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CSSE Continuous Writing Exam

Last updated: October 23, 2023

Child writing in a notebook

Introduction to the CSSE Continuous Writing Exam

In the CSSE English paper, there is a part of the exam called ‘Continuous Writing’ which is worth 15 marks (25% of the English paper). In the overarching English Paper’s mark scheme, the section is described as follows: “This will be marked as one piece of work and candidates will be expected to write in appropriate styles for the two contrasting tasks. Candidates will be assessed on accuracy, spelling, punctuation, the quality of writing, and originality”. For the CSSE Continuous Writing Exam, your child will be set two tasks and be required to write about a particular topic.

CSSE Continuous Writing Exam Questions

In this section of the English paper, your child will need to clearly showcase their creative writing abilities. This section is composed of two questions each of which your child should allocate roughly ten minutes, totaling 20 minutes for this whole section.

  • One of the questions is typically related to creative writing techniques.
  • One of the questions is typically related to writing for a certain purpose.


The questions will usually be phrased with starter words like ‘Describe…’ or ‘Explain…’ which will help your child figure out what the question is asking of your child; if it is asking for a more structured or more creative answer.

CSSE Continuous Writing Exam Mark Scheme

Marks will be determined based on the five following listed criteria; for your child to receive top marks, take a look at the following areas taken from Band 4 of the mark scheme which they will need to successfully cover:


  • Band 4: clear and original writing – may include abstract forms, philosophical ideas, metaphors, securely focused on the task (in content and style): ideas explored in depth.
  • Band 3: clear and effective writing, appropriately focused: ideas explained.
  • Band 2: content relates to task, no clear purpose in the writing: ideas listed.
  • Band 1: incoherent ideas that may be entirely irrelevant to task, writing unrelated to intended purpose.

Vocabulary (including Spelling):

  • Band 4: ambitious vocabulary used appropriately to enhance communication, spelling accurate for all basic vocabulary.
  • Band 3: some ambitious vocabulary used effectively (avoiding overly ornate vocabulary or expression that obscures meaning), spelling mostly accurate.
  • Band 2: basic vocabulary – ambitious words misapplied, spelling errors to simple words.
  • Band 1: limited clarity in choice of vocabulary, limited accuracy with spelling.


  • Band 4: secure tenses throughout.
  • Band 3: no specific criteria listed.
  • Band 2: no specific criteria listed.
  • Band 1: no specific criteria listed.


  • Band 4: securely structured in response to task with a clear sense of direction and originality throughout, connectives used appropriately, paragraphs used accurately, varied and effective sentence structure
  • Band 3: structured to communicate clearly (although not a creative sense of structuring), paragraphs in evidence, some variety in sentence structure.
  • Band 2: no paragraphs, basic sentence structure (may be missing sentence demarcation).
  • Band 1: no paragraphs, no sentence structure.


  • Band 4: punctuation varied and used creatively.
  • Band 3: punctuation limited (eg; just full stops – maybe commas) but mostly secure.
  • Band 2: some basic punctuation but not always accurate.
  • Band 1: limited punctuation.

CSSE Continuous Writing Past Paper Example Questions

Here are some past paper questions which your child can practice with:

2020 CSSE Continuous Writing Questions:

  • Write about a storm you have experienced. This could be a thunderstorm, a wind storm, a snow storm or another type of storm. You should aim to write at least six or seven sentences.
  • Write a story based on the picture below. You should aim to write at least six or seven sentences. (The picture was a black and white picture of a group of boys jumping off a dock into water.)


2019 CSSE Continuous Writing Questions:

  • Explain what is your favourite time in the whole year. You should aim to write at least six sentences.
  • Describe what gift or present you would most like to be given. You should aim to write at least six sentences.


2018 CSSE Continuous Writing Questions:

  • Aim to write six or seven sentences, explain what is your favourite part of a school day.
  • Aim to write six or seven sentences, describe what super-power you would best like to have and why.


2017 CSSE Continuous Writing Questions:

  • 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.
  • In six or seven sentences, describe the person or animal that you think of as your best friend.


2016 CSSE Continuous Writing Questions:

  • In six or seven sentences, describe one of your relatives and explain what you like about that person.
  • In six or seven sentences, write down, for a friend who wants to draw or paint a picture at home, what steps to go through before getting started.

How to secure top marks in the CSSE Continuous Writing Exam

Are you using sensory writing?

Describing by relating to the five senses – sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. This can help overcome some writer’s problems with wanting to just simply state how a character is feeling or what the setting is. Using the five sentences helps to instead immerse the reader in the character’s emotional state or setting.

For example, instead of writing: “Carol was feeling afraid as she stood on the beach.”, you could write: “Carol’s body felt as if it had been frozen in ice, as she stood looking out at the crashing sea.”

Try incorporating some of these literary devices into your writing to show your advanced writing skills, they can also help add to a sensory environment:

  • Metaphor – A figure of speech comparing two unlike things without using “like” or “as.” e.g. She’s got a heart of gold.
  • Motif – A recurring symbol, theme, or idea in a story e.g. in a story about growing up, you could keep using the symbol of a butterfly which can symbolise this change.
  • Onomatopoeia – Words that sound like what they mean, these can help add to a sensory environment. e.g. screech, crunch, or howl
  • Oxymoron – A phrase which contains terms that contradict each other e.g. deafening silence.
  • Pathetic fallacy – Evoking a mood (e.g. the main character’s mood) by attributing human emotions to inanimate objects or nature. e.g. It’s raining outside when a character is feeling sad. Sometimes pathetic fallacy may be paired with foreshadowing to hint at an upcoming ominous event, building tension in a story e.g. A brewing storm may suggest to the reader that trouble is on the horizon for a character. 
  • Personification – Giving human qualities to nonhuman subjects e.g. The trees whispered to each other.
  • Simile – A comparison using “like” or “as.” e.g. He was sly like a fox.

