The New 11+ Test Changes  archived April 2014

The Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring, devised within Durham University has devised the alternative test with the aim of decreasing the amount of tutoring pupils who take the test undergo, and to make it a level playing field for all candidates. The response though has been mixed in counties where it has been adopted, and results still skew markedly in favour of 'middle class' parents who both self tutor and pay for additional tuition in Numeracy, Literacy and VR. Far from reducing the tutoring it has just seemed to broaden the scope of the tuition. 

To quote an article off the "11plusexams" website:

Since 2010 the Warwickshire test has been set by the University of Durham CEM. The content of the test changes each year, and no past papers are published, which has led it to be described as “tutor proof”. Many Birmingham parents have found that it is possible to prepare their child for the tests despite the secrecy and changing content, and there has been no obvious decline in the level of professional tutoring in the Birmingham area since the new test was introduced.

And another article from the Buckinghamshire examiner:

"It is true that the actual question types will now be harder to predict but the areas are known to be verbal reasoning (which according to Durham is a broad term); non-verbal reasoning and numerical reasoning. Therefore, any preparation done for the tests needs to be much broader than in the past and will need to involve a strong grounding in core numeracy and literacy skills.  Children will also need to learn important exam skills and develop the ability to adapt their knowledge and skills to different situations. These are all important life skills and will be invaluable to children, irrespective of which type of school they ultimately end up attending.  In that sense, therefore, there will be far greater value in tutoring children for the new tests because they will be developing skills that will be relevant to their schoolwork and will help to boost their levels across the board.   This has to be a good thing, especially with the current problems many schools face with children entering Year 7 with literacy and numeracy skills way below the levels they should be.

One of the key issues for parents, will be whether or not their tutor has the skills to adapt to the changes.  There are a number of tutors in Buckinghamshire who are not qualified teachers. Tutors who are qualified, experienced teachers will be far better placed to tutor children for the new tests because they will have the skills and understanding of how children learn and will be able to give their pupils a good grounding in the important core subjects of numeracy and literacy."

I have a feeling the response of parents, rather than reducing the amount of current exam preparation will in fact just alter the type and mix of tuition they request. In the Midlands and Buckinghamshire where the Durham test is used research suggests that this seems to be the case.

With the 'Durham' test, as it is known, there will be less reliance on the traditional 'VR' type questions which will only comprise about 25% of the exam, with Non VR (or NVR) another 25%. Two other tests will require more traditional English and Maths skills from the pupils accounting again for about 25% each.

Whether tutoring or not I would suggest you keep an eye on your children's Maths and English work to check they are not falling behind. Ensuring your child reads regularly is also an essential part of preparation for any test, whether the CEM, or the VR test. Try to monitor the harder words and keep a list of them separately. Similarly keep on top of mental calculations and multiples in maths to ensure speed isn't an issue in the examination.