Question Type 13: Making Words

Eleven-Plus Preparation Specialists

This type of question focuses on pattern recognition, and should therefore favour those more interested in logic and maths, rather than those who are avid readers.

What does this question type involve?

You will be presented with a word that has been formed from two other words, or a variation – perhaps two sets of words, for example. In each set, there will be two words surrounding one central word, and the central word has been created from the words around it. The letters in the surrounding words have been picked in a particular order – but likely not the order that they are written in. Take a look at the example below.

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Example questions

Used (deal) lamb

Code (?) Tilt

Answer: Edit

Here, we’ve taken letter 4 of word 1, then letter 3 of word 1, then letter 2 of word 2, then letter 1 of word 2. We could write this:
W1L4, W1L3, W2L2, W2L1

4 Step Approach to Making Words Questions

These questions should be approached with a simple process in mind. You can find the answer to each with patience and logic. We recommend that you take a four step approach, as follows:

Step 1: Follow the word across
Step 2: Note down each possibility
Step 3: Form possible words
Step 4: Choose

Your first step is to read across the word in the middle. You don’t need to know what the word means, or anything about it at all – other than the order of letters. Follow the order of letters and then look at the words on either side.

Next, you need to note down where each letter could come from. Remember that all the letters in the middle word have come from the words around it. So, if the first letter of the middle word is ‘d’ and there is a ‘d’ in both of the words around it, note down both these possibilities – e.g. W1L1, W2L4 (depending on where they are).

After you’ve noted down where each letter could come from, you need to check whether the word that you could form from the new words makes sense – remember if you have two options for where to draw a letter from, then only can be correct.

Finally, choose the correct letters and thus the correct word, and either write it down or select it depending on the format.

Worked Example

Sags (sing) rain
Rhea  (?) laid

Here, we begin by going across the word that we are given and seeing where each letter comes from. The S must come from the first word, so therefore we can write W1L1 for the first letter of the word that we are forming. The I comes next, which is the 3rd letter of the second word. Then the N is the 4th letter of the second word. The G is the final letter of the first word.

Luckily, there are no letters which could be drawn from either word here, as the words around the brackets share only an A, which is not used. Therefore we can immediately form the word in the brackets.

Apply the code W1L1, W2L3, W2L4, W1L3 to the letters around the brackets, and we get ride, which is the answer.

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Top Tricks

Always remember to double check where each letter comes from. In the example above we didn’t have any confusion over that, but imagine if the word in brackets had featured an A – we’d have had to check whether that letter A came from either sags (W1L2) or rain (W2L2). We’d have checked that by looking at each possibility for the word that we had to form. So, perhaps using W1L2 vs W2L2 in a different question could give us either ‘sink’ or ‘sonk’ – and we’d therefore realise that the combination that gives us ‘sink’ in brackets is correct.

Common Pitfalls

Remember to not jump to conclusions – make sure to follow the process step by step and try each possibility in turn.


You will be able to find the word in under a minute if you follow the four step method above, so long as you work efficiently. If you spot that there are no shared letters between the two words around the brackets, this should mean that the question can be done more quickly – if there are shared letters, expect to spend a bit more time on it.
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