New Arrangements for Entrance Exams in September 2016 – CEM Format

There is a new consortium arrangement between four of Trafford’s grammar schools: Urmston Grammar, Sale Grammar, Altrincham Grammar School for Girls and Stretford Grammar have joined together to provide one CEM format exam for students in Year 6 from September 2016.

The Trafford Grammar Schools CEM Consortium Entrance Test (TGSCC) will take place on 12th September 2016.

All aboard the CEM Format express!

All aboard the CEM Format express!

What’s the difference?

Previously, each school has set its own entrance examination, using GL Assessment as a provider. Children had to sit an examination for each school, in order to be considered for entry in Year 7.

Now, children will sit only one examination for all four schools. There has been a change of provider and of exam format: Durham University will be providing a CEM format examination. The exam will consist of two papers, each taking around an hour to administer.

But I’ve been preparing my child for GL Assessment format!

Don’t worry about this: even if this announcement has taken you by surprise, the broad skills demanded by GL Assessment are not altogether dissimilar to those demanded by the CEM format. The one notable difference between GL and CEM is that CEM is thought to focus more on vocabulary than GL Assessment.

So what are the main features of CEM format?

CEM format entrance examinations cover maths, verbal and non-verbal reasoning. They often include a reading comprehension passage. There are a lot of questions to complete in a short space of time. Each paper will cover a combination of skill areas; for example there may be maths, verbal and non-verbal reasoning all in one paper.

What should I do now?

Visit your chosen schools’ website to familiarise yourself and your child with the materials provided and to register for the exam (you have to do this by June; don’t put it off!).

There are no ‘official’ CEM papers available but various publishers provide practice workbooks and exam papers, so you might want to get some of these. We’d recommend the CGP publications.

You may want to book a practice test: Better Tuition runs these every year and, because we keep our ear to the ground, we are prepared for the change in format and have CEM format exam papers ready for this year’s exams.  Although the CEM does not make practice or past papers available, our papers are based on wide-ranging research. Our next exam is on Sunday, 24th April 2016 at 9.30am.  We are still able to offer GL Assessment format. Find out more about our practice entrance exams.

There is a useful FAQ section on Stretford Grammar’s website.

Above all, do not panic: the children are all in the same boat so nobody is disadvantaged by this change. I believe that this change will reduce the stress involved in entrance exams.  It’s not pleasant to spend five Saturdays pushing your brain to its limits in exam after exam, which is how it used to be for hundreds of ten and eleven year olds every September. This shorter exam format and the consortium arrangement will take up far less time and produce less angst – which can only be a good thing.

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