Question Type 14: Corresponding Letters

Eleven-Plus Preparation Specialists

This question type relies heavily on logic and reasoning. Your knowledge of the English language is not being tested. Indeed, you are provided with a copy of the alphabet, so you really don’t need to rely on memory or knowledge to attempt this question type.

What does this question type involve?

Here, you will be asked to find two letters that correspond to another pair, using an example to guide you. There will be a pattern that links the two groups of letters together. In other words, the first pair has been transformed in some way to become the second pair. You need to work to understand that transformation, so that you can apply it to another letter pair.

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Example questions

AA is to DC as BB is to ?

Answer: ED
In this simple example, we move the first letter forward 3 and the second letter forward 2.

LN is to KO as IQ is to

Answer: HR
In this more complex example, we’ve followed a mirror, in which the letters are mirrored around the letter M, and move apart one further to form the second pair of letters each time.

3 Step Approach to Corresponding Letters Questions

Your approach to these ought to be the same as to Type 9 questions, as the goal of finding a pattern is very similar. There are common patterns that are used, and recognising these will help you to pick up marks. The approach is a three step one, in which you should check the following factors:

Step 1: Forward or Backward
Step 2: Distance
Step 3: Variations

Your first step is checking whether the letters are moving forward (+) or backwards (-). Remember that the letters can move through from Z to A or back from A to Z. Look at both letters and make a decision. Remember that the letters can move independently. Remember that letters can, and will, move independently of each other within a pair.

You need to calculate the distance that each letter is moving backwards or forwards each time. This is simpler than with Type 9 Questions – you don’t need to find a whole sequence. Instead, you might find, for example, that letter 1 has moved forward 2 and letter 2 has moved back 3.

Unlike with Type 9, there could be more variation introduced, which you will look for in step 3. Typically, this variation comes through the use of a mirror. A mirror could be used around any point in the alphabet (e.g CA and DZ are both mirrored around the letter B) but you will often find the midpoint of the alphabet used as a starting point (i.e. around M).

Worked Example

CD is to ZE as FF is to ?

We begin by checking whether the letters are moving backwards or forward. Don’t be thrown by the fact that the C has moved to a Z – it is much more likely that it has moved backwards four letters (-4) than moved forward 22 letters. As such, you should note that the first letter moves back, and the second letter moves forward. Now, note the distance each letter moves. This is -4 (backwards) for letter 1, and +1 (forwards) for letter 2.

We can therefore apply this same code to the question pair. FF → BG using the code, which is our answer.

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Top Tricks

Always remember to check whether the code is a mirror if you can’t find it quickly through the first two steps. There aren’t too many possible complexities as there’s only one pair being transformed, rather than an entire sequence of letters. Therefore keep it simple and try to work quickly.

Common Pitfalls

As mentioned above, failing to realise that the letters move back or forward through the beginning or end of the alphabet can lead to students becoming confused. This is an easy pitfall to avoid.


In summary, this question type may look confusing at first, but should become straightforward after some practice with a logical approach like that outlined above. Try to work through quickly and efficiently, as these are amongst the easier ‘code’ type questions.
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