What are GL, CEM & ISEB?

April 8, 2022

11+ Exams – What is the Difference Between GL, CEM and ISEB?

The two main exam boards used for the 11+ grammar school exams are CEM (Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring) and GL Assessment (Granada Learning). A third examining body, ISEB (independent Schools Examining Board), is used by over 60 independent schools. Recently due to Covid-19, more schools have been using the ISEB Pretest as this is online, whereas GL and CEM exams are paper based and taken in exam halls.

Some selective independent schools set their own entrance exam; but they will still be testing the core principles of English, maths, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning.

The main difference between the tests is the way they are taken.

Examberry Year 4 and Year 5 courses are structured to prepare students for all exam types; they include excellent course material, practice tests, and teach exam time management and good exam technique. The Year 6 course, which runs from September to December, is geared towards second stage grammar school exams and the independent sector. We also offer Creative Writing Workshops for second stage exams and the independent sector. For those who have not been able to attend our full 37 week courses we offer Year 4 Summer Intensive and Year 5 Summer Intensive 2 week courses.

GL Assessment
(Granada Learning)

CEM
(Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring)

ISEB
(Independent Schools Examinations Board)

Used by most grammar schools and independent schools.

Used by both grammar schools and independent schools.

Used by over 60 independent dchools.

Traditional paper exam setting in a hall.

Traditional paper exam setting in a hall.

Online exam taken at the student’s own school or at a prospective senior school.

Taken at the school.

Only sit once for all schools that the student has registered with.

Only sit once for all schools that the student has registered with.

English, Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning.

Numerical, Verbal and Non-Verbal ability. CEM exams align more closely to the National Curriculum for Key Stage 2 than GL.

English, maths, verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Standardised for the independent sector.

There can be 2 stages to this exam. Stage 2 is only used by the more selective grammar schools and independent schools.

Stage 1 papers are multiple choice English and maths incorporating some verbal and non-verbal reasoning. About 50 minutes each.

Stage 2 papers are open answer questions. English consists of comprehension and writing similar to an independent school exam format. Maths consists of arithmetic questions and challenging word problems.

Multiple choice with a combination of topics in no particular order. 2 x 45 minute papers. Topics include VR, NVR and numerical reasoning.

Timings are allocated per section (6-12 minutes). Students can only proceed to the next section when they are told to do so and may not refer back to previous sections.

There are typically more questions than are likely to be answered in the time allocated, and the weighting of each subject for your child’s final mark will be unknown before the exam.

Multiple choice and adaptive online test. The subjects English, maths, non-verbal reasoning and verbal reasoning can be taken together or separately. Each student is awarded a Standard Age Score.

English – 25 minutes.

Maths – 50 minutes.

Verbal reasoning – 36 minutes.

Non-verbal reasoning – 32 minutes.

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