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11+ CSSE (Essex) Exam Information 2023

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

What is the CSSE exam?

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The CSSE 11+ Test is the 11+ exam used by the Consortium of Selective Schools in Essex.

These are 10 schools:

  • King Edward VI – Grammar School
  • Colchester County High School – for Girls
  • Colchester Royal – Grammar School
  • Southend High School – for Girls
  • Southend High School – for Boys
  • Westcliff High School  – for Girls
  • Westcliff High School – for Boys
  • St. Bernards High School – for Girls
  • St. Thomas More – High School
  • Shoeburyness – High School


It is a standardised exam which covers Maths, English, Verbal Reasoning (which they call Applied Reasoning), and continuous writing (i.e. creative writing). The skills and topics which you need to practice are similar to other 11+ exams, but the CSSE exam has a unique style and structure which you should familiarise yourself with if you plan on applying to one of these schools.

These schools are highly competitive. You will not only need to pass the CSSE exam, but score very highly in it, if you want to get into the school of your choice.

Dates and application information 2023

The CSSE exam usually falls in mid-September. Registration opens earlier in the year, so make sure you check the dates and deadlines on the CSSE website.

Dates for 2024 entry:

Registration opening: Tuesday 16th May 2023
Registration deadline: late June/early July 2023
Exam date: Saturday 23rd September 2023
Results: mid-October 2023
Deadline for completing Local Authority Application form: 31st October 2023

Application Process

  • Complete an application form on the CSSE website
  • Apply to Essex County Council for your preferred secondary schools with the Essex Common Application Form (CAF)
    This can be submitted online OR you can download a paper version of the application form and send it by post.

Useful links

CSSE guide for 2023 entry.

Currently, there is not an up-to-date CSSE guide for 2024 entry. 

CSSE exam format 2023

The CSSE exam is divided into 2 papers: maths and English.


The maths test lasts 60 minutes.

There is space to do workings out on the paper and clearly marked boxes where you should write your answers.

The test covers key aspects of the KS2 maths National Curriculum.

A rough guide to topics covered:

  • Arithmetic – operations, number properties, decimals, BIDMAS
  • Algebra, simple linear equations
  • Fractions and Percentages
  • Measurements – unit conversions, area and volume
  • Graphs – Venn diagrams, line graphs, pie charts, pictograms
  • Statistics – mean, median, mode, range
  • Geometry – 2D shapes, angles, coordinates
  • Word questions


The English exam is divided into two sections and will have a time limit of 60 minutes.

Section 1: Comprehension – roughly 40 minutes

Candidates will be given a passage to read (this could be fiction, non-fiction or poetry), which will be followed by some comprehension questions.

The questions are a mixture of multiple choice and written answer questions.

These questions will test your understanding of the passage, ability to make inferences, knowledge of literary devices and vocabulary knowledge, as well as spelling, punctuation and grammar.


Section 2: Continuous writing/creative writing – roughly 20 minutes

The second section will be a writing task based on a prompt. These usually ask you to describe a situation, person or event.

This section tests your accuracy, spelling, punctuation, grammar, creativity and originality.

CSSE top tips

  • Make sure you are familiar and confident with the KS2 maths syllabus, as this is what the questions will be based on
  • Read the questions carefully! In the comprehension section, you will often be asked to write a sentence explaining or describing something in your own words. For these questions it is essential that you:
    a) do not simply lift words from the text
    b) pay attention to your spelling, punctuation and grammar, as marks are awarded for these
  • In the comprehension section, look at the marks available for each question. Make sure you don’t write 5 sentences for a question only worth one or two marks. If the question asks you to write 1 sentence, just write 1 sentence!
  • Pay attention to the time! As with any exam, time management is key
    -For the English test, try to follow the time guidelines on the front of the booklet as much as possible
    -For the maths test, remember that each question is only worth one mark. Keep an eye on the clock and do not spend too much time on one question if you are finding it tricky. You can always come back to it at the end if you have time.

How to prepare for the 2023 CSSE exam

The most useful way to prepare is to do practice and past papers to familiarise yourself with the style of exam.

You can access some free, official past papers from our page here or from the official CSSE website.

For more invaluable practice, have a look at the expert CSSE practice papers available in our shop. We include answers for all of our papers and step-by-step explanations for the Maths questions.

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