Question Type 20: Completing Words

Eleven-Plus Preparation Specialists

This is another type of question that favours those who like logic puzzles. Your vocabulary is not being tested at all, just your reasoning.

What does this question type involve?

In this type of question you will be given two sets of words, and asked to complete the third set in the same way as the first two. Each set of words features two words around a central word, which is in brackets. That central word has been made from the words around it. However, it’s up to you to figure out how the letters have been used. In other words, you need to find a pattern or rule and apply it. The simple example below should make this clear.

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Example questions

lance (clod) rode , emote (tent) anti
Least (?) pawn

Answer: Slaw
The pattern is W1L4, W1L1, W2L2, W2L3

A Simple Three Step for Type 20: Completing Word Puzzles

This question can seem difficult if you haven’t attempted it before. However, after practising and applying a simple process you should find it easier. We recommend that you take a straightforward approach, as follows:

Step 1: Write out each possibility in turn for word 1
Step 2: Write out each possibility in turn for word 2, and comprare.
Step 3: Use your pattern to find a solution

You must begin by writing out the possibilities for where each letter comes from. That means locating where each letter could come from in the words around it. It’s entirely possible – and likely – that some letters could come from either word around them. Therefore, you must write down both possibilities. You might end up with something like this:
W1L1 or W2L3, W2L2, W1L2, W2L4

Now, you should move on to the second set of words, and repeat the process. Write out where each letter must come from. 

Finally, you can compare the two sets of results. Looking at the two patterns, you ought to be able to remove one possibility, and leave a certain answer. Looking at the example just above, you might remove ‘W1L1’ as a possibility for the starting letter, as you find that only W2L3 works at the start of the middle word.

That leaves you with a pattern to apply to the set of words with a missing middle word.

Worked Example

lance (clod) rode , emote (tent) anti
Least (?) pawn

We’ll use the first example for our worked solution. Here, you should begin by writing the pattern from looking at the first set of letters. This gives you W1L4, W1L1, W2L2, W2L3. Now, given that there is no confusion over where any letter comes from (as the two words around the central word in brackets do not share any letters) you don’t need to move onto the second set of words. However, we will, just to illustrate. You would get W1L4, W1L1 or W1L5, W2L2, W2L3. Note that we can immediately see that it can’t be W1L5, as that would not work with the first word – instead of spelling clod we’d be spelling ceod.

Now, we must take this pattern and apply it to the final set of two words. We therefore get
W1L4 = S
W1L1 = L
W2L2 = A
W2L3 = W

This gives us the answer of SLAW.

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Top Tricks

The only trick you need to be aware of is sorting which letter is correct when you have two to choose from (i.e. when the central word features a letter which is shared by the two words around it). Hopefully this guide has made that clearer – you need to use all the different sets of words and compare them to check which pattern is correct.

Common Pitfalls

The most common pitfall here is not checking whether a letter is correctly chosen if both words feature the same letter – as above, this should be understood and avoided in practice. 


This is a relatively more difficult section and certainly one that can be intensely time consuming. Students should be aware of this and practise to be as efficient as possible. You shouldn’t have to skip questions here as all are entirely solvable using the information given and the process described here.
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