Knowing the Difference Between the CEM and GL 11+ Exams


  1. What do CEM and GL mean and what do they do?
  2. What’s the key differences between CEM and GL as organisations?
  3. Which Regions do the Exam Boards cover?
  4. Which schools use CEM and which schools use GL?
  5. What’s the difference between CEM and GL 11 plus exams?
  6. What subjects are covered?
  7. What are the skills required for preparing your child for their 11 plus exam?


If you’ve got your heart set on sending your kid to a grammar or an independent school, they’re going to have to do well on the 11 plus exam. The first thing you need to do is understand the difference between CEM and GL 11+ exams and understand which one your kid will be taking. We’re going to tell you everything you need to know and give you some top tips to help your child prepare. 

child taking exam in exam hall


What do CEM and GL mean and what do they do?


Both CEM and GL are providers of assessment, including the 11 plus exam in England. The 11+ exam is how certain secondary schools evaluate prospective students on their academic merit before deciding who to admit. For the majority, these grammar or independent schools use either CEM or GL 11 plus exams. 

However, some schools set their own 11+ exams. It’s really important that you know ahead of time which subjects will be covered in your kid’s 11 plus exam and if they’re using the CEM or GL 11+ papers. This will give you a good indication of what to expect on the day and you can better prepare your child. ✔️

What does CEM stand for in 11+?

CEM stands for Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring and it’s also sometimes referred to as Cambridge CEM as it’s part of the Cambridge family. 

What does GL stand for in 11+?

GL stands for Granada Learning which is also known as GL Education. 


What’s the difference between CEM and GL as organisations?


CEM is part of the wider Cambridge University Press & Assessment family, which provides assessments, qualifications, academic publications and research around the world. 

GL Education specialises in assessment and it also has an international reach. GL partners with other educational institutions such as the University of York to ensure their assessments follow best practices in education. The GL assessments are used by schools and governments.

Let’s take a look at what’s the difference between CEM and GL regarding the 11+ exams that they set.  


Which regions do the exam boards cover?


GL Assessment: Birmingham, Buckinghamshire, Dorset, Kent, Lancashire & Cumbria, Lincolnshire, Medway, Northern Ireland, Warwickshire.

CEM: Berkshire, Bexley, Gloucestershire, Shropshire, Walsall, Wolverhampton.

GL and CEM: Devon, Essex, Hertfordshire, Trafford, Wiltshire, Wirral, Yorkshire.

Schools are able to change exam boards so for the most up to date information, contact the schools admissions office.


Which schools use CEM and which schools use GL as entrance exams?


