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11+ Odd Ones Out Illustration | Red and green peppers
Odd ones out are sometimes easy to spot.

VR - Odd One Out (1)

I’m sure we are all familiar with odd ones out but, just to clarify, the odd one out (sometimes called the odd man out) is the person or thing that is different from the others in a group or set.

Still not clear? Here’s an example:

Monday Wednesday January Saturday

In this example, January is the odd one out, as all the others are days of the week, but January is a month.

How Are Odd Ones Out Used In The Exam?

In the Verbal Reasoning exam, candidates are given a list (usually five words) and asked to name which two do not belong: three of the five words are connected and two are not.

Let’s try some.

Example Question One

Three of the following words are related in some way. Pick out the two words which do not fit in with the other three.

Dog Cat Rabbit Fish Snake

A quick look at the words and you can find a connection between all of them - they are animals and they can all be kept as pets. However, that's not what we should be looking for as it's not about the way five can be linked but the way that three can be linked clearly and exclusively. Having two words linked is not good enough, although it may at least give some ideas that can be worked with.

There are several different reasons for the answers in this question to be as they are; the dog, cat and rabbit are all mammals, have four legs and fur... There are many reasons to discount ‘fish’ and ‘snake’ although they are also animals. The correct answers will be the two which DO NOT fit in. The answers are therefore ‘fish’ and ‘snake’.

Example Question Two

Three of the following words are related in some way. Pick out the two words which do not fit in with the other three.

Saw Heard Chisel Hammer Look

There are three tools in this list and therefore the remaining words are the answers; the odd ones out. However, ‘look’ and ‘heard’ have a connection with the word ‘saw’ so we have to be careful.

One reason that ‘look’ and ‘saw’ are the odd ones out is that the connection between the other three is very clear-cut - chisel, hammer and saw are all hand tools. However, although ‘saw’ and ‘heard’ are both the past tense of words to do with the senses, ‘look’ is not. It has a connection, but it is a present tense word and would have more to do with ‘listen’ than ‘heard’.

Encourage your child to think about homonyms, or words which carry different meanings despite identical spelling.

Technique Tip

This type of question almost always relies on MEANING of words and therefore, if your child is looking at things like ‘this word has two syllables’ or ‘there’s a double letter in those words’, then they need to be brought back round to looking at what words mean.

Example Question Three>

Three of the following words are related in some way. Pick out the two words which do not fit in with the other three.

Shoulder Knee Ankle Wrist Elbow

As stated in an earlier example, there will often be a clear link between the full five answers but it's no use in finding an over-arching connection as that's not going to differentiate between them.

Here, all have something in common as they are parts of the body. Further analysis shows that they are all joints, so your child has to apply a different technique to find a way of removing two that 'don't fit'. Here, the knee and ankle are not joints in the arm, whereas the other three are. The answers are therefore ‘knee’ and ‘ankle’.

Let's try a similar one where the five all have a clear connection and you have to delve a little deeper to find a sensible answer that fulfils the criteria:

Example Question Four

Three of the following words are related in some way. Pick out the two words which do not fit in with the other three.

Ornament Curtain Lamp Vase Radiator

All are found in the average living room, so that's the unhelpful connection. In order to find the right answer, you have to start picturing the different objects. Where would one expect to find them?

Radiators are found on the wall.

A curtain can be found hanging over a door or window.

That leaves us with the other three, each of which are most likely to be found on a table or similar.

The remaining two words - radiator and curtain - are the correct answers.

Example Question Five

Three of the following words are related in some way. Pick out the two words which do not fit in with the other three.

Under Through Thorough Though Beside

It's tempting to say that the three words at the start are very similar so are connected. They may be similar but that’s not good enough – you have to be able to say ‘those three words are ...’ but here it’s not possible.

Your child should have worked on parts of speech at school so should be able to tell you what a preposition is – a word which shows the position of one thing in relation to another. ‘Under’, ‘through’ and ‘beside’ are all prepositions and this is the strongest connection you can come up with in this case. ‘Thorough’ and ‘though’ are therefore the correct answers as they are NOT prepositions.

It's also worth pointing out at this stage that there are all sorts of variations when it comes to parts of speech. While we teach a child that 'play' is a verb, what about a play that you watch, write or act in? Then, 'play' is a noun and it's important that we don't encourage children to see a word as only one part of speech.

Just for fun, see how many meanings the word 'set' has, and think about what that means for classifying it!

Sample Tests

So that’s the gist of Odd Ones Out questions in the Eleven Plus Verbal Reasoning exam. There is a little more to show you, which we will look at in the next article, Odd One Out (2). You might want to read that before you try some Odd Ones Out questions, but if you feel ready for some practise, here are links to the four quizzes we have on that topic:

Two Odd Ones Out 1

Two Odd Ones Out 2

Two Odd Ones Out 3

Two Odd Ones Out 4

If you are ready for the next article, then I’ll see you there!

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