Advice for the Creative Writing element of 11 plus exams
The 11 plus exams, upon which students’ entry into UK Grammar Schools and Private Schools depends, test children’s understanding of core subjects: English, Maths, Verbal Reasoning, and Non-Verbal Reasoning. This article will focus on the creative writing test, which forms section B of the age 11 English paper.
Read on to find out about the following topics:
- the basics of what the 11+ creative writing test is;
- what may come up in the creative writing for 11 plus exams;
- how to revise for the 11 plus creative writing, including how PiAcademy can help;
- tips and tricks to help your child ace the exam in the moment;
- and guidance as to how you may tutor your child in creative writing yourself.
*** Please note: creative writing is not required in all iterations of the 11+ exams. Double-check whether your child will be tested on this subject! ***
First things first… what exactly is the 11 plus creative writing test?
The best way to get to know and understand the format of an exam is always to look at examples of past papers – if you haven’t done this yet, do so! Check which exam is relevant to you and familiarise yourself and your child with how it looks and what it asks for.
There are some differences between the 11 plus creative writing test for Private Schools and those for Grammar Schools. Review below a brief summary of each:
Private Schools’ 11 plus Creative Writing Summary:
Most private schools do test the creative writing of their prospective students; part B of the English paper is dedicated to creative writing.
Children will have 25-30 minutes to complete the section, choosing one of two questions choices to answer in this time. The questions are often based around the continuation of a provided storyline. Some schools, however, (e.g., Haberdasher Askes – a.k.a. ‘HABS’) also give the option of responding to a visual stimulus included in the question. Other schools could provide a random topic and have children write on this, such as describing a character or crafting a fictional diary entry around a given event.
Grammar Schools’ 11 plus Creative Writing Summary:
Unlike private schools, where most do test creative writing, many grammar schools will opt not to test children on this subject (again, be sure to check exactly which tests your child will face). Some schools do not test creative writing at all (e.g., Queen Elizabeth School – ‘QE Boys’ in Barnet), whereas others will only test this if the student passes the initial round of exams.
The style of creative writing testing at grammar schools is very similar to that detailed about private schools (above).
*** For a full list of schools, their information, and details of their testing habits check ‘Schools in the UK’ under the advice tab on our website! ***
For both grammar school and independent school tests, we suggest a planning time of 3-5 minutes before starting to write an answer. Planning ensures that the student remembers to include everything that they should, and will lead to a better and surer structure to their writing.
11+ Creative Writing Topics – what could come up?
In terms of 11+ essentials, creative writing examples are, of course, paramount. What should you expect from age 11 essay titles? What should you expect as topics for creative writing for 11 plus?
The easiest way to get your head around what your child needs to be prepared for is to consider the infinite unseen possibilities of questions within the following four categories:
- Descriptive tasks – A descriptive task may ask the student to describe a place or situation or continue a given storyline
- Persuasive tasks – A persuasive piece is more likely to take the form of a letter of complaint, or a student may be asked to script a convincing speech
- Narrative tasks – A narrative task would entail the composition of a short story
- Expository tasks – An expository task is more likely to require the writing of an explanatory article or set of instructions
As anything could come up in the test, it is helpful to think of ways to revise for each different type of question which may occur in the creative writing task.
How to Revise for the Wealth of Possible 11+ Creative Writing Topics…
With an unlimited number of possible topics to prepare for, flicking through a couple of creative writing books for 11 plus, or reading never-ending lists of 11 plus creative writing tips online, is sure to result in bewilderment… But the good news is – there is no reason to overwhelm yourself! We are here to help.
As always, we must advocate one very important element of exam preparation… Practice, practice, practice!
Key things to think about when practicing include writing skills such as grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. Throughout practice papers and in every piece of writing, these should be accurate and varied.
Sit down with your child and a list of creative writing topics for 11 plus and work through writing some practice answers – this is inarguably a strong start to their revision. However, no matter how many creative writing 11 plus topics you cover, these can only help a limited amount without the aid of an 11+ creative writing mark scheme; getting to know the mark scheme is the best way to understand what boxes your child’s writing must tick in order to succeed.
This all sounds like a lot of information for you to gather, doesn’t it? Well, this is where we come in! Currently, on the PiAcademy website, you can find 11 plus creative writing examples. That is, 11 plus essay titles for creative writing, along with an example plan and answer (remember the importance of planning!). As well as this, among the 11 plus tutoring courses, you can find an 11 plus creative writing course incorporated into the English courses.
And just when you thought we couldn’t be any more helpful – to add to the above, we have exciting news…
Introducing… in January 2020, our new 11 plus Creative Writing Guide!
PiAcademy’s new 11 plus creative writing resources will include 50 tasks to practice creative writing. Each of the four types of question mentioned earlier will be covered (15 descriptive writing tasks, 15 persuasive, 10 narrative, and 10 expository), and a mark scheme for parents’ use will be also included. The mark scheme will explain what constitutes a ‘poor response,’ as well as an example of ‘good response,’ and commentaries explaining why each is categorised so. An 11 plus creative writing PDF document will be downloadable, consisting of an invaluable checklist – this way you can ensure that your child includes everything they must! (Getting to know the checklist, and visualising it in the exam, is the perfect way for your child to successfully carry out their creative writing under time pressure.)
This will essentially be an online 11 plus creative writing workbook, with tips and tricks to maximise its usefulness! Perfect for parents who are opting out of hiring an 11 plus creative writing tutor.
Good luck with your revision, and eventually, exams… Remember:
- Always follow our checklists!
- PLAN your answer first!
- Practice each of the four question types!
Practice makes perfect, and our resources allow for lots and lots of practice! Don’t forget to check in in the new year to make the most of our new and improved 11 plus Creative Writing Guide.
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