Back to blog

Essex 11 plus (CSSE) guide

By Atom | Feb 15, 2024, 3:56 PM

The 11 plus in Essex

Are you considering a grammar school in Essex for your child? We’ve collated everything you need to know about admissions in 2024–2025. Keep reading to:

  • Find out more about grammar schools in Essex

  • Learn about the CSSE 11 plus exam

  • Discover which subjects your child will be tested on

  • Plus, get exclusive resources to help your child prepare!

Which schools use the CSSE 11 plus exam?

There are 11 grammar schools in Essex. 10 of these schools are members of the Consortium of Selective Schools in Essex (CSSE). They all use the same 11 plus exam. These schools are:

Chelmsford County High School for Girls is not a member of the CSSE. It uses a separate 11 plus exam which is provided by Future Stories Community Enterprise (FSCE).

Dates for your diary

  • Tuesday 14th May 2024: registration opens for the CSSE 11 plus

  • Friday 28th June 2024: registration closes for the CSSE 11 plus

  • Saturday 21st September 2024: CSSE 11 plus exam

  • Monday 14th October 2024: parents receive CSSE 11 plus results

  • Thursday 31st October 2024: secondary school applications close at 5pm

  • Monday 3rd March 2025: secondary school national offers day

Dates can vary, so always check with your target schools!

What is the CSSE 11 plus?

The Consortium of Selective Schools in Essex (CSSE) is a group of 10 grammar schools in Essex. All of the schools in the CSSE use the same selective test known as an 11 plus exam. This means that if you’re interested in more than one grammar school in the Consortium, your child only has to take the exam once.

The CSSE 11 plus takes place in September in Year 6. Children who were born between 1st September 2013 and 31st August 2014 will take the CSSE 11 plus in September 2024 for Year 7 entry in September 2025.

Normally, your child will take the test at the grammar school you have nominated in your registration form. If the school reaches its testing capacity, the CSSE will allocate an alternative test centre. Early registration is encouraged so that you have a better chance of your child taking the test at your preferred school.

What's on the CSSE 11 plus?

The CSSE 11 plus exam is bespoke to the Consortium. The papers are created by education professionals for the CSSE grammar schools.

The exam consists of an English paper and a maths paper.

CSSE English paper

The English paper lasts one hour, with an additional 10 minutes for reading. It consists of two sections.

The first section is a reading comprehension task. Children have 10 minutes to read a passage of text which could be fiction, non-fiction or poetry. They then answer questions to demonstrate their understanding of what they have read.

The second section is a continuous creative writing task. This involves writing a response to a prompt. Children are assessed on vocabulary, spelling, punctuation, grammar, the originality of their ideas, and the use of varied structure.

CSSE maths paper

The maths paper lasts one hour. Questions are based on the Key Stage 2 maths curriculum which your child learns at school, but they might be a bit more advanced than they’re used to.

The key topics are number and place value, operations, fractions (including decimals and percentages), ratio and proportions, measurement, geometry, and simple statistics. Your child will be assessed on their arithmetic, reasoning and problem-solving skills.

Atom Home

Tailored 11 plus prep

Preparation for the CSSE 11 plus is easy with Atom. Unlock unlimited 11 plus mock tests, smart data insights into your child's progress, and a completely tailored learning experience.

Discover Atom
English and maths learning plan on Atom Home

How is the CSSE 11 plus scored?

Your child’s papers will be marked by CSSE examiners. Up to 60 marks are available for each paper.

The final marks are then mathematically standardised and ‘weighted’. Each paper is worth 50% of the total mark.

After all the papers have been marked, the results will be analysed by date of birth to decide whether to use age-standardisation. This is a statistical process which ensures children born later in the school year aren’t disadvantaged.

What's the pass mark for the CSSE 11 plus?

Your child will need to achieve a total standardised score of at least 303 to qualify for a place at a CSSE grammar school. Some grammar schools have qualifying scores higher than this – we’ve included this information below.

4,977 children took the CSSE 11 plus for entry to an Essex grammar school in 2023. The range of standardised marks was 170.2–408.5. 2,634 children (52.9% of the total number of candidates) achieved a standardised mark of 303 or higher.

However, achieving this score doesn’t guarantee that your child will be offered a place. Grammar schools are often oversubscribed with qualified children. When this happens, schools use admissions criteria to prioritise groups of children for places. For example, children who live within a certain priority area (catchment area) might be prioritised for places.

Here are the lowest scores for which children were offered places at each school:

  • Colchester County High School for Girls: 333

  • Colchester Royal Grammar School: 340

  • King Edward VI Grammar School: 366

  • Shoeburyness High School: 305

  • Southend High School for Boys: 303 (inside priority area), 342 (outside priority area)

  • Southend High School for Girls: 303 (inside priority area), 324 (outside priority area)

  • St Bernard’s High School: 303. Selective places are only offered to children who live in the catchment area

  • St Thomas More High School: No selective offers were made in March 2023. Selective places are only offered to children who live in the catchment area and 303 is the minimum score.

