Updated: Jul 9
Many parents of children sitting the 11+ examination will be aware of some grammar schools they have applied to include a creative writing piece, alongside a comprehension paper. Some papers may be in multiple-choice format too depending on the exam body in your local area. Not all grammar schools set a specific English test, the schools that set extended writing tests are those in areas where competition for places is in demand,
In the writing task, children are typically asked to write a story, script or diary entry or produce a leaflet, letter or news report. Some areas give children a choice, while others expect them to complete a set task.
Some schools may administer their own 11 plus English papers. Others including Granada Learning (GL) use tests in multiple-choice format, and the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) use a mixture of standard testing and multiple-choice formats. Whichever your chosen school uses, test papers will commonly check for the following:
For your child to do well, their plot needs to show a clear beginning, middle and end. The plot must make sense and engage the reader by being different and as unique as possible. When creating the setting and characters, they need to be planned out properly. Any problems encountered within the story must be interesting and reach a good conclusion by the end. To do this effectively, a plan should be made before starting.
There are two ways to impress the examiner with various vocabulary. For top marks in 11 plus writing, “exceptional words” should be used at least 5 times, and other “decent vocabulary” should be used at least 10 times. Some ways you can help your child improve on their vocabulary is through reading different types of challenging books, this may also help if they find reading texts uninteresting. If they have a list of challenging words they can define and understand, they should practice including them in their writing!
Devices and Sentence Structure:
Reading will help your child to identify different types of devices, such as; similes, metaphors, personification, onomatopoeia, repetition, alliteration and more. Using different sentence types such as short sentences can build tension, hyperbole, irony and juxtaposition makes the story more interesting. A range of complex and compound sentences should be shown too. If any are used, they should be used effectively, not at random places in the text where they may not make sense.
Paragraphs should follow a TipTop rule: start new paragraphs with a new time, person, topic and place. Using effective paragraphs, especially for writing purposes such as persuading and informing, will help break down the ideas and make the writing flow.
Encouraging your child to use different sentence starters will help your child’s writing sound more engaging. If your child is writing a discussion piece, sentence starters help your child effectively communicate their ideas, and is also a great way to implement any points made in their plan at the beginning of the writing task.
Grammar and Punctuation:
It is okay to make mistakes but high scoring pieces tend to make only one or two. Basic grammar includes using appropriate nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions and interjections. It is a good idea to run through activities using different homophones, especially their/there/they’re and too/to/two and bare/bear. Additionally, high scoring tests include a range of punctuation, including at least one or two semicolons and colons used appropriately, as well as apostrophes being used for possession or omission. Students also need to be mindful when using the active and passive voice correctly in their writing and use commas to connect two ideas in a sentence. Most students also confuse the different tenses in their writing, so it is always good to proofread sentences and the final piece again to see if it fits with what's happening and when.
The examiners want to see students spelling complicated words correctly in order to gain top marks. Using less complicated words and spelling them all correctly may result in a good mark but the examiner wants to see a range of vocabulary too, even if this word may be spelt wrong, it will be best to use it.
This is extremely important but can be trickier to implement as children spend increased time using technology such as computers, tablets, iPads and mobile phones. If your child’s examiner finds the writing illegible, or you can see your child takes too long to write the whole task in the allocated time, it’s time to start prioritising this a bit more at home. Set your child some writing tasks and go through improvements together. Even if your child's exam does not contain a creative writing section, writing in the allocated time is a crucial skill for their future examination at KS3 and GCSE level.
At Ed Tree, we are here to help your child prepare for their 11 plus exams. Students are provided with an engaging bank of online resources to help them practice as many question types as possible. Tutors also set creative writing pieces inside and out of the lessons where they are marked and given useful feedback.