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What Every Parent Should Know About CEM Select Exam



CEM Select is a computer-based exam designed by the Centre of Evaluation and Monitoring. Many of the United Kingdom’s independent and grammar schools are now using it to identify talented pupils.

If you intend to send your child to an independent or grammar school, then you must research this exam. Your child will likely be subject to it. If they fail, then they could be turned away.

This post will explore this topic in more detail, explaining what you as a parent need to know about it and how you can effectively prepare your child.

Practice Tests

Before explaining everything that you need to know about the CEM Select test, it’s first important to recommend practice tests. Practice tests can give your child an idea of what to expect from the actual exam. You should also encourage reading more about the CEM Select, so they understand what the idea behind the test is. To say that it is difficult would be an understatement. Not preparing could lead to your child failing and then being turned away from the school that they want to go to.

As far as practice test providers go, you should select one with highly accurate mock tests, covering all of the potential CEM Select modules. Ideally, the test provider should also offer skill practice, allowing them to improve their knowledge about specific subjects and question types likely to appear.

Before signing up for a practice test provider’s service, be sure to read their reviews. A provider’s reviews should tell you all that you need to know about their practice tests and mock exams. If possible, you should speak to parents whose children have completed tests on that specific provider’s website before.

CEM Testing

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The purpose of the CEM Select test is to identify talented and intelligent pupils. The test is intense, which is partly why mock exams are so crucial. There is no way your child can complete the CEM Select without practicing first unless they are extraordinarily intelligent. The CEM Select’s time limit is one hour. It is non-adaptive, meaning that the questions are pre-selected and that the person taking the test will see the same questions throughout the test. Pupils taking the test can move freely back and forth, changing and double-checking their answers, too.

Test Scoring

Once your child has completed their exam, their scores will be compared against their age, which they will be required to input at the beginning of the test. The results of your child’s test will be made available to the school within three days of them taking the test. Unfortunately, there is no way for parents to see their children’s results. It is either a pass or a fail. If it is the latter, then parents may be allowed to examine their child’s results and even appeal the decision.

The way that the pass mark is decided is quite simple. Each school has its own pass mark. The pass mark depends on the number of students the school can admit into the year group, which means that the pass mark can change from year to year and that there is no fixed mark. This can make it a lot more difficult for your child. However, with proper preparation, revision, and mock exams, it should be possible for them to pass. Regardless of the school, the pass mark will not be set ridiculously high.

Repetitive Learning

One of the main purposes of the CEM Select test is to allow genuinely intelligent students to stand out. Many young people today have facts, figures, and information drilled into their heads through repetitive teaching. People who have been taught in such a way can then excel in these exams because they can recite the answers to the questions by heart. While a strong memory is indeed connected with high intelligence, the schools requiring CEM Select testing are looking for more than students with the ability to memorize things. CEM Select gives pupils an opportunity to show their academic potential and real ability, as well as their understanding of what they’ve been taught, not somebody else’s repeated.

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Question Types

A mock exam will give your child an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the different question types found in the CEM Select test. Of course, they will likely have encountered them before, but it’s still a good idea for them to re-familiarise themselves with them.

Multiple-choice questions

In the CEM Select test, your child will be asked a variety of multiple-choice questions. These questions make up the majority of the test, in fact. As the exam is computer-based, pupils use their mousepad to select the correct answer from a group of different options.

Drag and drop

Drag and drop questions are self-explanatory. Your child will no doubt have encountered this kind of question before. They must select the correct answer from a group of potential solutions and drop it into the answer box.


Auto-complete questions involve your child typing the answer that they believe is right into a small text box and completing the word. The first-word letter will be presented to the left of the box they are told to type in.

What Subjects Are Tested?

  • Comprehension
  • Mathematics
  • Anagrams
  • Missing words
  • Shuffled sentences
  • Pictures

Pass Techniques

As mentioned previously, children need to be genuinely intelligent to pass this exam. However, they also need to exhibit certain qualities. One of these qualities is the ability to work fast. If your child cannot move quickly, then they might not be able to get through the test in time. Your child must also read each question carefully and be able to trust their instincts. A good way to prepare your child’s cognitive performance before the test is to get them to play with puzzles. Puzzles can be highly effective for improving a person’s mental acuity.

If you want to get your child into an independent or grammar school, then preparing them for the CEM Select exam will help. While not all schools adopt this testing method, many do, and many more are starting to. Select a test provider carefully, ensuring they offer a reliable service.

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