With 11+ tests and entrance examinations creeping closer it is important to remember that all aspects of the English papers need careful consideration and practice.

Emphasis is often put on the comprehension element within the exams. Of course it’s essential that students employ all the relevant strategies to their reading tests, such as identifying key words in the questions and planning carefully for longer answers, but the composition task is often worth just as many valuable marks.

Typical 11+ and entrance exam creative writing tasks are very demanding therefore the student needs to be well prepared. They are expected to write imaginatively, descriptively and also portray their individuality – a tall order for any writer when they only have 20 to 30 minutes to do so.

Preparing students for all of these aspects by practicing careful reading, undertaking proper planning and writing creatively in timed conditions doesn’t happen overnight. The art of story writing cannot be rushed, it takes time and needs the same careful nurture and support as playing an instrument or preparing for a big sports match.

Learning to write an original story, with a solid and clear beginning, middle and end, often with only a title for inspiration inside a short deadline, requires practice and time should be set aside every week to concentrate on this particular skill. Set parameters, for example; the story should be set in one location only and characters restricted to one or two at most.

Moving to continuation writing, this requires practice too and also preparation for the thought students need to put in to the extract provided. Specifically, thinking about what happened in the extract, what they learn about the characters from their dialogue and behaviour and to identify with the place or situation the character is in.

Establishing some empathy for the story’s protagonists and their circumstances means that students will find it easier to impart their own ideas about the characters or their settings in their answers. The examiner will be looking for awareness about how the characters are thinking and feeling, making these key elements.

Word association games are also a useful way to expand vocabulary and developing word banks can be helpful in boosting a student’s confidence. Experimenting with new narrative voices and styles also help to unleash creativity, developing strong skills both for the exams and all the way through their school experience.

If you are interested in online or face-to-face 11+ or entrance exam tutoring please contact me at info@ruthmitchelltutors.co.uk