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Creative writing in the 11 plus: parents’ guide

By Atom | Jun 29, 2023, 8:33 AM

Creative writing guide for parents

If your child is preparing for secondary school entrance exams, you may have heard conflicting information about whether there will be a creative writing task. Read on to find out exactly:

  • What to expect from 11 plus creative writing exams

  • How to help your child prepare

  • Which schools will require your child to do a creative writing test

What is 11 plus creative writing?

11 plus applicants may need to complete a creative writing task as part of the exam. The task could be to write an original short story or continue a story from a given text.

The main 11 plus exam boards (GL Assessment and the Independent Schools Examinations Board (ISEB)) do not include creative writing tasks in their tests. If a school includes a creative writing element, it has likely been set by the school itself.

Private secondary schools might ask candidates to write an essay or a creative writing piece as part of their entrance exams. Some grammar schools set a creative writing task, but this is usually only marked in 'borderline cases' (such as when deciding between two children who achieved the same score in the main papers).

The 11 plus creative writing task usually has a short time frame. Pupils need to draft, write and review their work in under an hour (depending on the school's exam format).

What to expect in a creative writing exam

In most creative writing exams, your child will be given an imaginary scenario and 30–45 minutes to write about it. Here are some examples of creative writing topics your child might be asked to write about in the exam:

  • The natural world, e.g. Imagine you are on a desert island

  • Activities, e.g. Describe a hobby you like doing

  • Animals, e.g. What animal are you frightened of and why? or What animal would you most like to be?

  • Emotions, e.g. Imagine you are lost in a forest or Imagine you just got the best news ever

Which grammar schools use creative writing exams?

Children applying to grammar schools within the Consortium of Selective Schools in Essex (CSSE) will have a writing task as part of their 11 plus exam.

They will need to create a creative response to a prompt. The examiner will be looking for original ideas, accurate vocabulary, spelling, puncutation and grammar, and an appropriately varied structure.

11 plus creative writing resources

Creative writing guide for kids

In this article, we share the story-writing framework that will support your child to confidently complete the creative writing paper in an exam.

Your child will learn how to create great beginnings, endings, and characters, how to plan and structure effectively, and what examiners will be looking for.

Read now
Creative writing guide for kids

Reading lists

Great readers make great writers! Getting familiar with the features of fiction across a range of genres, time periods and settings will help inspire your child.

Download our Key Stage 2 reading list for our top suggestions. Suitable for children aged 7–11.

Download reading list
Reading comprehension exam skills

Build tension and suspense in writing

These skills will be useful for writing exams or simply writing for fun!

Your child will learn how to withhold information to build tension, write effective descriptions, and create a momentous climax to a story.

Learn more
Suspense and tension in writing

Live creative writing lessons

Get a free taster selection of Atom Learning live lessons! Join Atom's mailing list to unlock six video lessons, including tips for writing masterful mysteries, fantastic fantasies, and an 11+ past paper walkthrough.

Unlock lessons
Choosing an online learning platform

Creative writing prompts

Join Atom's email list and get a free set of fun fiction and non-fiction writing prompts which you can use to help your child hone their creative writing skills. Download your 11 plus creative writing pdf now!

Download prompts
Guide to 11 plus verbal reasoning papers

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