What is the CSSE exam?
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 2022
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: https://csse.org.uk/
Dates for 2023 entry:
Registration opening: Tuesday 17th May 2022
Registration deadline: 1st July 2022
Exams take place: 17th September 2022
Results: 13th October 2022
Deadline for completing Local Authority Application form: 31st October 2022
- 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 at essex.gov.uk/admissions
OR you can download a paper version of the application form and send it by post.
CSSE exam format 2022
The CSSE exam is divided into 2 papers: maths and English.
The maths test lasts 60 minutes and is worth 60 marks. Each question is worth one mark. 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 lasts 70 minutes and is worth 60 marks. It is divided into three sections.
Section 1: Comprehension – roughly 40 minutes
You will be given a passage to read, which will be followed by some comprehension questions. There is space to write your answer on the paper.
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: Applied Reasoning – roughly 10 minutes
This section contains a small number of questions which test your verbal reasoning skills.
Topics can include: synonyms and antonyms, word puzzles and missing letter puzzles.
This section tests your vocabulary knowledge and your reasoning skills.
Section 3: Continuous writing – roughly 20 minutes
This section contains 2 continuous writing questions. These usually ask you to describe a situation, person or event. You must answer both questions.
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 2022 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: