GL Assessment are responsible for writing and administering a high volume of 11 plus tests across the country. While CEM has grown in demand, predominantly due to some grammar schools and local authorities worrying the 11+ exam system was too transparent. As a result, they continually change the format and difficulty level.
Firstly, we will concentrate on the GL syllabus. GL assessment exams are divided into English, math, verbal and non-verbal sections. The questions chosen are selected from the GL bank of questions and the schools or local authorities can pick any combination of those subjects to suit their requirements. Within verbal reasoning, GL have often used 21 verbal reasoning question types. These could involve word, number, code related or logical questions. Certainly, regular practice can help children become familiar and confident with the questions they will encounter. Below is a table which gives more specific examples of the types of questions in each verbal reasoning category.
Category | Name of the question types |
Cracking codes | Crack the number code, Crack the letter code, Double letter series and Letter analogies. |
Creating words | Compound words, Find the missing letter, Move a letter, Find the missing three-letter word, Complete the third pair in the same way and Create words in the same way. |
Using numbers | Letter sums, Number series, Balanced equations and Middle number. |
Finding words | Hidden four letter words, Closest and opposite in meaning, Odd two out, Multiple meaning and Word analogies. |
Thinking logically | Explore the facts, True or false statements and Solve the Riddle. |
Non-Verbal Reasoning questions test how well you deal with new and unusual information without using words. The non-verbal reasoning questions test the student’s ability to spot similarities and differences. Examples include odd one out, analogies and find the shape that is most alike. Studying a pattern and identifying a missing shape are skills involved in matrices and sequences. Some questions may involve vertical or horizontal codes, where the expectation is to match parts of a shape with a letter or letters. The mentioned question types are all two dimensional (2D). The other area which has been introduced into the 11+ tests is spatial reasoning. This looks at how you can manipulate shapes and space in your head. Examples include, fold and punch, hidden shapes and complete the shape. Generally, the question bank nature of the GL exam does make it easier for children to prepare for.
The mathematics section of the GL 11+ test relates to the Key Stage 2 National Curriculum but covers topics across the whole syllabus. Students should be familiar with year 6 objectives such as algebra, percentages, ratio and proportion to name a few topics. The exam will often present the questions in a word problem format. The other common occurrence is setting questions on interpreting data. For instance, children might be given a pie chart and asked to answer a question relating to this information shown.
English comprises of a comprehension exercise. This can be based on fiction, non-fiction extracts or a poem and will include a series of questions covering the following areas.
In addition, the English section can cover sentence completion, grammar and spelling questions. Usually, these questions in a GL test are presented in a multiple-choice format. For each question, your child will be presented with a series of answer options, one of which is correct while the others are all incorrect. Practising this approach of switching between their question paper and the answer sheet is advisable. It can be quite easy to demarcate the answers incorrectly. The answer sheets are marked by an optical reader (machine), so your child must only use pencil and should make sure that any changed answers are rubbed out properly.
CEM 11+ tests will follow the KS2 Curriculum but there is definitely a greater emphasis on vocabulary, problem solving and time management. CEM uses similar topics to GL and the table below gives an overview of these topic areas.
Topic area | Question types |
Verbal Reasoning | Reshuffled Sentences, Antonyms and Synonyms, Odd one out, Analogies, Word definitions, Multiple meaning, Word associations |
Non-Verbal & Spatial Reasoning | Matrices, sequences, analogies, Similarities, Odd one out, Cubes and Nets, Composite shapes, 3D Plan views and 3D Rotation |
English | A comprehension exercise, Cloze passages (partial words, multiple choice, word bank, select the sentence) |
Numerical Reasoning | Core maths skills covered in the KS2 National Curriculum (some topics might not be covered until the end of year 6) |
The CEM test is very time pressured, and this is accentuated by subdividing the paper into timed sections. Once the time has elapsed in a section, the child cannot revisit that part of the paper again. An example might be a comprehension exercise has 20 questions to completed in 15 minutes. Pupils must be able to read fluently and accurately. If a child is a slow reader this can hinder their chances of scoring highly. Developing a strong vocabulary is also important in this style of exam and building your child’s word knowledge – synonyms, antonyms, homonyms is crucial.
