Ace The 11 Plus Creative Writing Exam

Updated:March 25, 2024
Author:Creative Hare

Hello parents! If your child is preparing for a competitive 11 Plus Creative Writing exam, you might be wondering how you can support them in achieving those high marks. Well, fear not! I’ve got some handy tips and tricks that will help your budding writer shine brightly in their test.


First things first, let’s understand what the 11 Plus Creative Writing exam is all about. The exam format, which varies, according to the school, is designed to assess your child’s ability to express themselves creatively through writing.


It’s not just about grammar and punctuation (though those are important too!), but also about imagination, writing skills and your child’s unique writer’s voice. 


So, how can you help your child prepare for this creative challenge?


Here are some strategies to get those creative juices flowing:


Read, Read, Read:

Encourage your child to read widely and voraciously. Exposing them to different genres, styles, and authors will help broaden their imagination and vocabulary. Plus, reading is one of the best ways to learn about storytelling techniques and narrative structures.

Below are some book recommendations for children in Year 5 to help them prepare for their 11 Plus exam.

Whilst there is no set reading list for the 11 Plus, books that stretch and genuinely interest your child will be key.

  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Why it’s recommended: 

‘The Secret Garden’ is a beautiful story of friendship, healing and the power of nature. Set in the enchanting English countryside, it’s a wonderful example of descriptive writing and vivid imagery. The themes of resilience and transformation make it an inspiring read for young readers and a great source of inspiration for their own creative writing.

  • His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman

Why it’s recommended:

Pullman’s epic trilogy is a captivating blend of fantasy, adventure, and philosophy.

My students have loved these books!

Set in parallel worlds filled with witches, armoured bears, and mysterious particles, the series explores complex themes with lyrical prose and intricate world-building. The ambitious vocabulary and thought-provoking ideas make it a rewarding read for young readers preparing for the 11 Plus exam.

  • Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Why it’s recommended:

Inkheart is an enchanting novel follows the adventures of Meggie and her father Mo, who has the ability to bring characters from books to life. Filled with magic, mystery and literary references.

The book is a celebration of the power of storytelling. The rich vocabulary and evocative descriptions make it an excellent choice for expanding a child’s language skills while igniting their imagination.

  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud

Why it’s recommended:

Set in an alternate version of London where magic and politics collide, Stroud’s trilogy follows the exploits of a young magician named Nathaniel and his wise-cracking djinni, Bartimaeus.

Filled with wit, humour and intricate world-building, the series is a masterclass in fantasy storytelling. The sophisticated vocabulary and complex characters make it an engaging read for older children preparing for the 11 Plus exam.

  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Why it’s recommended:

Tolkien’s masterpiece is a classic fantasy adventure filled with rich language and vivid descriptions. It introduces readers to a world of elves, dwarves, wizards and dragons, all woven together in an epic quest.

The elaborate world-building and sophisticated vocabulary make it a great choice for expanding a child’s vocabulary while immersing them in a fantastical world.


  • Matilda by Roald Dahl

Why it’s recommended:

Roald Dahl’s ‘Matilda’ is a gorgeous tale of a young girl with extraordinary powers and a love for books. It’s not only an entertaining read but also showcases the power of imagination and the importance of standing up for what’s right. The witty dialogue and memorable characters make it a perfect choice for aspiring young writers.


These books not only provide enjoyable reading experiences but also serve as excellent examples of:

  • storytelling
  • character development
  • descriptive writing – all skills that are essential for success in the 11 Plus Creative Writing exam.

Plus, they’re likely to ignite a love for reading and writing in young minds, which I believe is the most valuable preparation of all.

Practice Makes Perfect:

  • Set aside regular time for your child to practice writing creatively.
  • Provide them with prompts or encourage them to come up with their own story ideas.
  • Remember, the more they practise, the more confident they’ll become in their writing abilities.

Booking several mock exams can significantly benefit children (and you!) by:

  • familiarising them with exam formats
  • identifying areas for improvement
  • reducing anxiety
  • fostering a proactive approach to exam preparation

Reducing Exam Anxiety:

Anxiety can significantly impact exam performance. Through repeated exposure to mock exams, children can gradually desensitise themselves to exam-related stressors, thus reducing anxiety levels when facing the real exam.


The 11 Plus Creative Writing exam (simulating real exam conditions)

Taking mock exams under exam-like conditions, such as in a quiet environment with a strict time limit, helps children simulate the pressure and atmosphere of the actual exam. This prepares them mentally and emotionally for the challenges they will face on exam day.

Time Management Skills:

Mock exams help children practise time management skills by working within a set time limit to complete the exam. Learning to allocate time to different sections or questions is crucial for success in real exams.


Encourage Creativity

  • Remind your child that there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to creative writing.
  • Encourage them to think outside the box, experiment with different ideas and let their imagination run wild. Creativity thrives in an environment free from criticism.
  • Harnessing their unique ideas within a simple structure will be excellent preparation.


Focus on Structure

  • While creativity is key, it’s also important for your child to understand the basic structure of a story.
  • Teach them about the elements of plot – beginning, middle and end – and how to develop characters and settings. A well-structured story will not only be more engaging but also easier to write and for the examiner to follow. 

Edit and Revise:

  • Emphasise the importance of editing and revising their work. Encourage your child to reread their stories critically, looking for ways to improve clarity, coherence and style.


  • Remind them that writing is a process, and even famous authors need to edit their work multiple times before it’s ready to be shared. This is a skill that can take time for children to develop, be patient and know that with practise, it will feel easier. 


Vary Vocabulary

  •  Encourage your child to use a wide range of vocabulary in their writing.


  • Encourage them to use descriptive language to bring their stories to life and to avoid repetitive words or phrases. A rich and varied vocabulary will not only impress the examiner but also make their writing more engaging and vibrant.


Writing Under Timed Conditions

  • 11 Plus Creative Writing exams are conducted under timed conditions, so it’s important for your child to practise writing within a set time frame.


  • Set aside regular sessions where they have a limited amount of time to plan, write and edit their stories. This will help them learn to manage their time effectively ahead of their mock exams. 

Stay Positive and Supportive

  • Finally, remember to stay positive and supportive throughout the preparation process.


  • Encourage your child to do their best, but also remind them that it’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them. This is so important. 


  • Building confidence and resilience is just as important as mastering the technical aspects of writing.



In conclusion, preparing for the 11 Plus Creative Writing exam doesn’t have to be daunting.

With focused practice, creativity and support from you, your child will excel in their test and showcase their writing talents to the fullest.

So, encourage your child to grab a pen, unleash their  imagination and let the storytelling begin!

Are you looking to accelerate your child’s creative writing confidence?


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