In our conversations with parents, we have found that the new CEM tests are making parents a lot more anxious than other 11+ testing regimes for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the tests have taken on a much greater focus on English than was previously required and secondly, there are no practice papers being released for the CEM tests.
Our view is that no test is essentially impossible to prepare for. Throughout history, tests have always been the means by which pupils’ understanding of a subject or skill have been assessed. CEM believe their tests focus on the important areas of knowledge and understanding that will identify children in the higher ability range. It is certainly true that a greater concentration on English skills makes these tests harder to prepare for because language skills are learnt over a long period of time and improving them quickly is not easy to do. The fact that CEM do not release any practice papers also makes it more difficult for children to practise answering regular question types or get used to dealing with questions written in a particular style.
AE Tuition has never believed children should prepare for tests by simply going through past exam papers, as this does not facilitate learning. It merely highlights a child’s weaknesses in a sporadic and confusing manner. Our philosophy is that children need to be taught the technique of ‘how to do it’ first, then to practise what they have learnt through testing. By teaching technique and methodology and improving a child’s overall knowledge base, each child will know how to answer questions using the understanding and skills they have developed. It is more difficult to achieve in the realm of English based skills but developing a child’s understanding of grammar, syntax and how to approach literary text is certainly possible. AET’s range of English materials is geared to do just this.
Children will then be more than ‘prepared’ to write and answer the questions in CEM tests to the best of their ability. Additionally, this knowledge and skill will lay the foundations children can build upon in all their subsequent education.