Schools that use the CEM exam

  • Adams’ Grammar School

  • Altrincham Grammar School for Boys

  • Altrincham Grammar School for Girls

  • Bacup & Rawtenstall Grammar School

  • Beths Grammar School

  • Bexley Grammar School

  • Bishop Wordsworth’s School

  • Chatham Grammar School for Girls

  • Chelmsford County High School for Girls

  • Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar School

  • Churston Ferrers Grammar School, Galmpton 

  • Colyton Grammar School, Colyford

  • Denmark Road High School

  • Fort Pitt Grammar School, Chatham

  • Heckmondwike Grammar School

  • Herschel Grammar School

  • Holcombe Grammar School, Chatham

  • Ilford County High School

  • Kendrick Girls’ Grammar School, Reading

  • Langley Grammar School

  • Marling School, Stroud

  • Newport Girls’ High School

  • Pate’s Grammar School, Cheltenham

  • Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Penrith

  • Queen Mary’s Grammar School

  • Queen Mary’s High School

  • Rainham Mark Grammar School, Rainham

  • Ribston Hall High School, Gloucester 

  • Rochester Grammar School

  • Sale Grammar School

  • Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School, Rochester

  • Sir Thomas Rich’s School, Longlevens

  • St Bernard’s Catholic Grammar School

  • Stretford Grammar School

  • Stroud High School, Stroud

  • The Crypt School, Gloucester 

  • Torquay Boys’ Grammar School

  • Torquay Girls’ Grammar School

  • Townley Grammar School

  • Upton Court Grammar School

  • Urmston Grammar School

  • Wolverhampton High School for Girls

  • Woodford County High School

Schools that use the GL exam

  • Alcester Grammar School
  • Aylesbury Grammar School
  • Aylesbury High School
  • Barton Court Grammar School
  • Beaconsfield High School
  • Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School
  • Borden Grammar School
  • Boston Grammar School, Boston
  • Boston High School 
  • Bourne Grammar School, Bourne
  • Bournemouth School
  • Bournemouth School for Girls 
  • Burnham Grammar School
  • Calday Grange Grammar School 
  • Carre’s Grammar School, Sleaford
  • Chatham & Clarendon Grammar School
  • Chesham Grammar School
  • Clitheroe Royal Grammar School 
  • Cranbrook School
  • Crossley Heath Grammar
  • Dame Alice Owen’s School
  • Dane Court Grammar School
  • Dartford Grammar School
  • Dartford Grammar School for Girls
  • Devonport High School for Boys
  • Devonport High School for Girls
  • Dover Grammar School for Boys
  • Dover Grammar School for Girls
  • Dr. Challoner’s High School
  • Dr. Challoner’s Grammar School
  • Ermysted’s Grammar School
  • Gravesend Grammar School
  • Handsworth Grammar School for Boys
  • Henrietta Barnett School
  • Highsted School
  • Highworth Grammar School
  • Invicta Grammar School
  • John Hampden Grammar School
  • Kesteven and Grantham Girls’ School, Grantham
  • Kesteven and Sleaford High School, Sleaford
  • King Edward VI Aston School
  • King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys
  • King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls
  • King Edward VI Five Ways School
  • King Edward VI Grammar School, Louth
  • King Edward VI Handsworth School
  • King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School
  • Lancaster Royal Grammar School
  • Lawrence Sheriff School
  • Loreto Grammar School
  • Maidstone Grammar School
  • Maidstone Grammar School for Girls
  • Mayfield Grammar School
  • Newstead Wood School
  • Oakwood Park Grammar School
  • Parkstone Grammar School, Poole
  • Parmiter’s School
  • Plymouth High School for Girls
  • Poole Grammar School
  • Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Alford
  • Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Horncastle
  • Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School for Boys
  • Queen Elizabeth’s High School, Gainsborough
  • Queens’ School
  • Rickmansworth School
  • Ripon Grammar School
  • Royal Grammar School High Wycombe
  • Rugby High School for Girls, Rugby
  • Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School
  • Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys
  • Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School
  • Sir Roger Manwood’s School
  • Sir William Borlase School
  • Skegness Grammar School
  • Skipton Girls’ High School
  • South Wilts Grammar School for Girls
  • Spalding Grammar School
  • Spalding High School
  • St. Joseph’s College
  • St. Michael’s Catholic Grammar School
  • St. Clement Danes School
  • Stratford-upon-Avon Grammar School for Girls
  • Sutton Coldfield Grammar School for Girls
  • The Folkestone School for Girls
  • The Harvey Grammar School
  • The Judd School
  • The King’s School, Grantham 
  • The Latymer School, Edmonton
  • The North Halifax Grammar School
  • The Norton Knatchbull School
  • The Royal Latin School
  • The Skinners’ School
  • Tonbridge Grammar School
  • Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar School
  • Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys
  • Upton Hall School
  • Watford Grammar School for Boys
  • Watford Grammar School for Girls
  • Weald of Kent Grammar School
  • West Kirby Grammar School
  • Wilmington Grammar School for Boys
  • Wilmington Grammar School for Girls
  • Wirral Grammar School
  • Wirral Grammar School for Girls
  • Wycombe High School


What’s the key differences between CEM and GL 11 plus exams?


Each region and school can choose between CEM and GL 11+ exams and which subjects they test. The difference is in what subjects are covered


What subjects are covered?


Here are the different subjects that CEM and GL cover:

  • CEM - Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning, and Numerical Reasoning
  • GL - English, Maths, Verbal Reasoning, and Non-verbal Reasoning

Which is harder CEM or GL?

Both exam boards change their exams each year, although the types of questions are a combination of multiple-choice and open-ended answer responses. 

The CEM 11 plus exam is often regarded as being harder because it’s less easy to predict and therefore prepare for. 

Which is better, CEM or GL?

There is no one better 11 plus exam board because every child is different and will naturally find some sections easier than others. You won’t be given a choice of which exam board to follow either since it’s down to your chosen school/s. 

Let’s summarise the similarities and differences between CEM and GL here:




Subjects covered

Verbal Reasoning, Non-verbal Reasoning, Numerical Reasoning.

English, Maths, Verbal Reasoning and Non-verbal Reasoning

Type of questions

Multiple choice and open ended.

Multiple choice and open ended

New paper each year



What % of participating grammar schools use this exam board



%pass mark changes according to year and region




The best thing you can do for your child is to know which 11+ exam board the school/s will use and which subjects they should prepare for as a result. 


What are the skills required for preparing your child for their 11 plus exam


An important part in the process is to try and put your child at ease ahead of their 11 plus exam. You can do this by helping them revise in a number of ways. 🥰

Time management skills

Once you know which 11 plus exam and subjects your kid will sit, find a good selection of past or practice 11+ exam papers and go through these with your child to start. If you don’t have time or don’t feel confident doing this, you can hire a dedicated 11+ tutor. At GoStudent, we have friendly and professional 11+ tutors who can help. 

Then, your child needs to work through the papers to a time limit on their own to get a good gauge of where they need to speed up or slow down. 

Read a wide array of material

If your child is to sit an 11+ English exam (which is likely) you should encourage them to read a broad selection of material including books, articles, and kid-friendly news sources. Improving comprehension of different texts and increasing vocabulary is very useful. 

Do puzzles and crosswords

A fun way to improve your kid’s understanding of verbal and non-verbal reasoning problems is to have them do maths-related puzzles (e.g. sudoku) and crosswords or word games. There are numerous learning apps that can help make this enjoyable and beneficial at the same time. 

Get a dedicated 11+ tutor

If you hire an 11+ tutor, they will be able to guide your child on what they need to study for in relation to their prospective school/s. A good tutor will be able to provide a more focused revision schedule, have access to past 11 plus exam papers, and also boost your kid’s confidence ahead of the exam. 🤗

We’re sure that with the right 11+ tutor, your little one will be able to get the best grades possible. At GoStudent, all of our 11 plus exam tutors are patient, knowledgeable, and determined to see your kid succeed. We’ll match the right tutor to your child so that they ace their exam. 

As their doting parent, we will also make sure that you get regular progress reports so you know exactly what they are learning and can follow all of their achievements. The first session is free so that you can see for yourself what a difference our 11+ tutoring services will make for your child.