Question Type 2: Two Odd Words

Eleven-Plus Preparation Specialists

In this type of question, you’ll need to rely heavily on your vocabulary. Without it, you won’t be able to put your logic to use. Let’s take a look at Type 2.

What does this question type involve?

Here, you’ll be provided with five words. Within the group of five, three of the words go together, and two do not. You have to find the two words that do not fit with the others – i.e. it’s your job to find the ‘odd words out.’ These questions can vary widely in difficulty, as the vocabulary used can be more or less difficult. One question that stands out from official past papers, for example, relied on students knowing that the words for a group of lions, hyenas, and geese were pride, pack and gaggle.

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Example questions

Oak, rose, willow, dandelion, beech

Answer: Rose, dandelion

Here, you need to note that there are two flowers, versus three trees. Therefore, the flowers are the odd ones out.

Football, score, tackle, shoot, rugby

Answer: Football, rugby

Here, all the words are related to the two sports. We might score a goal, or a try, and we might tackle someone or shoot for a goal. However, three are verbs involved in the games, and two words are the sports themselves. Therefore, the two odd words out are football and rugby.

The R-TAF Approach

The simplest way to approach these questions is to read the entire series, then consider type, then associations, then finally check the form of the words. Let’s look at that in some more detail.

The first thing to do is read all the words. Take your time to process each one in turn, and ensure that you’re clear on its meaning and you’ve considered whether it could have dual meanings (e.g. bear could mean the animal or to carry something).

Next, you need to consider what type of thing each word is. This is the most obvious way to solve these kinds of puzzles. Are some of the words types of house, while the others are items of furniture? Are some of the words types of emotion, while the others are exclamations that one might make if feeling a particular way? Remember that there is often some effort made to keep the words in a similar realm, to make the question a bit trickier.

Next, consider further associations. If you’re struggling, you might need to find a new way to link the words together to find the three.

Lastly, look at the form of the words. This means you need to check whether they’re nouns, or verbs, or adjectives, or something else. As we saw in the example above, this could be a simple way to make two words stand out, but one that you might not at first notice – as the words could still firmly be within a particular category in your head when you first read them.

Worked Example

Duvet, bed, sofa, pillow, armchair

So, our first step is to read through. We immediately notice that all are household items, and that they may well remind us of sleeping, or of being in bed. Let’s look at the type of thing each word is first. We find that there are three pieces of furniture, and two things that one would put on a bed.

Bow, hunter, draw, boor, shoot

If we repeat the process for this one, we find that all the words seem to relate to hunting. We therefore need to push on through the process. Associations between the words similarly leave us with a picture of hunting – none of the words seem to be a category that the others might fit into for example – ‘hunting’ isn’t there. As such, it’s time to consider the form of the words. Here, we find that shoot and draw are both verbs. Therefore, that means they are the odd ones out. 

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Top Tricks

Remember that you can pick up marks using logic even if your vocabulary fails you – if there’s one word you don’t understand, focus on the others instead, and then try to work on the form of the words and see if you can understand whether the word is a verb or noun, or something else.

Common Pitfalls

Do not jump to conclusions. Make sure to read through each word and give due consideration to the process each time.


In summary, these questions can be approached efficiently and shouldn’t pose a challenge if you follow the process. Remember to consider that some words might describe groups of other words.
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