  • Westcliff High School for Boys: 303 (inside priority area), 349 (outside priority area)

  • Westcliff High School for Girls: 303 (inside priority area), 342 (outside priority area)

How to apply to Essex grammar schools

If you're considering a grammar school in Essex for your child, it's a good idea to speak to your child's teacher first.

Grammar schools are academically-selective and select children working towards the top of their year group. Your child's teacher will be able to indicate whether they think your child will be able to keep up with the pace in a grammar school.

1. Register for the CSSE 11 plus

If you would like your child to be considered for a place at one of the 10 CSSE grammar schools, you’ll need to register them to take the CSSE 11 plus.

Registration is via a Supplementary Information Form (SIF) on the CSSE website. Registration for 2025 entry opens at 9am on Tuesday 14th May 2024 and closes on Friday 28th June 2024.

When you register, you’ll be asked to name the school where you would like your child to take the test. If the school reaches its maximum capacity, the CSSE will allocate your child to an alternative school. It’s best to register as early as possible for a better chance that your child will take the test at your preferred school.

2. Apply for school places

Your child’s test results will be sent to you in mid-October 2024. A guidance sheet will be published on the CSSE website which will show the scores of the last selective places offered at each CSSE school in March 2024. You can use these results to decide which schools to name on your secondary school common application form. Before listing a school on your form, check its admissions policy and make sure your child is eligible.

The application form must be submitted to your home local council by 5pm on Tuesday 31st October 2024.

3. National school offer day

On 3rd March 2025, you will find out which school your child has been allocated a place at. They will be allocated a place at your highest-preferred school for which they meet the entry criteria and which has places available.

If no places are available at your preferred schools, they will be offered a place at another school in your area. You can appeal via an independent panel. Information about how to appeal will be sent to you by your local authority along with your school offer on National Offers Day.

How can I help my child prepare for the CSSE 11 plus?

The CSSE 11 plus is designed to be challenging. Here are our top tips to help your child prepare for the exam in September 2024.

Bitesize learning

It’s important to build a good knowledge base before the 11 plus. Using a ‘little and often’ approach when learning is key – our brains encode new information more effectively when dealing with smaller ‘chunks’ of information. For children aged 10–11, child psychologists recommend regular study sessions of 20–30 minutes.

Atom Home makes learning a more enjoyable process for your child. They'll explore exciting worlds full of interactive questions, earning coins to spend in the Atom shop. Atom adapts to your child, showing them questions at just the right level of difficulty to keep them motivated.

A maths learning journey on Atom Home

Read widely

11 plus exams test your child’s ability to analyse and interpret written information. Regular reading is a great way to help your child build these skills.

Encourage them to read books from different genres and by a diverse range of authors. Increasing the variety of your child’s reading will help them understand different styles, tones and purposes. Meanwhile, reading a little every day will help widen their vocabulary, sharpen their analytical thinking, and enhance their imagination.

Refine exam technique

When your child feels confident with the topics they’ve learnt in Year 5, they’ll be ready to put their knowledge to the test.

Practice tests can help your child develop problem-solving skills and build confidence working under test conditions. They’re also a great way to consolidate learning and highlight knowledge gaps for further improvement.

With Atom Home, you'll unlock online mock tests and printable practice papers. Enjoy automatic marking and progress tracking with the online tests, and help your child get familiar with the real exam experience with printable practice papers.

A maths question on an Atom Home mock test

Celebrate progress

Setting regular, achievable goals and celebrating your child’s progress – no matter how big or small – will help keep their motivation high.

Make sure to encourage a growth mindset. This means celebrating effort, as well as achievement! When your child makes mistakes or struggles to understand a particular topic, help them understand that they’ll improve through practice. Regular praise will help your child improve their resilience when tackling new and challenging topics.

Tailored preparation for the CSSE 11 plus

Wish you could give your child a roadmap to success in the CSSE 11 plus? 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 grammar school. You just need Atom. We’ll create a tailored plan for your child and support them along their fun revision journey.

  • Online and printable 11 plus practice papers

  • 90,000+ adaptive questions

  • 500+ hours of on-demand video lessons

  • Automatic marking and instant progress data

Navigate the CSSE 11 plus with confidence.

Start your free trial today. Our local admissions specialists will get to work on your child’s plan. Relax, CSSE 11 plus prep is sorted.

Try Atom for free
Example of the Atom Nucleus platform

Atom Learning Ltd. is registered and incorporated in England and Wales. Company Registration Number: 10867907 VAT number: 316903508 Copyright Atom Learning Ltd. All rights reserved.