VR - Finishing and Starting Words


Find one letter which will complete all the words by finishing the first and starting the second in each pair.

hear ( ? ) ear me ( ? ) own

Choose the correct answer:

a) N b) G c) D d) S e) T

This is a variation on the style of question and is no different really – you just have to be more careful in not going for the obvious answer without checking. Most of these questions will provide multiple choices.

The technique when you have multiple choice answers is the same as the previous questions but you are going to only have a few choices. Pick out a combination of letters which seems less common and work from there, but obviously stick to the five possible answers when trying to form words!

I would stick with ‘hear’ as there aren’t too many words which start with that combination of letters. In your head you should place the letters given after ‘hear’ and see if they create words. Dyslexic children in particular should think about writing down the words that are created although of course this takes extra time.

Ensure that if your child is dyslexic that they are getting all the support and extra time that they are entitled to well in advance of any entrance exam being sat.

Let’s explore the ‘hear’ combinations:

Choose the correct answer:

hearn hearg heard hears heart

The first two make no sense; as long as your child is remembering to forget about the way that ‘hear’ is pronounced they will quickly see that the last three are all reasonable answers. The answer must be ‘d’, ‘s’ or ‘t’ so these must be applied methodically to the next word, ‘ear’.

dear sear tear

All of these are words although I’d be surprised if ‘sear’ was at the level of vocabulary expected of a child of this age. Nevertheless, we cannot discount a further letter yet so we move on to the next word, ‘bee’.

med mes met

While ‘med’ is a common enough abbreviation it is not a normal word in English, while ‘mes’ is not a word at all. These two should be discounted and ‘t’ is presumably the correct answer. However, double check that it makes sense in the final word to avoid any silly mistakes!


The final word also makes sense, therefore the correct answer is ‘t’. Once your child is familiar with the type of question, the whole process will take place in a far shorter time than it has taken to read through this page!

Example 2

Find one letter which will complete all the words by finishing the first and starting the second in each pair.

bal ( ? ) arn te ( ? ) lite

Choose the correct answer:

a) L b) M c) D d) E e) A

Okay, let's be systematic about this. There are several 'reasonable' options if you don't see it straight away and, given the possible answers in the choices provided, there are plenty of pitfalls.

Start with one of the words or one of the letters. Given that last time we started with a specific word, let’s try the alternative approach. Choose a letter and put it in each of the places to see what we get. The only downside to this method is that you may have to go through all five before you find an answer (or four that don't work, thereby making the fifth the correct answer!) On the plus side, it can be quick if you pick the right letter to start with.

Don't feel obliged to start with the first letter. As long as you're on top of things and are crossing out the letters you've tried, it's irrelevant which you go for. Scanning through the letters shows one that is rarely used to end words - 'A' - so we'll not use that first. Let's use D as that's a common letter to start and finish words.

bal D - no problem
D arn - also good
te D - NOT GOOD. Be careful - these 'informal abbreviations' are not allowed in the test and your child needs to know what is acceptable as a spoken word and what is proper, formal English. Whether as a name or an abbreviation for a teddy bear, this isn't a 'real' word.

So let's move on, having put a pencil line through the option that we've tried on the question paper if it's written there. Next we'll try 'E' as that's a common ending for words.

bal E - fine, although some children may struggle to see it as a word, especially if they're unfamiliar with the countryside
E arn - no problem
te E - again, it's fine but a lot of children will be put off if they have a limited vocabulary and don't recognise this as a term in golf or a 'starting point'
E lite - four words are okay - this is another that some children won't know but, of course, it's a legitimate word

The answer must be 'E'.

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