For more creative writing techniques, take a look at our creative writing glossary.

Are you using a range of sentences?

One aspect of varying your sentences is using a range of sentence lengths. Including short and long sentences helps to show you have an understanding of when to use a short or long sentence for certain effects.


  • Long sentences can create a sense of a journey that carries the reader along, they can include more extensive descriptions which can help the reader to visualise different elements of the story. e.g. (Writing about a race) He was racing through the woods, the trees flitting past him in watercolour blurs of green and brown, his heartbeat pounding a million miles a minute.
  • Short sentences, contrastingly, can be bold, clear, punchy, and impactful. e.g. (Writing about a race) He ran. Thump. Thump. Thump. He neared the line. Thump. Thump. Thump. He crossed it.

Another aspect of varying your sentences is using a range of sentence starters. Starting sentences in a variety of ways can also showcase your writing mastery. 


Here, are some sentence starters you could try using a variety of in your writing:


Here, In summary, Additionally, To summarise, On the other hand,  In conclusion, Moreover, Also, To review, In short, Still, On the contrary, All in all, Yet, Rather, This is evidenced by, All things considered, Overall, Nevertheless, As a result, For Instance, Specifically, In contrast, In the same way, Importantly, Contrastingly, On the Whole, First, Then again, Next, Otherwise, We can see this in, Furthermore, Then, After that, Eventually, Later, Consider, Notwithstanding, Afterwards, Subsequently, Similarly, Likewise, Again, Along those lines, In addition, For example, However, Although, Conversely, Despite that, Instead, Due to


You can use a variety of punctuation in your sentences to break them up and add emotional emphasis.


For example,


  • Asyndeton – Omission of conjunctions in a series of related clauses; antonym of polysyndeton. e.g. I came, I saw, I conquered.
  • Brackets – () Punctuation marks used to include additional information within a sentence. e.g. A trumpeter swan (native to North America) is the largest swan in the world.
  • Colon – A punctuation mark used to introduce a list, explanation, or example. e.g. I need to buy the following things at the market: eggs, butter, milk, and cream.
  • Comma – , A punctuation mark used to indicate a pause or separate elements in a sentence. e.g. Emily hugged her mother as tightly as possible, she loved her very much. 
  • Dash –  A punctuation mark used for emphasis or interruption. e.g. The scientist knew he had created something revolutionary – but it would be his downfall.
  • Ellipsis –  A punctuation mark indicating omitted words. e.g. She entered the dark tunnel…
  • Exclamation mark – ! A punctuation mark used to indicate a strong feeling or command. e.g. I want to be an astronaut!
  • Full stop – A punctuation mark indicating the end of a sentence. e.g. The door had shut closed.
  • Parenthesis – Additional or explanatory words or phrases enclosed in brackets or dashes. e.g. Amelia Earhart – the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean – is a great role model for young girls.
  • Question mark – A punctuation mark indicating a question. e.g. How do you know he did it?
  • Quotation marks – “” Punctuation marks used to identify speech, a quote, or a title. e.g. She leaned in and said, “I believe in you.”
  • Semi-colon – A punctuation mark used to separate closely related independent clauses. e.g. I saw a brightly-coloured bird; it was resting in a tree.

Are you using advanced vocabulary?

Try incorporating some of these challenging words into your writing to showcase your mastery of difficult language. It is important that you understand a word’s meaning, how to use it in context as well as how to correctly spell the word.

A – askance, accustomed, abundant

B – banish, bewildered, bleak

C – cease, calamity, cajole

D – deceit, disarray, disheveled

E – embellishment, ethereal, earnest

F – feasible, flamboyant, frivolous

G – graciously, gullible, garnish

H – habitual, hinged, humble

I – immortal, immerse, innovate

J – jargon, jeopardy, jibe

K – kindle, kaleidoscopic, kinetic

L – luminescent, latched, labyrinth

M – malleable, malicious, monastic

N – nonsensical, neglect, notorious

O – omnipotent, obsolete, ominous

P – peculiar, prosperous, perplexed

Q – quarrel, quaint, quagmire

R – resilient, retrospectively, respectively

S – succumb, serendipity, seldom

T – turbulent, tempestuous, trajectory

U – uncanny, unfathomable, unrivalled

V – validate, virtuous, vessel

W – whimsical, wheezed, wistful

X – xylophone, x-ray, xenial

Y – yammering, yearning, yield

Z – zealous, zeitgeist, zany

Creative Writing Course

If your child needs extra help preparing for the CSSE Continuous Writing Exam, consider signing them up for our creative writing course. 

Creative writing experts, especially those who specialise in difficult exams such as the 11+, can provide your child with targeted advice and personalised attention. They can help to identify your child’s strengths and weaknesses whilst developing strategies for improvement. 

A specialist writing tutor can ensure your child is comfortable with what is expected from them in the exam so they can feel confident in their abilities and remain calm under test pressure.

At Examberry, we have a great Creative Writing Course, designed to help your child reach their full potential in the lead-up to the 11+.

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