Why Using 11 Plus Writing Examples May Not Be Effective: A Better Approach To Improving Your Child’s Writing

Little Girl Cheating at Test

Preparing for the 11 Plus exams can be intimidating for both students and parents. With several approaches and strategies available to pass the test, it can be challenging to determine where to start. However, one technique parents have used to prepare kids for the writing aspect is to show them 11 Plus writing examples, but it can do more harm than good.

Using Writing Examples Can Limit Your Child’s Creativity

While showing examples from other students may seem like a good idea, many potential drawbacks must be considered. One of the main concerns when using writing examples is the quality of the examples provided, which may not be up to par with what is expected in the actual exam. A study by Bae and Park (2018) published in the Journal of Writing Research found that providing too many model compositions can limit creativity and discourage students from exploring their unique style, causing them to struggle to find their footing when it’s time to write their pieces.

Additionally, using writing examples from other students can lead to a false sense of security, and students may not be adequately prepared for what they will face on exam day. Instead of understanding what is required of them and how they can translate their strengths and unique perspective into their writing, students might rely on the examples provided, causing them to be unprepared and ultimately underperform on the day of the exam.

Stressed and confused student during exam at school

Writing Examples Do Not Meet Each Child’s Learning Needs

Even when the quality of the examples is high, using writing examples may not necessarily be the most effective way to teach writing skills. A study by Zohrabi (2014) published in the Journal of English for Academic Purposes found that providing model texts may not always suit all individual learning needs and can lead to a lack of originality in their writing, rendering their writing less effective and less engaging.

In our English and creative writing lessons and on our renowned Creative Writing Crash Course, we take a different approach, which we believe is more effective, engaging, and rewarding for students. Instead of relying solely on writing examples, we provide students with personalised feedback and direct support on their writing, ensuring they understand what is required of them and how they can demonstrate their strengths and creativity on exam day. We give feedback on their own work and provide specific directions on how to maximize their creative voice and what they need to improve on their writing. The results speak volumes – we have seen students making a 10-40% increase in their marks by the second homework assignment.

Check out the video below to see how we mark students' work and why it is more beneficial for them than memorising writing prompts. 

Through this approach, we can tailor our instruction to each student’s unique needs and learning styles, helping them achieve their full potential. We encourage our students to take risks and explore their unique writing styles, building their confidence and mastery over the writing process, and providing them with the skills they need to succeed in the 11 Plus exam and all aspects of their writing and academic journey.

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