The Full Guide to CSSE Continuous Writing: How to Gain Top Marks (With Examples)

Posted on April, 2024

Introduction

The CSSE continuous writing section is a part of the  11 plus exam where many students struggle. Creative writing can be a challenging area to master, so this blog will help you understand what’s required for success, and how to approach certain question types.

As the creative writing section accounts for 25% of the marks in the paper, students must be well-prepared for the challenge.

Watch Our CSSE Writing Walkthrough:

We will include examples of each question type in a free downloadable PDF. Usually, the two tasks are slightly different from each other in terms of what would be required, so the candidate should always consider the intended purpose of the piece of writing.

Students doing creative writing

The Test Format

Each candidate will be presented with two questions. You should spend around 20 minutes on this section, and the number of available marks is 30 (each question worth 15).

  • Ideas – clear and original writing
  • Grammar – secure tenses, and correct punctuation
  • Structure – a 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

The Question Types

By no means is this an exhaustive list, but here are some of the question types of which you will need to be aware:

Vivid Description of Place/Object/Character

With a vivid description of a place or character, it is helpful to start with a wider focus before narrowing in on key elements. It also can help if the thing you are describing has some unusual/unique features.

In terms of what you will be expected to achieve with a descriptive task, you should concentrate on making your description as vivid as possible, and ensure that you use many techniques and interesting vocabulary.

Don’t be afraid to include some small anecdotes that enhance your description. Rounding off with an enjoyable closing sentence can mark out your answer as cohesive, and more impressive than other entries.

If a student has trouble coming up with imagery and vocabulary, a great source of ideas is the Descriptosaurus.

Example Question:

Describe your favourite place in detail.

Garden description photo
The student should try to visualise the scene a little before writing

Example Answer

My garden is quaint –  a place of solitude and tranquillity. The grass surrounding me is lush, bouncy, and feels cool underfoot. Although it is often a quiet place, sometimes the call of small nesting birds fills the air, and during summer, pollinating insects fill the air with their characteristic drone.

My father sometimes breaks this peace by ripping through the grass with his mower, but it’s all worth it afterwards, as the lawn is neat and tidy. Afterwards, the garden becomes the perfect place for my brother and I to play football – we often use the pots as goalposts, inciting the ire of our mother.

The garden is a source of peace and calm for all the family, but it also a source of joy for all.

Set of Instructions

A set of instructions should be clear, concise and precise. Use fronted-time adverbials to ensure that your writing has a clear structure for the reader.

Examiners also prefer if students do not use numbers to indicate each step in the instructions (this is a bit silly).

Example Question:

Write a set of instructions on how to make a sandwich.

Example Answer:

To start, gather all your ingredients on the kitchen counter and place two slices of bread on a clean plate.

First, take one slice of bread and spread your favourite condiments using a butter knife (mayonnaise, mustard, etc.).

Next, add your desired fillings on top of the condiments. You can use sliced turkey, cheese, lettuce, tomato, or any other filling you like.

Carefully, place the second slice of bread on top of the fillings to create a sandwich.

Gently press down on the sandwich to ensure all the ingredients stick together.

Using a sharp knife, cut the sandwich in half if you’d like.

Finally, you can enjoy your sandwich!

Short Account of an Event

A short account of an event should inform the reader about the circumstances surrounding this event, and provide plenty of specific detail about what has happened. Creative writing techniques and effective vocabulary can be employed to enhance the emotive impact of the writing. It is a nice idea to include some personal reflection on what the event meant to you.

Example Question:

Describe a time when you helped someone.

Example Answer:

My friend needed help with long division – a particularly torturous topic in maths. I looked at some of the sums he had attempted in his book and then tried a few of the ones he had myself and realised that he had divided the divisor by digits of the dividend.

I showed him step-by-step how to do the problems, and then gave him one to attempt independently. Then, I carefully checked his answer, and he was correct. To ensure this successful attempt wasn’t a fluke, I gave him five further problems and checked them with a calculator.

It was satisfying helping my friend understand something, and I also think that it helped me understand long division better.

The Ultimate Creative Writing Workout!

Opinion About Something

Expressing your opinion about something involves showing your particular views on a topic, but acknowledging other perspectives and viewpoints. Ensure you are balanced in your assessment, and express your ideas clearly.

Demonstrating personal insight into a topic is a nice touch that you can add to your writing. In a basic sense, you are writing a mini-essay.

Example Question:

Do you think students should have homework over the weekend?

Example Answer:

I believe receiving homework over the weekend is usually a brilliant idea as it is crucial to review what you’ve done during the week. I usually spend around an hour on Saturday, and an hour on Sunday on my homework, and it doesn’t feel particularly taxing.

Although some people may have packed weekends – one of my friends comes to mind in particular – most children have the time to complete a little of the homework. If a child has a lot of other things to do at the weekend, it’s possible that a parent can contact the teacher directly to let them know that it might be difficult to complete all of the work.

Overall, it seems fair that students ought to have homework over the weekend unless there are extenuating circumstances which prevent its completion.

CSSE Set 1 Practice Exams

A Wish About the Future

This question is challenging, just like the last question type because it requires a student to have a wider grasp of the world and have thought through ideas deeply.

It is almost impossible to have hopes and wishes for the future if you have not spent any time reflecting on it.

Example Question:

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

Example Answer:

If I could change one thing about the world, I would want to end world hunger.

It’s hard to believe that in a world with so much wealth and abundance, there are still millions of people who don’t have enough to eat. Hunger not only causes suffering but also holds people back from reaching their full potential. By ensuring that everyone has access to nutritious food, we could make the world a much better place for everyone.

No one should have to go to bed hungry.

Conclusion

So, that’s how any student can deal with the CSSE creative writing and get top marks. Naturally, it takes a lot of practice to improve creative writing, so any student should attempt creative writing tasks regularly.

To practice these writing topics for yourself, download the free worksheets below:

11+ CSSE English – Continuous Writing

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