The CEM test is very time pressured, and this is accentuated by subdividing the paper into timed sections. Once the time has elapsed in a section, the child cannot revisit that part of the paper again. An example might be a comprehension exercise has 20 questions to completed in 15 minutes. Pupils must be able to read fluently and accurately. If a child is a slow reader this can hinder their chances of scoring highly. Developing a strong vocabulary is also important in this style of exam and building your child’s word knowledge – synonyms, antonyms, homonyms is crucial.
In summary, if your child is sitting either a GL Assessment or CEM 11+ test, try to use plenty of past papers to familiarise your child with the question types in each subject. Learning the various strategies and techniques for the questions will help develop confidence and speed. If attempting a CEM test developing a deep and rich vocabulary is imperative. Reading widely will expose your child to more ‘grown up’ words and try to incorporate those into everyday conversations. Doing crosswords, playing word games can further help children increase their knowledge of word meaning. Giving your child the opportunity to practice tests under exam conditions will help them get used to formal exam conditions – reduce down any anxieties your child may have. It is worth noting your child may not be able to complete all the questions in the given time, especially in the CEM examination, so teaching them to focus on the ones they are more secure on. To reiterate the point made in paragraph one of this article, remember to find out exactly what exams your child will be taking. This can vary from school to school, not just region to region! Also remember to keep checking the admission criteria on school websites as they can change subjects or the duration of the examinations.
We hope you found this blog useful in representing the main differences between GL and CEM. If you would like to purchase supporting materials for either 11+ exam board, please do visit our Collins website.
By Chris Pearse
Chris Pearse is a qualified Primary School Teacher with 10 years' experience in teaching. He started Teachitright in 2006 to provide support for children taking secondary school exams and is passionate about helping children achieve their potential whilst enjoying education.
]]>This blog will explore how to support children with answering mathematical word problems and provide strategies that can help develop their numeracy reasoning skills. Firstly, it is important to recognise that students need a strong foundation in mathematics before they can be expected to tackle complex or multi-step word problems. This secure base involves having a solid grasp of the four operations. For example, if a child is presented with a ratio word problem but finds division or multiplication calculations difficult, they might struggle to solve the problem. Therefore, giving children the opportunity to learn their times tables, addition and subtraction facts and division sums allows them to make better connections between the numbers and the words wrapped around these figures.
Word problems are important because they test the student’s ability to understand when to apply what they have learned in maths to real life situations. There are several approaches that can be taken to answering word problems. One common acronym used in schools is RUCSAC. It stands for:
READ
UNDERSTAND
CHOOSE
SOLVE
ANSWER
CHECK
This strategy helps students understand what the word problem is asking them to do, choosing the right operations to help them solve the equation and then double checking their work. The one aspect which is missing in this mnemonic is estimation. This is useful so the children can estimate what they believe the answer should be. If the answer is not close to the estimation this could inform the children to reread the problem, double check the calculation or consider the operations used.
A word problem takes tough mathematical operations like long division or percentages and applies them to real-life situations. These might include the following areas:
Outlined below is another approach which pupils can adopt to solve a maths word problem.
Read the following problem and try to apply the strategies listed above.
An activity which can really support students answering word problem questions is having pupils write their own. This helps them understand how word problems are constructed, develop their reasoning skills and make connections between maths concepts and the real world. Swapping them with friends or family members to workout can make the solving process good fun. To cover a variety of maths areas you could list topics to focus on. Some are listed below:
In summary, it is a good idea to be systematic when solving word problems in maths. Not every approach works well for your child, therefore selecting a strategy which they feel comfortable with is the best advice. Nevertheless, there are key principles that should be followed. These include reading the problem all the way through. Reread the problem, STOP at punctuation and highlight important information. Look for keywords and circle them. Plan and solve.
Collins have recently released a book to support 11+ maths skills. It presents questions in a word problem format and will ensure your child grows in confidence in this crucial 11+ area.
By Chris Pearse
Chris Pearse is a qualified Primary School Teacher with 10 years' experience in teaching. He started Teachitright in 2006 to provide support for children taking secondary school exams and is passionate about helping children achieve their potential whilst enjoying education.
Discover more from Collins 11+ here
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