What to expect in the 11+ English paper

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This Guidance has been written by a current member of staff at a Southend Grammar school and is intended to give an indication of what to expect in the English paper for the 11 plus test in this Local Authority. Please note that this information is for guidance purposes only and has not been endorsed by the CSSE.

The total length of the English paper is 1 hour and 10 minutes (70 minutes).

Reading time: 10 minutes
Comprehension (based on a literary extract): 30 minutes
Applied reasoning: 10 minutes
Continuous writing: 20 minutes 

Reading time 
The test begins with 10 minutes reading time. Candidates are expected to read the extract and the comprehension questions during this time. They will not be permitted to start writing their answers to the comprehension questions before the 10 minutes has finished. 
The extract is taken from a literary work which is aimed at readers above a primary reading age. It is likely to be from classic fiction, although this is not limited to 19th century fiction and may well come from the 20th century. 
Candidates should refer back to the extract while they are answering the comprehension questions. 

Comprehension 
There are a series of questions based on the extract. The questions become progressively more demanding as they require increasingly greater interpretation of the extract and its language. Candidates can expect: 
Multi-choice comprehension questions based on ‘facts’ within the extract. These ‘facts’ might be based around how a character or scene is described, or specific information given within the extract.
Multi-choice comprehension questions based in interpretations of characters or events. Candidates may be required to decide on how a character feels or what the mood of a scene is, for example.
Candidates may be directed to specific words or phrases for them to analyse. For example, candidates may have to identify similes, metaphors or personification and explain the meaning behind it.
Candidates’ knowledge of higher-level vocabulary is tested through synonym multi0choice responses. Additionally, candidates locate specific words in the extract to match with a given list of synonyms.
Candidates may have to identify features of the extract which indicate its age, its purpose, its readership, its tone; through this, candidates demonstrate their understanding of nuance in language and style. 

Applied reasoning 
A short series of word puzzles will be provided to test candidates’ vocabulary and knowledge of homophones, homonyms, spelling and word classes, etc. 

Continuous writing 
Candidates will be asked to write two texts. Past papers indicate that one is based on creative techniques; the other is based on writing for a specified purpose. Above all, candidates are meant to demonstrate that they can manipulate language and write engaging, original texts. 

For the creative text, candidates may be asked to write about something which will enable them to demonstrate their descriptive skills. For example, they could be asked to write about: 
A character
A place
An event. 
For the writing for purpose text, candidates will be given a topic or an idea which they need to expand on. The following are considered as writing for purpose and are given as examples of what could be asked for, although this is not an exhaustive list: 
Persuade your reader to understand your opinion on a given theme
Explain why you like or dislike something
Provide reasons for and against a given idea
Provide a factual report on a familiar topic
Give someone advice or instruction. 
Examiners like to reward the following: 
Clear and relevant texts which respond to each of the two tasks appropriately
Candidates who judge when to include adjectives, speech, description, metaphors, similes, etc. for effect. The highest marks go to candidates who use such techniques with sensitivity to the task rather than overloading their texts with overly-elaborate language
Accurate grammar, paragraphing, punctuation and spelling. 
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