Grammar Schools


Expert advice on the admissions process for some of the UK's top grammar schools.

Essex Grammar Schools CSSE Entrance Exams


Essex Grammar Schools students take an 11 plus exam for entrance. They are divided into those which are members of the Consortium of Selective Schools in Essex (the CSSE) and those which go their own way.

Chelmsford County High School for Girls and The King John School set their own test.

The CSSE schools set a standard selection exam which determines Year 7 entry. The same exam is used by all the schools in the Essex consortium. The CSEE Schools are:

Purpose of the Essex Grammar Schools (CSSE) Entrance Exam

The exam is designed to test:

  • curiosity, enjoyment of learning and problem solving
  • perseverance and completion of challenging tasks
  • understanding of all concepts taught at primary school
  • enjoyment of a wide range of literature and/or non-fiction text
  • creativity in sustained writing
  • ability to make connections between various areas of knowledge
  • good memory
  • imagination and original ideas
  • ability to work at pace and assimilate information quickly
  • appreciation of numerical conventions
  • ability to apply mathematical concepts
  • be familiar with reading and responding to texts with a reading age greater than 11
  • understand the rudiments of spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Essex Grammar Schools (CSSE) Entrance Exam Pass marks

There are two papers, English and Maths. The intent is that each has an equal weighting and that no student is disadvantaged because of their age in the school years. Two standardisations are applied to students’ raw score to achieve this.

The first is designed to make sure that the two tests have the same weighting even though students might have found one test on average easier than the other test. In general, this means that the English test tends to be given greater weight in the final result than would have been the case from the raw scores.

The test scores are further age-standardised to ensure that older pupils do not have an unfair advantage. Typically, there is a greater age adjustment made for English results than for Maths results.

There are different pass marks by school. Those pass marks vary each year but there is a rough guide.

  • 55-60% for the Southend grammar schools’ priority area and other Southend schools
  • 65% for out of area places at most of the Southend grammar schools
  • 65-70% for Colchester County High School
  • 70% for CRGS and for KEGS priority area
  • 75% for KEGS out of priority area

Essex Grammar Schools (CSSE) Entrance Exam English Exam

The English paper tests comprehension, grammar and vocabulary, as well as creative writing, verbal reasoning and literacy.

The Essex consortium have a guide for the long form continuous writing question

  • Ideas: clear and original writing – may include abstract forms, philosophical ideas, metaphors securely focussed on task (in content and style): ideas explored in depth
  • Vocabulary: ambitious vocabulary used appropriately to enhance communication spelling accurate for all basic vocabulary
  • Grammar: secure tenses throughout
  • Structure: securely structured in response to task with a clear sense of direction and originality throughout connectives used appropriately paragraphs used accurately varied and effective sentence structure
  • Punctuation: punctuation varied and used creatively

Examples of past topics for the Essex Grammar School test include –

  • In six or seven sentences, write about a time, real or imaginary, when you were looking forward to a special day out, but in the end somebody fell ill and it did not happen
  • In six or seven sentences, describe the person or animal you think of as your best friend.
  • Write five or six sentences describing your classroom to your friend who has never seen it
  • Write down in five or six sentences, instructions for a younger brother, sister or friend on how to clean their teeth.

We also have the following past and familiarisation papers available for you to download in pdf format:

Essex Grammar Schools (CSSE) Entrance Exam Maths Exam

The Maths paper test students on topics contained within the KS2 National Curriculum.

We also have the following past maths papers here:

Preparing for the Essex Grammar School Test

King Edward VI Grammar School entrance

We have expert tutors with extensive experience in preparation. As with other school entrance tests we recommend a twelve month journey in which the child builds and consolidates learning. Typically the journey starts with an 11 Plus assessment. This can be especially useful for helping decide whether your child is performing at the level required for the different Essex schools, given the different pass marks needed. Contact our dedicated school entrance co-ordinator who can advise further.


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