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Verbal Reasoning revision challenge for 11+ and Pre-Test students
By Sarah Collins
27 Jul

Steve Jobs once said, ‘Creativity is just connecting things.’ Understanding how to make connections in new situations is a core element of the 11+ tests and this applies especially to Non-Verbal and Verbal Reasoning since they are not formally taught in schools. Therefore, learning the principles behind the main question styles can give your child a head start over other children sitting the test. Once you take out the element of learning how a question works by doing a little groundwork now, your child will be able to concentrate on the content and use their creative energies to solve even the most challenging problems.

In this final summer blog we look at how connections work in Verbal Reasoning questions and how you can refine your child’s abilities by helping them to make some creative connections of their own.


1. Just connect


Verbal Reasoning tends to be a less daunting than Non-Verbal Reasoning on first sight since the questions contain words, not pictures – as the name suggests!

Many of the questions look at your child’s ability to make connections between words. These connections can be between two words, a group of words or when words are put into a sentence.

In order to prepare for the tests, any games where your child is challenged to make word connections will help build familiarity with what is expected in the 11+.


Here are a couple of ideas:


Linking letters


This game looks at letter connections between word pairs.

Play this game as a family or in pairs. You may want to begin with a theme for the whole word chain, although that is not essential. Animals or foods are a good theme to try out first.


Think of the most obscure word you can come up with to make it interesting. Here is an example:


Person 1: wombat    Person 2: terrapin   Person 3: egret    Person 4: tarantula

 
Person 2 must come up with a word beginning with the last letter of the first word, then person 3 thinks of a word beginning with the last letter of the second word and so on with person 4 then back to person 1. See how long you can keep one chain going!


Add an adjective


This game looks at connections of word meaning.

Play this game in pairs. First get both people to come up with two or three word starts. These should be nouns that are easy to add adjectives to. The example below gives an idea of words that are suitable. Take it in turns to answer (the first round being positive, the next negative and so on) and the winner is the person to come up with the greatest number of (relevant) adjectives.









Encourage your child to come up with some fun mind maps, associating different ideas they find appealing. Here are some examples:
 

  • Plots for favourite stories showing how the characters and events link together
  • Favourite things to do at home, school and activities (linking emotions in smaller branches to build up language)
  • Food likes and dislikes, including emotions associated with them.


There are many mind-mapping apps available where photos and colour can be added to make the maps interesting. Creating attractive visuals builds creative skills as well as making the maps appealing. 


The Galore Park 11+ Verbal Reasoning Study and Revision Guide includes many more ideas for games and family activities. All revision is broken into two four-page sections ideal for 30 minute or one hour familiarisation sessions. The Galore Park 11+ and Pre-Tests Study Skills book gives further tips on developing learning skills and helps develop your child’s ability to think creatively.


2  First steps

 

In the same way that Non-Verbal Reasoning has links to Maths (see Blog 7), Verbal Reasoning has links to English (there are also some links to Maths though these are not covered in this blog). These connections are illustrated in the Galore Park Learning ladders below and are also featured throughout the Galore Park Verbal Reasoning Study and Revision Guide.

If you have already worked through the summer English blog (Blog 6) you will have already looked at the first two steps of the English ladder. The Verbal Reasoning questions in this blog relate directly to these English skills that your child has already revised

This final blog looks at the first two steps of the Verbal Reasoning ladder: Constructing words and Understanding word meaning 1 word level.

The skills in these two steps provide the foundation for more challenging questions (which require the skills at the top of the ladder). In these more advanced skills, your child is expected to work through a complex problem and connect a sequence of numbers, letters or ideas.







[graphic from page 6 of the Verbal Reasoning Revision Guide]




 

3. Constructing words

 

The most straightforward Verbal Reasoning questions look at children’s ability to spell and recognise words. This section illustrates two common question types in this category.

 

Move a single letter

 

More common in GL style tests, these questions test vocabulary and spelling. They are a good place to start as they begin to focus your child’s mind on looking closely at how words are spelt, which is relevant to many other questions and Cloze procedure tests.

These questions look quite straightforward and many of them are, though test writers use some common tricks to make them more difficult to work out. The examples below show how these questions can vary and, with practice, your child will learn to spot patterns in the more challenging questions.



This is an example of a straightforward question:

Make two new words by moving one letter from the first word and adding it to the second, without moving any other letters. Write the new words on the lines provided.

 

stray    pan                  tray      pans
 

 

The words used are simple to understand and spell. This level of question often just involves making the second word a plural by moving the ‘s’, as shown here. 

This question is slightly more challenging:

brain        weld            bran      wield
 

Questions become more difficult when there is an exchange of letters within the word, and this may also change the way the word sounds (as in the example ‘weld’ and ‘wield’ above). Imagining reading the words out loud can help to work out these problems.

This final question is harder still:

 

droops     curt             drops    court

 
The vocabulary in these questions is more challenging, and two letters can potentially be removed from the first word, but only one letter can be correctly inserted in the second word (the first word in this case would equally make sense with either an ‘o’ or ‘s’ removed).

