwickshire Grammar School Selection Tests for Entry in September 2013 (Source: Warwickshire County Council)

The university of Durham centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) provides Warwickshire with specialist entrance tests. The aim is to provide selective tests which are resistant to tutoring and provide as standardised an environment as possible. The content assesses performance in verbal, numerical and non verbal reasoning.

  1. The verbal reasoning section includes comprehension and reading skills. A wide knowledge of vocabulary is an advantage.
  2. The numerical section will test mental arithmetic and recognition of mathematical patterns. It will explore problem solving with a greater reading element.
  3. The non verbal reasoning section eliminates cultural bias in testing and the possible bias against individuals who may have difficulty with verbal elements.

Reasoning tests are used for secondary selection because of their high reliability. All three components involve a speed element as the tests are administered by CD in timed sections. Students are not necessarily expected to complete each section due to time constraints. During each section they are allowed to check their answers within that section only. A sample sheet aims to provide candidates and parents with the layout and appearance of the actual tests, to introduce some of the symbols and phrases used in the tests and to highlight the range of answer formats, e.g. multiple choice, filling in answer boxes, etc.

Arrangements for the tests for 2013 entry (From King Edward VI Grammar School in Stratford-upon-Avon). (Tests have not changed from last year)

The tests will comprise two standard format papers (bespoke papers available only to Warwickshire County Council). Each test will be of 45 minutes duration.

Paper 1 will include:

  1. 20 minutes verbal reasoning
  2. 10 minutes short maths questions
  3. 15 minutes comprehension

Paper 2 will include:

  1. 15 minutes longer maths questions
  2. 10 minutes data processing questions
  3. 10 minutes non verbal reasoning
  4. 10 minutes missing words in paragraph test (‘cloze test’)

Verbal reasoning

It involves the manipulation of verbal representations and the solving of verbally presented problems. Orthographic, syntactic and semantic abilities, as well as logic and other problem solving skills are needed in verbal reasoning.

Comprehension tests

It tests the ability to make inferences as to meaning within and between phrases, sentences and paragraphs; to derive the ‘gist’ of the meaning from a text; understand the vocabulary, and extract accurate interpretations of the written language.

Non-Verbal Reasoning

These tests eliminate cultural bias in intelligence testing and the possible bias against individuals who lack experience of a particular language or have difficulties with verbal elements.

The ‘Cloze Test’

It consists of several short passages of prose. It needs an overall understanding of the passage, but it requires closer attention to the grammatical and syntactic elements of written language than in the comprehension test. The candidate selects the most appropriate word from a choice of three at various points in the passage so as to make sense of the phrase and/or sentence.

Mathematical Sections:

Short mathematical questions will test ability in mental arithmetic and recognition of mathematical patterns (as curriculum free as possible). A rigorous test of working memory skills with a speed element to this section. Not all the candidates will be expected to finish.

Longer mathematics problems explore numerical problem solving requiring more stages of processing with a greater verbal element involved than in the short maths questions.

One familiarisation paper will be issued to each candidate registered for the tests with the notice of allocation to a particular Test Centre.

A single testing session will include:

  • Test Paper 1 (45 minutes)
  • Short Break
  • Test paper 2 (45 minutes)