11-Plus Exam Illustrations - Verbal Reasoning Quiz - VR - Filling Grids With Words (Questions)

Filling grids with words is something you may have seen in puzzle magazines. Similar to crosswords (but without any clues), the aim is to fill a crossword-style grid with some given words.

This is a question style that I've seen occasionally but isn't on a lot of papers. It's a useful exercise nevertheless as it makes children think about the words in terms of letters, rather than meaning, and manipulate them in a way which is similar to Non-Verbal Reasoning.

Make no mistake, this is not about a traditional crossword and there is no need to know the meanings of any of the words.

How Is Filling Grids With Words Used In The Exam?

Candidates are shown an incomplete or empty crossword grid, and given a set of words (or random letters) which they must fit into the grid.

Let’s look at an example:

Example Question One

Below is a crossword grid. Most of the words in the list will fit into it if placed correctly. Put them in the correct spaces and solve the crossword. There will be some words which do not fit in to the grid.

The first thing to look for is the top left corner. There are other ways of approaching it but it's good to start in the same way as we'd read a book so that you feel in control of things!

As the first letter of the 'across' word is the same as the first letter of the 'down' word, they must start with either 'B' or 'H'. (There are at least two possible words beginning with these letters but only one of the other initial letters.)

'H' is the commonest initial letter so we can try this. If we consider the top word, it might be 'HOTEL', 'HALVE', 'HATED' or 'HOMES'. This would mean the middle word going down would start with the third letter of these words - 'T', 'L', 'T' or 'M'. We have no available words beginning with 'L' or 'M' so we can dismiss 'HALVE' and 'HOMES' as being the top word.

The remaining possibilities are now 'HOTEL' and 'HATED'; the final letter of these has to be the first letter of the 'down' word on the right. However, there are no words available beginning with either 'L' or 'D' - this means that we've got no 'H' words to fit the grid at the top so we must use either 'BURST' or 'BEECH' as the top word instead.

It's not possible to choose one of the two possible words as the 'across' or 'down' word yet; in fact, the question can be answered either way. It can be completed with 'BURST' going across or down.

Let's start with 'BEECH' as the horizontal word. That means that 'ENSUE' has to be the middle vertical word and the only problem is to choose the correct word beginning with 'H' for the final vertical. If everything else is put in, using the only possible option, it will look like this:

The only option for the final vertical is therefore 'HATED' and this completes the puzzle.


Unfortunately, the Education Quizzes site (which uses a multiple-choice format) is incompatible with these kind of questions. This is a shame, as we would have liked to offer a fully comprehensive set of quizzes for Verbal Reasoning. However, these types of question are extremely rare in exam papers.

The best way to practise filling in grids is to purchase a puzzle magazine,. There are many different ones available and most will include puzzles like this, or variants using numbers rather than letters.

In fact, puzzle magazines are great if you want too exercise your child’s brain. Problems like these, along with logic puzzles and Sudokus, will help to limber up the mind. They are fantastic ways to keep you child entertained and educated at the same time.