Once your child has understood these basic facts, the following question should be straightforward.


Verbal Reasoning Question One…



Make two new words by moving one letter from the first word and adding it to the second, without moving any other letters. Write the new words on the lines provided.

1.                slate           cart             _______________          __________________
2.                slits             wits             _______________          __________________
3.                sweat         skins           _______________          __________________




The answer to this question will be available at the end of the Summer Challenge. If you think you have the correct answer, why not let us know on Twitter @galore_park, Instagram @galore_park or Facebook @galore1park.

Page 14 in the Galore Park 11+ Verbal Reasoning Study and Revision Guide explains more about Move a single letter questions, includes more examples and provides further practice exercises.



Join the words

 

These questions involve looking at your child’s knowledge of compound words. Cropping up in various tests, they are also good practice for Cloze tests which often have a few letters of a word missing.

If your child has a good grasp of prefixes and suffixes, they will find this knowledge can help with ‘Join the word’ questions. Spelling is also an important factor as there are often misleading answers with incorrect spellings.

This is an example of a straightforward question:

Make a new word spelt correctly by combining two words, one from each group. The word from the left always comes first and there is no change in letter order.

 

(cab, man, call)             (over, in, end)           cabin
 

The words used are straightforward, so the answer should be easy to spot.

This question is slightly more challenging:

 

(pass, let, band)           (tear, age, sing)        bandage
 

Questions become more difficult when there are some misleading spellings; in this example ‘passing’ looks like the answer, though looking carefully, there are too many ‘s’s for this to work. The word ‘letter’ is another possibility although the spelling is not correct. In some questions two words may be associated, but are not compound words, such as ‘pass’ and ‘book’.


This final question is harder still:

 

(fern, grim, bat)             (tone, ace, ice)         grimace

 

The vocabulary in these questions is more challenging and the spelling can be particularly misleading. Look at the position of ‘bat’ in this question: it is easy to consider ‘battone’ as the correct answer, although the spelling is incorrect with the ‘e’ at the end. Similarly, ‘fern’ could easily be picked with either ‘ace’ or ‘ice’ in a misspelling of furnace. Finally, ‘grimace’ can also be misspelt if ‘ice’ is selected!


Revising spelling rules using the Galore Park English Revision Guide will provide your child with a very good basis for improving their ability to answer this style of question.

Once your child has understood these basic facts, the following question should be straightforward.




Verbal Reasoning Question Two…


Make a new word spelt correctly by combining two words, one from each group. The word from the left always comes first and there is no change in letter order.

1.    (pat, car, low)        (pet, sit, high)           __________________
2.    (fan, rugby, pan)    (club, try, fair)           __________________
3.    (para, con, red)      (done, dress, fin)      __________________


The answer to this question will be available at the end of the Summer Challenge. If you think you have the correct answer, why not let us know on Twitter @galore_park, Instagram @galore_park or Facebook @galore1park.

Page 18 in the Galore Park 11+ Verbal Reasoning Study and Revision Guide explains more about Join the words questions, includes more examples and provides further practice exercises.


 

4. Understanding word meaning
 

The questions grouped into the second step of the Galore Park Learning ladder are those that look at word meaning. Again, a range of vocabulary and an ability to spell are extremely useful in order to answer these questions quickly and accurately.

 

Synonyms and antonyms
 

You are unlikely to find a Verbal Reasoning test without a set of questions on synonyms or antonyms. They can be worded in a number of ways though the exercises are essentially the same: find a word either similar or opposite in meaning to the word given.

Depending on the test you are taking, your child may need a range of different skills. CEM-style tests typically use challenging vocabulary that can only really be developed through practice in games, questions and (more appropriately) reading a variety of books and texts for pleasure.

GL and ISEB Pre-Test would more typically be looking at your child’s knowledge of word classes and homonyms (which are words with more than one meaning). For example, ‘play’ when used as a verb means to enjoy a recreational pursuit or to act; as a noun it means something put on at a theatre (there are a number of other uses of the word too).


This is an example of a straightforward question:

Find two words, one from each set, that are similar in meaning.

 

(slip, jump, lead)                       (skip, slide, step)                      slip         slide

 
The words used are straightforward, so the answer should be easy to spot.


This question is slightly more challenging:


(cover, join, pull)                       (break, climb, connect)            join         connect


Questions become more difficult as there are opposites introduced in questions where children are asked to find similar words (and vice versa). Vocabulary is another way in which these questions get harder.


This final question is harder still:

 

(distraught, fleet, lethargic)      (frigate, distinguish, nimble)     fleet        nimble

 
Using complex vocabulary, double-meanings and emotions, some questions are very challenging to answer. In this instance, ‘fleet’ can be used as a noun such as ‘a fleet of ships’, or an adjective meaning ‘quick’. The other options have been added to distract from the correct answer.

