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State of the Art 11 Plus Testing,
This review is from: 11+ Practice Test Papers for CEM (Durham University) Tests (Paperback)
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My partner tutors young children for the local 11+ and 13+ tests (our country has a selective system), so we picked up this set to see whether it would provide some extra activities to supplement the NFER papers our local children sit.
These papers use the CEM (Durham University) tests and represent the "state-of-the-art" for aptitude testing in the UK. They're challenging, which is to say they test the full ability range. Activities are quite time-pressured, with tasks that cannot be completed by most students in Y5 following the National Curriculum. In effect, this privileges children who have been privately educated - unless you buy into the idea of innate intelligence, which I guess people who set these tests do.
The package consists of two sets of tests, with each set containing a Paper 1 and Paper 2. There's an answer booklet, suggesting students should aim to score 80% overall and giving some basic advice on pinpointing errors. The main shortcoming here is the lack of any clear diagnostic. If your child got some questions right, other questions wrong, there's no help analysing what particular skills or strategies your child needs to acquire, nor any advice on the relative importance/difficulty of different questions (though they seem to get harder towards the end).
Paper 1 is a mixture of Verbal & Numerical Reasoning. There's a Comprehension Exercise where students read a short story and answer multiple choice questions. The text is clear and the story is appealing and age-appropriate. The activity is very time pressured, with rather more questions than most students could complete in the 15 minutes allowed. The other Verbal Reasoning tasks are more traditional - re-arranging words, identifying inappropriate words, etc. A conventional Vocabulary Test asks students to identify verbs, antonyms, etc. Some of the tasks are quite imaginative, but the layout is clear and the first task is solved for you.
Numerical Reasoning involves the standard four mathematical procedures and fractions, but also more advanced arithmetic like algebra, which is rather advanced for most Y5 kids following the National Curriculum.
Paper 2 is a mixture of Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning. This is more traditional throughout, with shapes to be rotated, odd ones out to be spotted and patterns to be completed.
This is certainly a helpful resource for teachers or parents preparing students for CEM 11+ testing. Because the reasoning behind the answers is given in the answer book, parents might find this particularly helpful (although diagrams for the non-verbal tests would have been more helpful than the verbal explanations). For people looking to choose a 11+ Test (if there be any such left), the CEM Test is clearly advanced and aims to distinguish the aptitudes of high ability students. Since this involves mathematical procedures more advanced than the assumptions made by the National Curriculum, the tests might be perceived as biased in favour of independently-educated students. Or at least, my partner things so, which is why she prefers the more old-school NFER Tests.