Question Type 6: The Missing Word

Eleven-Plus Preparation Specialists

This question type relies largely on your vocabulary, as well as your ability to think logically and implement your vocabulary.

What does this question type involve?

In this type of question you will be given a word that has had three consecutive letters removed. The letters that have been removed correctly spell another word, without changing the order of the letters. You have to find the missing 3 letter word. You will typically find that the longer word is provided as part of a sentence, so you have some context to work from. Without that, these questions are much more difficult.

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Example questions

There were plenty of SPS for us to park in.

Answer: ACE

The full word is spaces.

I was full of GITUDE for his actions; his quick thinking had saved the day.

Answer: RAT

The full word is gratitude.

A Simple 3 Step Approach to Solving Missing Word Problems

Missing word problems can be frustrating as one will often find that you either immediately spot the missing word, or it takes some time to find it! The key is to work systematically and not become disenfranchised. The approach that we would recommend you take is:

Step 1: Read the sentence and understand the context
Step 2: Brainstorm possible words and try them
Step 3: If needed, return to the question after attempting the next

You might notice that this approach is rather simpler than that we would recommend for other questions. This is simply because there isn’t a huge amount of process that one can follow in this type of question.

First of all, you must read the sentence and work to understand the context. What must the word mean? What type of word is it? Hopefully, you ought to instinctively realise what the word is at this point. If not, then you need to move on to the next stop.

Your next step is to brainstorm words that fit the context. If the word must mean that someone is annoyed, for example, you might think through irritated, angry, aggravated, etc.

If you still can’t find the word, then there isn’t much more to do at this point – you can’t very well work through all possibilities – unless it’s multiple choice, of course! Instead, we recommend that you move onto the next word, work through that, then quickly return – you will often find that your mind has digested the sentence and you suddenly realise what the word is. 

Worked Example

He saw a lot of potential in the team – they were still a true leader, and they had certainly always been an IIC part of motorsports.

So, our first step is to read through and consider what the sentence means, and thus what the word must mean. It is clear that he really likes the team, and that he sees them as historic. So, we need to consider what kind of word we must find.

Let’s imagine that I don’t immediately find the word. I might think instead of words like ‘important’ which does not fit, or ‘integral’, which also does not fit. At this point, I will start to struggle. Therefore, I would choose to move onto the next question, rather than waste my time trying to fit three letters words into the word until I solve the mystery.

After completing the next question, I return to this one – and hopefully find that the word ‘iconic’ has occurred to me. 

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Top Tricks

There are few tricks for this type of question. The best trick is to remain calm, and let your mind wander across the subject – with this example, one would think of the above words, and perhaps also others like, ‘frontrunner,’ ‘inspiration,’ etc. The more words you can think of, the better! 

Common Pitfalls

The most obvious pitfall is wasting time on a question that you’re struggling with. Give yourself a minute to attempt the question, and if you’re struggling, then move on.


In summary, this is a question type that cannot really be attacked with a particular process. Make sure to understand context, make sure to process words which suit the topic, and then move on if needed – and return a minute or two later after completing another question or two.
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