When answering these questions, it can help to note down whether the two words chosen are from the same word class (verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs) – if they are not, then your answer will be wrong!


Once your child has understood these basic facts, the following question should be straightforward.

 

 

Verbal Reasoning Question Three…


Find two words, one from each set, that are opposite in meaning.


1.    (drain, catch, swim)               (rain, fill, race)                        ________   ________
2.    (fascinate, accelerate, stop)   (slow, charm, accept)               ________   ________
3.    (feint, incite, demean)            (provoke, elevate, revive)       ________   ________



The answer to this question will be available at the end of the Summer Challenge. If you think you have the correct answer, why not let us know on Twitter @galore_park, Instagram @galore_park or Facebook @galore1park.

Page 26 in the Galore Park 11+ Verbal Reasoning Study and Revision Guide explains more about Synonyms and antonyms questions, includes more examples and provides further practice exercises.
 


Word analogies
 

These questions are working towards the next step on the ladder with problems that look at how words work in sentences. Word analogies test your child’s ability to make connections between two sets of words.

11+ tests change all the time, so it is not possible to predict which questions will occur in which papers. However, you can be certain that analogies will be tested in some form and, because Cloze tests often give a wide range of words to choose from, these analogy questions give children practice in spotting the correct links.

This is an example of a straightforward question:

Choose one word in each set of brackets to compete the sentence in the most sensible way.

 

Cap is to (lid, hat, head) as sock is to (shoe, foot, wool).

 
The link is straightforward since a cap is put on a head and a sock is put on a foot.


This question is slightly more challenging:

 

Famous is to (sport, wealth, star) as intellectual is to (university, professor, teach).


 
The words do not relate as clearly, though the only common link is that a star is famous and a professor is intellectual. Sometimes, turning the sentence around like this can help. Beware also of antonyms in this type of question!


This final question is harder still:

 

Steal is to (blade, return, lift) as counter is to (oppose, bench, calculate).

 
Double-meanings are very common in the most challenging questions. You will see with the example above that the answer is a synonym (lifting something is slang for stealing; to oppose something is the same as to counter or go against something). There are frequently distractors in these questions as well: ‘steal’ would link to ‘blade’ if spelt differently and so ‘counter’ and ‘bench’ would link too.

Once your child has understood these basic facts, the following question should be straightforward.


Verbal Reasoning Question Four…

 


Choose one word in each set of brackets to compete the sentence in the most sensible way.

1.    Tile is to (clay, roof, lay) as scale is to (weigh, ladder, fish).
2.    Clown is to (nose, serious, joker) as disturb is to (dig, comfort, destroy).
3.    Screen is to (interface, project, plasma) as surf is to (riptide, internet, explore).



The answer to this question will be available at the end of the Summer Challenge. If you think you have the correct answer, why not let us know on Twitter @galore_park, Instagram @galore_park or Facebook @galore1park.


Page 30 in the Galore Park 11+ Verbal Reasoning Study and Revision Guide explains more about Word analogies questions, includes more examples and provides further practice exercises.


 

5. Step up to the revision challenge

 
If you have worked through all four of our summer blogs with your child, then they are most likely eager to use the skills they have learned to have a go at some of the more complex 11+ style questions.

Hopefully they have answered all the questions we have set so now is the time to email us on marketing@galorepark.co.uk and share your answers with us! If your child has ALL the answers correct, you could be in with a chance of winning £100 worth of shopping vouchers. 

Now would be a good time to introduce your child to a mock 11+ paper from the Galore Park range. The first entry-level tests are less challenging than the rest and are designed for this stage in your child’s revision. The tests do not need to be timed and can help to build confidence in the kind of questions they can expect to see. All answers are fully explained so that you can then go to the Revision Guides and find out where your child may need a little more help. The Galore Park 11+ Verbal Reasoning Study and Revision Guide provides tests as the end of each section as well as a final test at the end of the book to find out whether your child has acquired all the necessary skills to succeed in their Vearbal Reasoning 11+ papers.



We hope that you and your child have enjoyed the summer blogs and they have now well and truly kick-started their revision… ready to motor ahead!
 

 

In the meantime, if you need a little Verbal Reasoning help, take a look at our Verbal Reasoning Revision Guide for 11+ and pre-tests. Covering all the key content for pre-tests and 11+ independent school entrance exams, this vital revision guide will ensure confidence in every topic with end-of-chapter tests and a comprehensive progress record.
Buy now for only £12.99

We also sell an 11+ Verbal Reasoning Revision Pack which will take your child step-by-step through their Verbal Reasoning revision - consolidating knowledge, teaching children how to apply this knowledge in questions, and finally building confidence and exam technique.

 
                    
                                  

 

 





 


 


 



 




 

 

Tags: 11+, 11, 11 plus, 11plus, challenge, exam, Exam Preparation, Exam tips, Galore Park, GL, practice, pre-test, pre-tests, reasoning, revision, Revision Guide, tips, verbal, Verbal Reasoning

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