CEM (Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring) have claimed they are producing tests that are ‘resistant to prepping’. In my opinion – there is no such thing! There are only so many things an eleven year old can be asked to do in an 11+ examination: verbal, non-verbal, numerical (Maths) or literacy (English – comprehension or writing). After all, a child cannot be asked to do ‘Martian’. The CEM tests are based on verbal, non-verbal, numerical and comprehension skills and all these aspects are tested in two 45-minute tests. There is nothing new in this.
In fact, is ‘there nothing new under the sun’, as one wise ancient writer said. This looks strangely like the old fashioned 11+ tests from the 1950s and 60s where children sat tests that were not subject specific but ranged across a number of skills (i.e. numeracy, verbal reasoning and literacy). The only aspect that is ‘new’ is that CEM are not producing practice papers for children to do outside the normal familiarization materials. The provision of practice test papers is a modern phenonmenon anyway, as I don’t think these were issued in the early days of grammar school tests.
Good teachers/tutors have never taught their children to do ‘tricks’ anyway and I firmly believe it is about educational level and not merely mastering test technique. It is odd that there is an objection to preparation too – after all we would find it very strange if people sat any other examination (e.g. GCSE, A’ Level or degree) without preparation. So I state plainly – there is no ‘prep-resistant’ test and sensible people will always prepare for a test if this test is a means to an end, whether it be a school place, a university or college place or some employment position.