11+ Anagrams Illustration | Scrabble
Word games provide good practise for anagrams.

VR - Anagrams

Anagrams are words formed by rearranging the letters in another word. ALL the letters in the given word must be used in the new one.

Here are a few examples to show you what I mean:

ALIGNED is an anagram of DEALING

ROSIEST is an anagram of STORIES

ENLARGE is an anagram of GENERAL

How Are Anagrams Used In The Exam?

There is more than one way anagrams are used in the exam. In this article we look at the most common form they take. To see the other, check out our other article, Spotting Anagrams.

Usually, anagram questions take this form: candidates are given a sentence which contains one word which has been jumbled up. They are then asked to rearrange the letters to create a word that makes sense in the context of the sentence.

Let’s show you how it looks:

Example Question One

The sentence below has a word in which the letters are jumbled up. Rearrange the letters in bold and write the correct version below it.

The girl sat on a ARCIH.

There is no clear way to solve this, only sensible advice to guide you.

Firstly, look at context. In a simple question like this, the first thing you think of that someone would sit on is a chair. Obviously, this is the answer.

Thinking about the sort of thing which should be in the place of the jumbled letters gives you a real advantage. Imagine doing a crossword where the clue was just ARCIH (anagram). It would take longer than the question above as we would have no context and would only have the letters to use to help us, not context.

If the answer doesn’t come straight away, look for common letter strings. For instance, common endings such as ED, ION, ATE, AGE, ING, ER, ISE, IER, IEST can often be found. Similarly, common beginnings such as IN, IM, IR, DE, UN, RE, OVER, TRANS are useful to look for. There are hundreds of these, and they can be picked out easily enough.

Also, the answer must start with R, C or H as the girl sits on ‘A’ not ‘AN’ object. If she was to have sat on ‘AN’ object the answer would have had to have begun with a vowel.

Example Question Two

The sentence below has a word in which the letters are jumbled up. Rearrange the letters in bold and write the correct version below it.

The IAPRET shouted and swung his sword.

Even if you are able to see the answer, read the following as if you cannot see it straight away - it'll help get inside the head of a child who is struggling and, hopefully, enable you to help them when they draw a blank.

If there is nothing coming, put the letters in a circle to provide a different way of looking at them:


Maybe put one in the centre:


Alternate the consonants and vowels to make more sensible combinations or put letters that go together (such as STR, CH, TH) next to each other.


The context suggests we are looking for a type of person and someone aggressive while the letters A T E form a common letter string. These clues point to the word PIRATE.

There are not a lot of techniques to learn here – but the more anagrams you do, the more your mind works in that way. Doing cryptic crosswords certainly helps you to think that way, although I wouldn’t recommend starting children on them until a little later!

Example Question Three

The sentence below has a word in which the letters are jumbled up. Rearrange the letters in bold and write the correct version below it.

The children listened carefully to the UNSIROITNSTC.

The first point to note is the context – it is a person or thing which the children are listening to and is therefore a noun.

Common letter strings include UN, IN, TION, SS and others. S is also a common letter to end with.

Using some of these pointers we come to the answer INSTRUCTIONS.

Let's try one more of the same type...

Example Question Four

The sentence below has a word in which the letters are jumbled up. Rearrange the letters in bold and write the correct version below it.

She called to AEFIILNS the details.

The context in this one suggests we are after a verb. Common endings which go with verbs include ED, ING, ISE, ATE and many more. Taking out the ISE from the letters we have, we get AFINL + ISE. Now, it’s easier to see the word – it’s FINALISE.

Technique Tip:

As with so many other aspects of Verbal Reasoning, it’s much better for the child to create their own puzzles than just to answer questions. That’s why quiz setters are good at answering questions! Ask your son or daughter to make some anagrams for you to solve and they will get used to manipulating letters and noticing letter strings. This is particularly important for dyslexic children, for whom this section of a test can be unnerving. The more approaches you have to learning spelling patterns, the better.

Sample Tests:

Anagrams are one of those things that some people are naturally good at, and others not. If your child struggles with them then practise is key. I recommend puzzle books or crosswords which contain anagrams. If you can make learning fun, that is half the battle.

Anagrams do not lend themselves very well to multiple-choice quizzes. Nevertheless, for the sake of comprehensiveness, there are four quizzes on Anagrams in the Eleven Plus Verbal Reasoning section of the Education Quizzes site. You can find them by following these links:

Anagrams 1

Anagrams 2

Anagrams 3

Anagrams 4

Let your child try the questions on their own and, if they struggle, try some of the methods we’ve shown you here. Good luck!

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