CSSE Essex 11+ Exam: English Practice Questions

The CSSE (or Consortium of Selective Schools in Essex) requires you to take two tests, one English and one Maths, for your 11+ exam.

Within this blog we will look at what the English test requires of you and additionally provide some example exam questions to enable a clearer understanding of the types of questions you will be asked on the day. The CSSE website also provides some sample exam papers.

CSSE Essex 11 Plus English Practice 1

The English test is divided into three main sections: comprehension, applied reasoning and continuous writing. It is up to you how long you spend on each section, however there are advisory time frames given which are there to help you make the most of your time.

The amount of marks that can be awarded for each question will be given in the margins of the test paper. This should also be an indicator for how long you should be spending on each question.

CSSE Essex 11+ English Exam: Section 1: Comprehension

This section requires you to read a passage or an extract of text and subsequently answer a range of questions based upon what you have just read. For the real exam it is recommended that you spend approximately ten minutes reading the extract given and a further thirty minutes answering the related questions. The lines of the text will be numbered in order for you to be able to refer back to them when giving your answers.

The types of questions you will be asked in the comprehension section are designed to test your understanding of the text and the words and themes within it. They will be a combination of both multiple choice and longer, more descriptive questions.

CSSE Essex 11+ English Exam: Section 1: Comprehension: Example Questions

Read the short passage of text below and have a look at the questions that follow:

Mimi sighed audibly as she trudged her way through the grassy, marshy fields. The sky was about as drab and uninspiring as the playlist her father had insisted on listening to throughout the seemingly never ending journey to the event. Why must her family insist on dragging her to these tragically monotonous things. They don’t ever even give her a choice, branding her as ‘anti-social’ if she doesn’t attend every single one.

I’m hardly social when I’m here anyway, she thought, I just plug my headphones in and try desperately to imagine I’m somewhere at least vaguely more compelling with incredibly more enthralling company. Or even on my own for that matter.

She failed to see the point of these strangely optimistic and elated people she saw every time she came to these things; all oddly beaming at each other as they stood there trying to coax a sad, lonely human being into purchasing some decrepit piece of long discarded furniture for the pitiful sum of ninety nine pence.

“One day you’ll understand Mimi”, her mother would say.

“One day you’ll stop being a miserable teenager and realise all the incredible treasures just waiting to be uncovered and appreciate all the wonderful, joyful people to chat to”.

Mimi disagreed. She honestly felt with some contention that no matter how old and dull she became, she would never find the thought of dragging herself through miles of stalls of musty clothes and rusty trinkets thrilling. Did people seriously think it was realistic to find anything of any discernible value at these kind of things?
Her parents would try and excite her by recalling stories of folk who purchased some inconspicuous knick-knack only to find out later on in life that it was worth millions and would instantaneously change their life forever. They would march about the fields, her father whistling to himself joyfully and her mother on an overly optimistic and misguided mission to discover some unbelievable hidden gem.

Please note that extracts of text for the real exam will be somewhat longer and followed by more questions; however this gives you an idea of the style and types of questions you will come across. Bear in mind that you are likely to see a few words you might not be entirely familiar with, but try and interpret the text to the best of your ability.

  1. (a) Find an example of a SIMILIE in the text.
  2. (b) Describe what this simile means.

  3. List four words from the extract that show Mimi’s negative response towards her surroundings.
  4. Describe two ways in which Mimi’s parents speak positively about the fair.
  5. Find one word in the last paragraph that implies that Mimi does not believe that her mother will find anything valuable at the fair.

CSSE Essex 11+ English Exam: Section 2: Applied Reasoning: Example Questions

It is recommended that you spend ten minutes on this part of the test in the real exam. You will be asked a few different types of ‘verbal reasoning’ type questions, similar to those in the section below.

  1. Give one letter which completes the end of the first word, and begins the start of the second word. You must use the same letter for both words, for example:

you ( r ) ate  pea ( r ) ain – thus forming the words your, rate, pear and rain.

  • tim ( ? ) ase   sur ( ? ) arl
  • car ( ? ) ove   lar  ( ? ) oor
  • sho ( ? ) ord   flo  ( ? ) alk
  • cla ( ? ) ain    fli    ( ? ) our


  1. Use the letters within the word mother to make four other new four letter words. You can use the letters in any order you wish.

For example, mote uses the four of the letters within the word mother to form a new word. List four more below:

  1. …………………………
  2. …………………………
  3. …………………………
  4. …………………………

  1. Using the same process as in question one, find the one letter which completes the end of the first word and begins the start of the second:

  • pivo ( ? ) hese
  • year ( ? ) ought
  • shre ( ? ) raft

CSSE Essex 11+ English Exam: Section 3: Continuous Writing: Example Questions

You will be given a separate booklet for this part of the test. It is recommended that you spend around 20 minutes completing this section in the real exam. You will be given a couple of tasks and asked to write a number of sentences on a subject or topic in your own words. See the example questions below for an idea of the style of the questions that will be asked in this section.

  1. Write a description of a woodland scene. Try to make it as imaginative as possible.
  1. Explain, in your own words, how you would clean your room. Give clear instructions and include as much detail as possible.

For this section of the test the examiners will be looking at the clarity and quality of your writing, your spelling and punctuation and the creativity of your ideas. For this reason, it makes sense to make sure you quickly check through what you have written afterwards to make sure there are no errors or inaccuracies.

CSSE Essex 11+ English Exam: Answers to Example Questions

Section 1: Comprehension

Q1:

  • “The sky was about as drab and uninspiring as the playlist”.
  • The weather was bad, grey, overcast etc., similar to the way in which her fathers’ music choices were dull. (Or similar response).

Q2:

  • drab;
  • uninspiring;
  • monotonous;
  • decrepit;
  • pitiful;
  • musty; rusty.

Q3:

  • They believe there are valuable items to be found and speak of people who have made a lot of money from selling on things they have bought at these types of events.
  • Her mother talks of the lovely people there are to talk to at the fair.
  • Q4:

    • misguided;
    • accept optimistic.

    • Section 2: Applied Reasoning

      Q1:

      • ( e ) – forming the words time, ease, sure and earl.
      • ( d ) – forming the words card, love, lard and door.
      • ( w ) – forming the words show, word, flow and walk.
      • ( p ) – forming the words clap, pain, flip and pour.


      Q2: