Cambridge CEM Cognitive Abilities Tests Unlock Student Potential

In education, understanding and nurturing a student’s cognitive abilities is crucial. Cambridge Centre for Evaluation & Monitoring (CEM) has been at the forefront of providing the latest in cognitive ability assessments for the last 40 years. Our baseline assessments provide cognitive ability tests from early years to post-16.

What are cognitive abilities?

Cognitive abilities are the skills we need that help us learn and interpret the world around us, skills such as:

  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Perception
  • Analysing
  • Reasoning
  • Problem-solving
  • Decision-making

Cognitive abilities help us to make sense out of complexity, something called ‘eductive ability’. These skills naturally develop over time but aren’t necessarily taught or included in any curriculum. Yet they are fundamental factors that contribute to educational success.

Dr Irenka Suto explains more about how cognitive abilities play a vital role in learning by setting out the Cambridge Learner Profile in Research Matters.

Find out why cognitive abilities are important to assess

What is a Cognitive Abilities Test?

A cognitive abilities test is a specialised assessment designed to evaluate an individual’s cognitive functioning and intellectual capabilities. These tests aim to provide insight into a person's problem-solving skills, memory, reasoning abilities, and overall aptitude for learning. Cognitive abilities tests are vital in education, helping teachers and students understand and harness their cognitive strengths.

How is a cognitive abilities test conducted?

Testing cognitive ability involves using standardised assessments measuring various cognitive functioning aspects. Cambridge CEM provides cognitive ability tests through our adaptive and personalised baseline assessments. Unlike conventional tests, the adaptive, baseline assessments from Cambridge are tailored to each student’s unique needs, providing a more comprehensive understanding of cognitive abilities.

These assessments evaluate a student’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses, empowering teachers to provide targeted support. Baseline assessments go beyond predicting exam performance; they help identify areas where students need improvement, enabling educators to focus on building cognitive skills.

Cognitive ability testing is a core part of Cambridge CEM’s assessments in every educational phase, from Early Years (age 3-5) to Post-16 (age 16-19). Each of these assessments is based on extensive research and tailored to complement the stages of child development, so the cognitive ability sections will appear different in each assessment.

Read our case study – Emily

Child on laptop doing cognitive test


Cambridge CEM Assessments: Beyond standard testing

Cambridge CEM assessments go beyond traditional school tests. They aim to provide schools with the insights they need to support their students’ learning journeys effectively. In a competitive and complex school environment, accurately measuring a student’s potential and progress can be challenging. Baseline assessments simplify this process, making it quicker, fairer, personalised and tailored to each student’s unique needs.

Why choose Cambridge CEM for cognitive abilities tests?

Cambridge CEM’s baseline assessments provide a personalised and tailored adaptive experience for each student. They test cognitive abilities alongside the fundamental skills every child needs to succeed in school. The powerful insights reveal students’ underlying strengths and weaknesses and empower teachers to understand where best to provide support. We give you the tools to enhance students’ outcomes from the very beginning.

Pinpoint a student’s starting point and gain a holistic picture of their attitude and aptitude for learning. Baseline assessments go far beyond predicting their exam performance – Cambridge CEM help teachers identify the areas where students need to improve and strengthen their cognitive abilities.


Four decades of experience

What began as a small-scale research project in 1983 has since evolved in to one of the largest providers of formative assessments. Trusted globally and used by educators in over 100 countries, our methods are firmly grounded in research, guided by evidence and rigorously tested in the market.


Global reach

Cambridge CEM’s commitment to education reaches far and wide, working with schools in 109 countries. Wherever you’re based, we ensure that you have access to the right assessment tools to support students growth.


Data-driven decision making

With 43 million data points used to deliver rigorous, evidence-based assessments, Cambridge CEM supports schools to turn data into action. Providing schools with reliable and comprehensive data, as well as easy-to-understand reports, allows teachers to focus on unlocking their students’ potential.


Impactful reach

Each year, Cambridge CEM assesses 327,000 students on average. The assessments are standardised to ensure that the data is consistent and trustworthy. 600,000 assessments are used to standardise scores so schools can trust that they are getting the most accurate data to support their students.


Empowering schools to make a difference

Cambridge CEM’s research-based assessments provide unprecedented insights into what’s happening in the classroom, from individual students to each year-group to the whole school. With data from the cognitive ability tests, teachers can take informed actions. They can use the insights to support their planning, assign resources, set targets and work collaboratively with students to establish ambitious yet achievable goals.

The cognitive abilities tests allow teachers to facilitate open conversations with students and their parents about progress, provide revision tips and discuss how best to move forward with their learning together. By identifying a student’s cognitive strengths and abilities, schools can unlock their full potential from the beginning of their educational journey.

Which assessment is right for your students?

Each of our baseline assessments are based on extensive research and created to complement the stages of child development. There is an assessment for every education phase.

Early Years assessments

Support early learning and development. Use these assessments to understand a child’s skills and abilities as they start school for the first time.

  • ASPECTS for ages 3-4
  • BASE for ages 4-5

Early Years (age 3-5)

Primary assessments

Build a strong foundation for learning. Unlock students’ potential and map their learning journey as they move through primary school.

  • BASE for ages 4-5
  • Cambridge Primary Insight for ages 5-11

Primary (age 5-11)

Secondary assessments

Empower exam preparation. Set your students on the path to success with predictions from baseline assessments to GCSE and IGCSE.

  • MidYIS
  • Yellis

Secondary (age 11-16)

Post-16 assessments

Unlock students’ true potential. Boost your students beyond GCSE or IGCSE with specialised post-16 baseline assessments.

  • Alis

Post-16 (age 16-19)

Get in touch

Cognitive abilities tests such as Cambridge CEM’s baseline assessments are valuable tools for teachers to unlock and nurture a student’s true potential. With a global reach, decades of experience and a commitment to data-driven decision-making, Cambridge CEM is a trusted resource in education. Get the insight and support needed to help students realise their cognitive strengths and abilities at every stage of their educational journey.

Talk to one of our assessment advisors to find out more