Question Type 19: Word Number Codes

Eleven-Plus Preparation Specialists

This question type features both letters and numbers, but it is much more a test of reasoning than anything else. There is no vocabulary involved, as you don’t have to understand any of the words – only represent them using numbers.

What does this question type involve?

You will be given four words, and a code that represents each code. However, you will not be told which word is represented by which code, making the process of understanding the code much more complex. You will then be asked to either codify a word, or decode a series of numbers. Look at the simple example below to get a better idea.

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Example questions

Bait, tail, rain, leer

8265, 7998, 3267, 1263

What does 1639 mean?
Answer: Bite
1 = b
2 = a
3 = t
4 = r
5 = n
6 = i
7 = l
8 = r
9 = e

3 Steps for Solving Word Number Codes

There are a few key steps that you need to follow to solve these codes. You have to remember that the codes are jumbled, so you need to spot patterns between them. To do this, we recommend the following three steps:

Step 1: Repetition
Step 2: Double Letters
Step 3: Beginnings and Ends

Both Step 2 and Step 3 rely on Step 1, as both are looking for instances of repetition.

You must begin by looking for repetition between words. Try to see if the same number crops up multiple times. There will be various instances of repetition, and your goal is to understand which repeated number is which letter. To do this, you should see if you can spot any double letters.

Finding a double letter sequence in a word will make the task much easier. That’s because it will enable you to immediately spot a particular word. In the example above, you should be able to see that the only word with a double letter is leer, and the only code with a double number is 7998. That means that 7 has to be L, 9 has to be E, and 8 has to be R. Already we’re now much more able to solve the rest of the code.

The next step is looking at the beginnings and endings of words. This is a good next step because it’s much faster than trying to find letters within words. If you notice that one word ends with the same letter that another begins with, then try to see whether there’s a number that features both at the beginning and end of a code. Using the above example, that means bait and tail, and the codes 1263 and 3267. 

Worked Example

Let’s look at another example. 

walk, claw, note, tone

8765, 9241, 1423, 6785

What does 1568 mean?

Here, we begin by looking for repetition. So, we would immediately notice that 8765 and 6785 are very similar to one another. We might, if we’re particularly good at spotting patterns, immediately realise that these two series of numbers must be the codes for tone and note, and be able to work from there. If not, then we’d look for double letters. However, there aren’t any here, which means moving on to the next step. Here, we need to find the same letter beginning and ending words. We’re lucky, as we find that E finishes 2 words, and that two codes end in 5. That means that 5 must be E and that 6785 must be ‘tone’. We also see that 1 begins a code and ends a code – meaning that it must be W for walk and the last W in claw as well. At this point, we can begin plugging in the numbers. Note them down, and you should find the following series:
1 = W
2 = L
3 = K
4 = A
5 = E
6 = N
7 = O
8 = T
9 = C

This gives us an answer of: ‘went’

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Top Tricks

As stated, repetition is your friend here. Look for patterns amongst the words and practise doing so – you’ll see that you can answer these questions much more quickly over time. 

Common Pitfalls

The most common mistake here is not knowing where to begin. So long as you understand how to start these questions, you’ll be able to get through them.


In summary, follow the logical process above and practise before the exam to ensure that you work through at a good rate. These questions can be time-consuming, so be prepared.
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