Question Type 5: Hidden Word

Eleven-Plus Preparation Specialists

These questions rely on your ability to spot a hidden word – which is much more a test of your vocabulary, and your ability to realise how words can look or sound different in different contexts, than it is of your logic and reasoning.

What does this question type involve?

You will be provided with a short sentence. Within this sentence will be a hidden word. The word is always formed by combining the ending letter, or letters, of one word, and the beginning letter, or letters, of another word. Typically it is a four letter word.

Online Course

Techniques, Tutorials & Past 11+ Questions With Example Answers

Private Tuition

One to One Support With An 11+ Specialist. Optimise Your Child’s Preparation; Maximise Their Success Rate.

Resources & Articles

Tips, Techniques & Insight from 11+ Specialists & Application Veterans

Example questions

Some of the men were tall, while others were of medium height.

Answer: Them (the men)

Whether or not one might believe in aliens, one must operate as if they exist.

Answer: Stop (must operate)

The dog was misbehaving rather, but nonetheless he walked it along the path.

Answer: Edit (walked it)

3 Step Approach to find the Hidden Word: Read, Look for combinations, Work through the Pairs

Finding a hidden word can be difficult, due to one’s natural instinct to disregard certain words or combinations of letters. You have to read the sentence carefully and do your best to disregard the words that you see – instead, focus on the beginnings and endings of the sentence as you read through. Remember, the goal is not to understand the sentence – it’s to find the hidden word!  As such, you should use the 3 step approach – which involves reading the sentence, then looking for common combinations, then working through each pair of words.

We’ve already begun reading the sentence carefully. Your goal here should be to read through and form and re-form the words, and give your brain time to dissect the sentence and what the missing word might be. If you don’t immediately find a word, then it’s time to move on to the next step.

You should quickly look for common combinations of letters, beginnings and endings. That means looking for:
– ed
– ing
– th
– er
– an
– al

Look for each of these combinations either at the beginning of a word, the end of a word, or even across two words.

If you still can’t find the hidden word, then you need to move on to step 3 – working through each pairing logically. This means you need to try the three ending letters of the first word and the first letter of the second word, then the two ending letters of the first word and the two beginning letters of the next word, and continue to do so as you work across the entire sentence. This will allow you to find the word, but could take some time. Remember to pronounce combinations of letters in different ways – e.g. ‘ear’ could be pronounced as it is in the word ‘ear’ but might also form part of the word ‘tear,’ which is pronounced differently. 

Worked Example

The tiger was quite a fantastic pet, although we were of course warned not to pat her.

So, first of all we read through. Form each word and try to see if you can spot a hidden word already. If not, then it’s time to move on to the next step. You should look for common combinations. You might notice an ‘al’ which is not part of a hidden word. If you are paying attention, you’ll notice a ‘th’ spread across two words – the final two. To save moving on to the final step of the process, let’s focus on that ‘th.’ Work through the combinations of letters that we can get from the final two words, and you’ll find that taking the word pat and adding the ‘h’ makes the word path.

11+ Services

Tailor and optimise your child’s 11+ Preparation with our 1-1 Eleven-Plus Preparation Specialists or prepare in your own time with our 11+ Online Course & Question Bank

Top Tricks

The best trick is to focus on common combinations of letters and make sure to discount words which are less likely – e.g. those that begin with a ‘w’ – which are unlikely to be part of a four letter word if not at the beginning or end of it.

Common Pitfalls

As stated above, a common error is mispronouncing a series of letters in context, and thus not spotting a word where those letters are pronounced differently.


In summary, you should read the sentence carefully and form words, then look through looking for common combinations, and finally work through the possibilities logically. 
Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top

Intensive BMAT Course

BMAT Timetable

The BMAT Course