The Essex CSSE 11 Plus Exam: Continuous Writing Section

The Essex CSSE 11 Plus Exam: Continuous Writing Section

Last updated 31st May 2021 – we recommend you always check the relevant websites for the latest information as examinations change relatively frequently!

In this post, we discuss what to include in the Continuous Writing section of the Essex CSSE 11 Plus Exam.

This is the part of the CSSE examination where you will be given two tasks and asked to write a number of sentences on a subject or topic. Usually one question is based on creative techniques whilst the other is focused on writing for a specific purpose. You should spend 20 minutes on this section (10 minutes per question) and there are 15 marks in total (25% of the English paper). The purpose of this section of the examination is for children to show off their creative writing skills in a succinct and clear manner.

One question is usually a little more ‘realistic’ than the other. It might be more focused and need a structure to the answer. It can still include some creativity though! The other question is usually a little more creative. Look out for the key words describe or explain or instruct to work out which question is looking for which skills. Both questions will be marked on spelling, punctuation and grammar.

The CSSE marking criteria picks out the following areas:

  • Ideas – clear and original writing, securely focused on the task, ideas explored in depth.
  • Grammar – secure tenses used throughout.
  • Structure – securely structured, clear sense of direction, connectives used appropriately, paragraphs used accurately, varied sentence structure.
  • Vocabulary – ambitious vocabulary, accurate spelling for all basic vocabulary.
  • Spelling and punctuation – varied punctuation, used creatively and accurately.

Example CSSE Questions

  • Write about a storm (either that you have experienced or imagined). This could be a thunderstorm, a wind storm, a snow storm or another type of storm. You should aim to write at least six sentences.
  • In six or seven sentences, write about a time, real or imaginary, when you were looking forward to a special day out, but in the end somebody fell ill and it did not happen.
  • Explain what is your favourite time in the whole year. You should aim to write at least six sentences.
  • In six or seven sentences, describe the person or animal that you think of as your best friend.
  • Writ a description of a woodland scene. Try to make it as imaginative as possible.
  • Explain, in your own words, how you would clean your room. Give clear instructions and include as much detail as possible.
  • Describe what gift or present you would most like to be given. You should aim to write at least six sentences.
  • Describe what super-power you would best like to have and why. Aim to write six or seven sentences.
  • Aim to write six or seven sentences. Explain what is your favourite part of a school day.
  • Write six or seven sentences describing your classroom to a friend who has never seen it.
  • Write down, in six or seven sentences, instructions for a younger brother, sister or friend on how to clean their teeth.
  • Write six or seven sentences describing an animal. For example, a cat, a dog, a guinea pig, a horse. Make your writing as vivid as possible.
  • In six or seven sentences, write down clear instructions how to make a piece of toast with jam. Make your writing as precise as possible
  • You may be asked to write a story based on a picture. Again, this would be writing at least six or seven sentences.

What to include in the CSSE Continuous Writing Section

If you are asked to describe

  • Include the ‘show, don’t tell’ technique to describe emotions and settings.
  • Use your senses to describe what is happening.
  • Vary your sentence openers.
  • Include figurative language.
  • Vary your sentence lengths.
  • Don’t forget some ambitious vocabulary.
  • Try and include a variety of punctuation.

Remember to try and be original in your writing. All children are answering the same questions; you want yours to stand out from everyone else. It is only six or seven sentences so try to make every sentence count.


Example Answers

Here are two of our examples of possible answers:

1) Aim to write six or seven sentences. Explain what is your favourite part of a school day.

The best part of a school day starts when aromatic spices waft through the gap under the classroom door, shortly followed by a shrill-like bell which seems desperate to inform us of the news. Hurriedly, we pack away our books and race to get to the front of the line. My stomach roars like a lion as I enter the canteen, grabbing a tray and darting towards the shiny, metallic trays. The room is buzzing with chattering and the clanking of serving spoons. My eyes widen as my plate becomes piled up with crunchy colourful vegetables, steaming rice, succulent sausages and my favourite spicy aromatic sauce. I am ravenous!  As my teeth sink into that first bite, a wave of happiness flows through my body; it is lunchtime.

What skills can you spot in this piece of writing?


2) In six or seven sentences, write down clear instructions how to make a piece of toast with jam. Make your writing as precise as possible.

First, grab a slice of bread from your cupboard or fridge. Drop it inside your shiny toaster, ensuring that it is plugged in and switched on at the wall. Press the lever of the toaster down and stand back, whilst the golden light heats up your bread and turns it into crispy toast. Carefully check that your toast does not burn or turn charcoal-black! Once it has popped, place your warm toast on a plate and using a knife, smother your toast with a generous amount of your favourite jam. Finally, be sure to cover all the corners of your toast so that every mouthful is heavenly. Enjoy!

Can you see how I have kept the instructions precise, whilst still managing to use some descriptive words and phrases?

How can Bright Light Education help with 11+ Creative Writing?

Creative Writing Course

Bright Light Education run highly popular online Creative Writing Courses for Years 4-6 children, including those preparing for 11+ examinations.


1) Creative Writing Course 1

The aim of this course is to build and feed your child’s love of creative writing. It seeks to inspire and encourage a love of writing and will be fun-filled but with hard work along the way!

In the first six sessions, we focus on learning different skills or techniques, including mastering figurative language, using the Show Don’t Tell technique, and learning how to build suspense effectively.

In the second six sessions, we focus on learning how to structure a story, including describing the character and setting, as well as learning how to create a powerful story starter and first paragraph.

Our Creative Writing Skills book is used throughout this course.

Read more here.


2) Creative Writing Course 2

This course follows on from Creative Writing Course 1. Within this course, children learn how to write for different purposes, writing both fiction and non-fiction pieces of work. We focus on a different task each week, including recounts, playscripts, discursive writing, autobiographies, continuing the story, persuasive writing, newspaper reports, short descriptive writing and story writing.

Writing skills and techniques are re-capped throughout the course, as well as teaching children other writing features not covered in Course 1. Vocabulary is built upon each week.

This course is launching from September 2021. 


Our courses usually become fully booked very quickly. Please contact us at info@brightlighttuition.com to join our waiting list so that you hear new dates first. You can also subscribe to our monthly newsletter by clicking the link here.