creative writing 11 plus

CSSE 11+ Exam Creative Writing Tips 2024

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The CSSE Exam: 9 must know creative writing tips

Children can all too often feel overwhelmed by elements of the 11+ exams, with their parents frequently equally as intimidated. With this in mind, we’ve put together a simple list of tips for those preparing for the CSSE exam.


1. Be aware of the test’s length and format
Essay tests can range in length from as little as twenty minutes to as many as 50 minutes. The format usually allows for a choice between titles, however, check with your child the past topics that have come up. You can purchase our CSSE Papers here.


2. Understand that examiners from different regions can have differing priorities
Examiners within different regions are subject to varying priorities; this may mean that some papers will be marked with more of a focus on the exam’s content, whereas others may demand a higher command of spelling and punctuation.
However, there is one thing that every examiner will focus on: a well-defined beginning, middle and end.


3. Make the most of your child’s strengths whilst accepting their weaknesses
Your child will most likely not be naturally strong across all forms of writing. If they do not excel at fiction, focus instead on developing their strengths at factually based essays (or vice versa) if you know they will choose between factual and fictional topics.


4. Put into place an effective planning technique
Good planning is vital to achieving success at 11+ creative writing. Specifically, you should plan for the following key elements:
– Who are the characters? How can they be described?
– What is the story’s setting?
– How does the plot develop/what will happen throughout the story?
– What will happen at the beginning of the story?
– What will happen in the middle of the story?
– How will the story end?


5. Build up a collection of characters
There is little to no time within the 11+ creative writing exam to craft characters, so building up a bank of characters before the exam is essential. Good base characters that may serve a purpose within the exam include a criminal, an elderly man, a scary woman and a pleasant friend. Similarly to this, you should also encourage the development of a range of settings. Useful settings may then be a spooky house, a moonlit forest, or a sunny seashore.


6. Develop a beginning, middle and end balance
Many children struggle with defining the beginning, middle and end of their story, however, you can help by drawing three sections onto the paper at revision time, and asking them to stay within these sections. To this end, the beginning and end sections should be of similar length and shorter than the middle section.


7. Prepare for an emergency ending
Despite all the planning and revision in the world, your child may still find that they run out of time towards the end of the exam, and for this event, you should plan for an emergency end, covering a range of different settings and characters. However, one emergency ending to avoid is the “It all turned out to be a dream” ending.


8. Spend time on adjectives and adverbs
Spending time on adjectives and adverbs will provide your child with a bank of words to rely upon. It may be particularly useful to hone in on certain types of stories, such as a spooky story, and writing lists of adjectives and adverbs that would be fitting in such a story.


9. Stock up on well-written phrases
A last stockpiling exercise to consider is time-saving phrases. These could include the linking of mood to weather (e.g. tears that fall like the rain, heart beating as loud as thunder or twinkling eyes like falling snowflakes); descriptions of settings (e.g. a patchwork quilt of autumn leaves; beams of sunshine or trees that rustled and whispered to one another) and finally descriptions of being frightened, or some other such emotion (being followed, hiding from someone or being found in hiding).