What is the Creative Writing Section of the 11+?

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There is no set answer here. Different schools will have different prompts. However, you will find that they fall into a few principal categories.

‘Continue the story’ prompts

These are very common. Here, you will be expected to take a piece that you have just read, digest it, and then continue the story. You will typically be expected to stick with the characters that you have already been introduced to, and explore what happens to them next. The key to this prompt is understanding the author and their characters, so that you can do them justice in your own writing. Try to think about what the characters are like, and what their motivations are. Then, have these motivations clearly on display in your own work. As an example, a poor character who is trying to win a prize at the fair is unlikely to be driving a big car in the next paragraph – but they are likely to be working hard at a solution that will allow them to outwit the unfair stall-holder in the fair and win the prize.

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Essay prompts

You might be asked to argue something. This will be something that requires little specific knowledge – this is a test of your ability to write, not of your general knowledge. Generally, your approach here should be as follows:

Introduction – briefly discuss the issue and provide some context to the reader.
Discuss one side of the argument – think about some points that evidence one side
Discuss the other side – then counteract these points and show that you can argue the other side
Conclude – provide a balanced conclusion that shows that you can weigh up information and then present it to your reader in an understandable and sensible way. If you need to argue one side in particular, then emphasise this side. You might find that rhetorical questions and repetition are useful tools when creating an argument.

Description prompts

If you are asked to write a descriptive piece, make sure that you do just that. Do not write a story! Instead, focus on creating a vivid scene for the reader. You will need to rely on imagery heavily here, as well as your vocabulary. Make sure to incorporate different senses as appropriate. You might want to think about zooming in and out – what does something look like up close? What does the greater scene look like?

Short story prompts

These are very common. You will need to create a story that engages the reader. Typically, you should feature a clear beginning, middle, and end. The beginning should set the scene, and allow the reader to visualise what’s happening. You can also provide general context that allows them to understand the setting. Then, the main part of the story should see the character face some adversity or some form of challenge. This can then be resolved in the final section, which should see this resolved.

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Real-life prompts

These are less common than ‘continue the story’ or short story / description prompts. They will ask you to consider something that happened to you, or someone that you know. However, you always have the option to imagine a situation or person too. Generally, it’s advisable to combine reality and fiction to some extent. If you’re asked to write about a pet dog – and you have a cat – then consider the features that you find interesting in your car and apply them to the dog. You will find it much easier if you draw on reality in this type of prompt. However, don’t feel that you need to be entirely constrained by your own experience.

Image prompts

These are quite rare. You will be provided with an image, or even two images, and asked to write a short story or description. Generally, either option will be available. You must ensure that the piece you create is obviously inspired by the image or you will not gain marks. Often you might find it easier to write a descriptive piece than a short story here – but ensure that your piece is vivid and full of colour and imagery if you choose this route.
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