How to do 11+ verbal reasoning - tips for parents

Key aspects of the verbal reasoning test for 11+ and KentTest

Published 20 July 2022

Reading and vocabulary

As an experienced 11+ tutor of many years, one of the requirements of the test is for your child to have a good vocabulary and many of the words that they might come across are not always everyday words that the average 10 year old knows either.

Knowledge of words and word types such as homophones (e.g. see and sea) words with more than one meaning such as conduct (e.g. an orchestra) and conduct ( e.g behaviour), compound words (e.g. black + berry = blackberry) underpin most verbal reasoning question types. To some extent, you can make an educated guess at the correct answer, but if you don't know the word meaning,  this won't work all the time.

The best way to build a big vocabulary, as well as a good understanding of grammar and sentence structure, is to read as much as possible- nothing can replace a good book. It will encourage your child's imagination and creativeness as well as helping them to absorb a number of different types of words. Try to choose books that are written well; by that I mean avoid those books that deliberately use bad grammar and ‘slang English’ - this will do nothing to help your child learn good English - these books are only suitable when your child knows the ‘correct version rather than believing that this language is correct. Try to expose them to a range of different genres, authors and styles such as newspapers and magazines. Explain how language can be used in different ways and different contexts and how this can influence the style and the overall meaning.

Buy a good dictionary - the internet is fine for once in a while but it is not the best source of word definitions. Whenever they come across a word they don't know, encourage your child to look it up in the dictionary which not only gives the meaning of the word, but often what type of word it is (e.g. noun, verb, adverb etc..) but some dictionaries also have a Thesaurus as well so they will also come across lots of synonyms for that word - a key part of verbal reasoning.

Engage your child in stories, visit the local library and encourage a love of reading early on - not just for the. Kent test but for life.



As mentioned above - a wide vocabulary will help your child unscramble words from the clues given

Example one 

A NEPPLIPAE is a sweet tropical fruit

Think of all the tropical fruits you know e.g. mango, lychees etc… can't be those  - look at the letters - it must be PINEAPPLE

Example two

There are sixty SNODCES in a UTMINE

This must be - there are sixty SECONDS in a MINUTE

Example three

There are EVNES colours in a WBRAION

We know a rainbow has seven colours so it must be 

There are SEVEN colours in  RAINBOW

Playing words games and puzzles is a fun way to help your child develop this skill- when children are playing and having fun- it isn't seen as ‘learning’ and they probably will be more receptive. If your child is at the end of year 4 and going into year 5 in September - now is the time to try to get them to play games which help to develop problem solving skills over the long summer holidays. Some ideas are Junior scrabble, crosswords, wordsearches and general puzzles - something to keep them occupied if you are going on a long journey and also something away from that screen as well!

Codes, sequences and logic

This element of the test is sometimes more akin to Maths than Verbal reasoning but being able to think logically and methodically is a key element.

Some of the sequences are like the following:-

AE is to BF as LP is to ??

Work it out by looking at the relationship between the first letter of the first two (e.g. A to B) which is one letter on and the second letter to the second letter E to F

Each time the sequence is adding one letter on to the previous on

So the next letter to L is M and the next letter to P is O so the answer is MO

There are many logic puzzles you can download on to your Ipad or tablet- some are interactive and some you can print out or there are a number of logic books you can buy which are inexpensive and easy to pack if you are travelling.

I hope you have found these tips useful and my next blog will be about the Maths element of the 11+

ROWENA HAWTIN MSc BSc PGCE teaching 11+ for over 15 years


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