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What is the difference between the GL and the CEM 11-plus Exam?

There are two commercial companies who are the main suppliers of 11-plus exam papers. Schools/LEAs and consortiums may change their supplier or exam type from year to year.

The main suppliers are GL (Granada Learning) and CEM (The Center for Evaluation and Monitoring which is connected with Durham University)

The question content is similar between both companies but how the questions are presented can differ and the names that they give to subject areas varies.


It is sometimes thought that the CEM requires a child to have a better vocabulary but both versions require a child to have a very good vocabulary.

GL 11+ exam

The GL 11-plus covers the usual 11-plus subjects of English, mathematics, verbal and non-verbal reasoning. These tests may be given as discrete subjects and schools/consortiums can choose to set 11-plus exams in all subjects or select a combination of subjects.

The format of the GL exams is that they are usually given by subject area and answers are either written in the traditional format with answers written in a blank space beside the question or the child has to complete a multiple-choice answer sheet by choosing the answer from a selection of 4 or 5 possible answers. It is important to familiarise your child with completing the 11-plus practice in the relevant manner however practicing questions in a variety of ways can be useful.

GL 11+ exam regions (Liable to change)

  • Dorset

  • Kent

  • Lancashire & Cumbria

  • Lincolnshire

  • Northern Ireland

  • Wiltshire

  • Buckinghamshire

  • Plymouth

CEM 11+ exam

The CEM 11-plus exam also covers verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning. CEM verbal reasoning includes many of the question types included in the GL exam though presentation may differ. The CEM Verbal reasoning exam contains a lot of English based questions whilst the non-verbal reasoning and numerical reasoning paper tests the main maths skills taught in school alongside traditional non-verbal reasoning questions.

The format of the CEM 11-plus is such that the exam papers tend not to be separate subjects but each paper may include a mix of subject areas. For example, one paper may combine questions on English and verbal reasoning, whilst another paper may combine maths and non-verbal reasoning. CEM Non-verbal reasoning papers are often broken into short sections switching between maths problems followed by a Non-verbal reasoning section. The same can apply to the verbal reasoning paper which may contain a Verbal reasoning section followed by an English section. The CEM 11-plus exam can be answered in traditional or multiple-choice format – schools or consortiums decide which.

CEM 11+ exam regions (Liable to change)

  • Berkshire

  • Bexley

  • Birmingham

  • Gloucestershire

  • Shropshire

  • Walsall

  • Warwickshire

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