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11 plus creative writing

By Atom | Jun 3, 2024, 3:35 PM

Child concentrating while writing in a notebook with a pencil

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:

  • 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?

Children applying for 11 plus entry to selective schools 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.

Some grammar schools include creative writing as part of their 11 plus exams. We've included a list of these below.

Many independent senior schools include creative writing tests in their English exams. You can find out whether your child's target school includes creative writing in the entrance exam by visiting the 'admissions' page on the school website.

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Which grammar schools use creative writing exams?

Children applying to Reading School take an 11 plus exam set by Future Stories Community Enterprise. This includes a creative writing task.

What are common 11 plus creative writing themes?

The content and format of 11 plus creative writing tests can vary depending on the school. Some tests might ask your child to:

  • continue a short story based a paragraph of narrative text

  • describe a place or a situation

  • write a letter or an article to persuade the reader to feel a certain way

  • write their own short story based on some bullet points for guidance

  • write their own descriptive or narrative piece based on a picture

Getting used to writing for different audiences and purposes can put your child in good stead for 11 plus creative writing exams. Why not download Atom's creative writing prompts to get started?

What are examiners looking for?

Creative writing is subjective. After all, everyone has different interests when it comes to reading for pleasure! However, there are specific things examiners are looking for when marking 11 plus creative writing papers. These include:

  • Structure – does the piece have a clear beginning, middle and ending?

  • Creativity – has your child introduced unique ideas and demonstrated a strong imagination?

  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar – are they all accurate, and have they made use of sentence variety?

  • Vocabulary – have they used more advanced vocabulary (while making sense in context) than others their age? Have they introduced a wide range of adjectives, nouns and adverbs?

How to prepare for 11 plus creative writing tests

Developing creative writing skills can be one of the most challenging parts of preparing for exams. Here are our top tips to help your child become a confident writer!


Developing a wide and varied vocabulary is key for children to produce an interesting piece of writing. Including lots of adjectives and adverts is one of the best ways to grab a reader's attention.

We recommend that your child keeps a vocabulary log. As they read, they should record any new words with their definition and an example of the word used in a sentence.


In 11 plus exams, creative writing tasks usually last around 30 minutes (although this can vary from school to school). This isn't very long to produce an extended piece of writing – including planning time!

While it can be tempting to skip planning and start writing immediately, this will result in an unstructured piece of writing. As examiners are looking for evidence of a clear structure, your child may lose important marks.

We always recommend spending at least 5 minutes planning at the beginning of any creative writing exam. Your child should use this time to define what they will include in the beginning, middle and end of their piece.

Spelling, punctuation and grammar

Creative writing marks are not only awarded for content and creativity, but also for accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar. Your child can practise these topics on Atom Home.

Your child's learning plan includes questions and activities in Key Stage 2 English. These adapt to their performance, so they'll see questions at just the right level of difficulty to keep them motivated. On your 'Track' page, you can see how your child is progressing and any topics which need improvement.

Child's performance in punctuation on Atom Home


One of the most effective ways to improve writing is through reading. Reading is a fantastic way to introduce your child to new vocabulary, as well as accurate grammar and punctuation. Reading a wide variety of content and genres will expose them to new writing styles and ideas that they can incorporate into their work.

If your child enjoys a particular book, ask them why they like it. Is it the vivid character descriptions, use of adjectives, or adventurous plot? This can help your child recognise what to include in their own writing.

You can use prediction and storytelling games to help develop your child's creativity. Once they reach the end of a chapter, get them to write a paragraph on what they think will happen next. If they didn't like the end of a story, they can have a go at writing an alternative ending.

Looking for reading inspiration? Download Atom's free Key Stage 2 recommended reading list.

Tailored 11 plus preparation

Wish you could give your child a roadmap to success in their entrance exams? You can. Atom Home has everything you need to get prepared, in one package.

You don't need a tutor to get into your top-choice school. You just need Atom. We'll create a tailored plan for your child and support them along their fun revision journey.

  • Weekly learning plans for your target school's entrance exam

  • Online mock tests and printable 11+ practice papers

  • English, maths, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning

  • 90,000+ adaptive questions and 500+ hours of video lessons

  • Automatic marking and instant progress data

Navigate entrance exams with confidence.

Start your free trial today. We'll get to work on your child's bespoke plan. Relax – exam prep is sorted.

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Georgie's weekly exam prep plan on Atom Home

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