The 11 Plus CSSE Creative Writing Exam

Updated:March 15, 2024
Author:Creative Hare

As a parent, the journey of preparing your child for the CSSE 11 Plus Creative Writing exam can be both exciting and daunting. This examination not only tests your child’s creative abilities but also their critical thinking and writing skills

To ensure your child’s success, it’s essential to understand the exam format, common mistakes and effective strategies for preparation. 

In this guide, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know to help your child excel in the CSSE 11 Plus Creative Writing exam.

Understanding the CSSE 11 Plus Creative Writing Exam

The CSSE 11 Plus Creative Writing exam typically consists of two prompts, which could include a  picture, a phrase or a short written starter. Your child will then be asked to respond to the prompts within a specified time frame. 

The examiners are not just looking for grammatically correct sentences; they are seeking to see evidence of your child’s individual creativity. 

Areas to focus on:

  • Originality
  • Creative flair
  • Coherence in storytelling

Your child’s ability to engage the reader, develop characters and create a compelling plot or description are crucial aspects that examiners will be assessing.

Alright, so let’s talk about how to tackle those short and concise 11 Plus creative writing questions that ask for just one paragraph. Now, these questions might seem small, but they take a lot of skill and confidence to get right…Here are some ideas to help you guide your child through their preparation. 

Quick Plan

  • First off, remind your child to read the question carefully. Sometimes, in the rush of things, they might miss out on key details.

  • Once they’ve got a good grasp of what the question is asking, it’s time to brainstorm. Encourage them to jot down a few quick ideas or key points they want to include in their paragraph. These are just notes which won’t be graded so full sentences are not required here. This helps to keep their thoughts organised and ensures they don’t miss anything important.


Next up, it’s all about structure. Remind your child that even though they’re writing just one paragraph of about six sentences, it still needs to have a clear:


  • Beginning:

           The opening sentence should hook the reader and introduce the main idea.

  • Middle:

           Aim to develop that idea further with some details or examples.

  •  End:

The final sentence should wrap things up neatly.


Now, onto the actual writing. 


Encourage your child to keep it concise and to the point.


Every word counts in a short paragraph, so they should aim to use clear and impactful language. 


Remind them to vary their sentence structure, punctuation and use descriptive words to make their paragraph stand out, but be careful not to over do it!


Once they’ve written their paragraph, it’s time to revise.


Encourage your child to read through their work carefully, checking for any errors in grammar, punctuation or spelling.


They should also make sure that their paragraph flows smoothly and that each sentence connects logically to the next.

boy writing

Developing Unstoppable Confidence

Remind your child to have confidence in their writing. Even though it’s just one paragraph, every bit of practice helps.

Encourage them to trust their instincts and go with their gut when it comes to making creative choices. This is hugely important! 

So there you have it,  with a little bit of practice and some handy tips your child will be acing those short and concise 11 Plus creative writing questions in no time.

Keep cheering them on and watch their creativity soar!

Common Mistakes

Lack of Planning:

One common mistake that students make is diving straight into writing without planning their story. This often leads to disorganised narratives and incomplete ideas. 


Encourage your child to spend a few minutes dreaming and outlining their ideas, before they begin writing. This could involve jotting down key points, and the overall theme of the paragraph. 

Weak Introduction:

The beginning of a story or a description sets the tone for the entire narrative. It’s common for students to struggle with crafting a strong opening that captures the reader’s attention. 


Encourage your child to experiment with some different types of openings and choose the one they like the best e.g  an intriguing piece of action or a piece of dialogue to draw the reader in from the outset.


Lack of Character Development:

Effective storytelling requires well-developed characters that the reader can relate to and empathise with. 


Encourage your child to invest time in fleshing out their characters by giving them distinct personalities, motivations and backgrounds. 

This will add depth to their story and make it more engaging for the reader.

Poor Structure:

A common pitfall in creative writing exams is the lack of a coherent structure. Encourage  your child to organise their short story or description into a clear beginning, middle and end. 


Each part of the paragraph should focus on advancing the plot or developing the scene, ensuring a smooth flow of ideas throughout the narrative.


Basic Vocabulary:

Using a varied and sophisticated vocabulary is essential for creating vivid imagery and capturing the reader’s imagination.


Encourage your child to experiment with different words and phrases to convey their ideas more effectively. Reading widely and practising vocabulary exercises can help expand their repertoire of words.

Effective Strategies for Preparation

Practice Regularly:

Like any skill, creative writing improves with practice. Encourage your child to write regularly, whether it’s journaling, creating a comic book or creative exercises. Set aside dedicated time for writing practice and praise their efforts to help them improve.

Read Widely:

Exposure to a diverse range of books can inspire creativity and help your child develop their own writing style. Encourage your child to read a variety of genres, including fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

Discussing their reading material can also help them analyse narrative techniques and storytelling devices. Listening to audio stories can also work wonders for children! 

"If you are going to get anywhere in life you have to read a lot of books."

Roald Dahl

Time Management:

Time management is crucial during the exam, so help your child practice writing within a time limit. Book up several mock exams with similar prompts and time constraints to build a familiarity for the exam environment.

Encourage them to allocate time for planning, writing, and revising their writing to ensure they make the most of the specified time.


Seek Feedback:

Encourage your child to seek feedback on their writing from teachers, tutors or peers. Constructive criticism delivered in an optimistic way, can help motivate children to identify areas for improvement and refine their writing skills in a relaxed way. 

Encourage your child to be open to feedback and to use it as a tool for growth. 



Preparing for the CSSE 11 Plus Creative Writing exam requires dedication, practice and effective strategies. By understanding the exam format, common mistakes and implementing targeted preparation techniques, you can help your child feel confident and exam ready!

Quick Write!

Are you looking for some extra support to get your child ready for writing under timed conditions, why not give Quick Write! a try?

Just ping Clare an email at  to sign up. With Quick Write, your child will get a pack of 5 sessions, each lasting 45 minutes.

And here’s the best part: they’ll receive personalised feedback to aid progress. It’s all about helping your child progress and feel super confident and ready for those exams.

So why wait? Give Quick Write a shot and let’s get those creative juices flowing!