Are you looking for help with preparing your child for the 11+ creative writing exam? It can be daunting for both parents and children to tackle, especially if it’s the child’s first time taking an exam. But don’t worry! This blog post provides an extensive guide to the 11+ creative writing exam, what to expect, how to prepare, and the best tips and techniques to succeed. I also provide a list of 11+ creative writing exam prompts and activities to help your child ace the exam. So let’s get started!
What is the 11+ Creative Writing Exam?
The 11+ exam is taken in Year 6 to gain admission to either a grammar or independent senior school in the UK. These entrance exams are highly competitive with an increasing number of children chasing places each year.
The main 11 plus exam boards ( GL , CEM and ISEB ) do not include creative writing tasks in their tests. However, independent school papers offer a variety of creative writing task options. Some highly competitive grammar schools will have a creative writing test in the second round of their admissions process.
The 11+ creative writing exam is an assessment of your child’s writing skills. The exam assesses your child’s ability to write imaginatively, to structure their writing clearly, and to use grammar and punctuation accurately. It is not a test to see if they are the next J K Rowling!
What to expect in an 11+ Creative Writing Exam
Typically, the creative writing element follows on from the reading comprehension section in an 11+ English exam. The writing section consists of a number of open-ended writing prompts – fiction and non-fiction – that require the student to compose a piece of creative writing in response. These may include the following:
- a short story
- a continuation of the comprehension passage
- an imaginative response to a picture prompt of character or setting,
- a personal recount
- a persuasive formal letter
- a discursive essay in the form of an article or even a speech.
Students are given a set amount of time in which to complete the task, which can range from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the requirements of the school. That’s not a lot of time, so it’s important for your child to have a plan so that they can make the most of the time they have.
How to prepare your child for the 11+ exam
Here are some tips for preparing for the exam:
- Understand the format of the exam and the type of tasks for your chosen schools.
- Research the topics and the prompts that are likely to be used in the exam.
- Plan time and practise writing stories and essays within the time limit.
- Have a clear structure for writing stories and essays with a strong beginning, middle and end.
- Become familiar with the marking criteria and practise writing stories and essays that meet the criteria.
- Read as much as possible to improve writing skills.
- Read and edit writing to make sure it is error-free.
- Get feedback from an experienced 11+ creative writing tutor to identify areas for improvement.
A word of warning. These days 11+ creative writing exams are designed to be tutor-proof so the exam format of your child’s chosen school may change. The best way round this is to make sure that your child has practised a wide variety of creative writing tasks so that they can tackle any questions that might be set in an exam. Joining a course like the 11+ Creative Writing for Exams will ensure that your child has learned how to tackle all the different writing tasks with confidence.
Techniques for planning and structure
A writing plan is essential for structuring a successful 11+ creative writing exam piece. Having a plan will help your child structure their piece, focus on the main points, and ensure that their writing flows logically. You child could use a mind map, a flow chart , a spider diagram or a list of bullet points. It’s important that they get plenty of practice and find a method that works best for them.
Top tips and strategies to ace the creative writing paper
Your child should be able to:
- use a wide range of figurative language and literary devices
- use a rich and varied vocabulary
- vary their sentence starters to create flow in their writing
- vary their sentence lengths to create tension and build atmosphere
- use good range of sophisticated punctuation
- paragraph their writing clearly
- edit and proofread their writing
These are the criteria that the examiner will be looking for in a piece of creative writing.
Editing and Revising Writing
Editing and revising writing is a crucial step in the creative writing process. It’s important for your child to be able to identify weaknesses in their work and make improvements to ensure that their writing has maximum impact. Revising and editing are also essential for achieving good results in the 11+ Creative Writing Exam. Children who check their work thoroughly tend to score higher marks than those who don’t.
When editing and revising their work, it’s important for your child to be aware of common mistakes that can easily be overlooked. For example, make sure to check for subject/verb agreement, incorrect verb tenses, redundant words and phrases, and misspellings. It’s also important to ensure that your narrative is consistent and that there are no plot holes.
What if my child has a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia, ASD, ADHD?
For many schools and exam boards, inclusivity is a top priority. To ensure that your child can receive the best support possible during the entrance exam, simply provide a formal report or letter of diagnosis from a professional such as an educational psychologist or psychiatrist when registering. The school can make arrangements such as extra time or a quiet room to suit your child’s needs. Children with learning difficulties often struggle with low self-esteem and confidence – and I say this both as a mum of two children with specific learning difficulties and a tutor! Getting your child extra support to help them prepare thoroughly for the exam can make a world of difference to them – and you.
Creative Writing Exam Tasks
Here’s a list of creative writing questions from 11+ papers for your child to practise:
Write a short story using on of these titles: The Storm, The Treehouse, Alone, Run for Cover!, The Last Day, The Railway Carriage, A Mysterious Stranger, The Mist, The Magic Door, The Secret Letter.
Write a short story which features a talking animal; write a story where someone’s wishes come true in an unexpected way; write a story in which a journey goes wrong in a real or imagined way.
Write a letter to your headteacher asking for school uniform to be abolished. Write a letter to the Prime Minister arguing for a four-day working week. Write an article for a school magazine discussing the use of mobile phones for primary school children. Write about your favourite holiday.
At the end of the day, acing the 11+ Creative Writing Exam is about practice, preparation and hard work. By putting in consistent effort, your child will be well on their way to acing the creative writing exam and showing off their writing skills. If you would like more help with your child’s writing as the exam approaches, then book them a place on the 11+ Creative for Exams Intensive Course in August. For younger children setting out on their 11+ preparation, the Story Writing Course is the perfect starting point.
11+ Creative Writing Checklists!
Help your child edit their writing and tick all the right boxes!
Get our list of 5 essential 11+ Creative Writing Checklists to help your child ace their 11+ English exam.
Our handy booklet includes the following checklists:
- Narrative writing
- Descriptive writing
- Persuasive writing
- Newspaper article
- Personal recount
Each checklist is separated into two sections: features and text and structure.
To get your copy, please click the button below!