11+ Odd Ones Out Illustration | Milk
Odd ones out are not always this easy to find.

VR - Odd One Out (2)

In the previous article, Odd One Out (1), we introduced you to some of the ways odd one out questions are used in the 11+ Verbal Reasoning exam.

As we saw, candidates are given a list of words and tasked with finding the two which do not belong. Now this is not usually too difficult to do – the differences between the meanings of the words are quite obvious. But there are some occasions when things are a little trickier.

Let’s have a look at some of those.

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.

Cauliflower Cabbage Vegetable Green Broccoli

The extra words here are designed to lead you into making an error but clearly cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli are all types of vegetable so the words ‘vegetable’ and ‘green’ are odd ones out as they are not.

Some may say that ‘greens’ are vegetables and therefore the question is misleading. However, the word on the page is ‘green’ and that is deliberate – never tweak a question to fit an answer! It's rare (but not unheard of) that a mistake is made on the paper but always assume it's correct.

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.

Beef Lamb Horse Foal Calf

All are to be found in the average farm, but the word 'beef' is a bit odd as it suggests the meat rather than the animal. That also goes with the word 'lamb' and often the 'red herring' connection is made at the start of the list.

Closer examination reveals the word 'lamb' here is not to do with the meat - it's purely used to mean a young animal, as are 'foal' and 'calf'. The odd ones out are, therefore, 'Beef' and 'horse'.

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.

Shout Cheer Happy Jubilant Yell

This is similar to the above example; the key is ‘parts of speech’. While ‘happy’ and ‘jubilant’ describe a state of being in a positive mood and ‘cheer’ is something that you may do when you are in a positive mood, it isn’t possible to unite the three under one statement. However, ‘shout’, ‘cheer’ and ‘yell’ are all ways of making a loud noise using your mouth. They are all verbs. The left-over words are therefore ‘happy’ and ‘jubilant’, so are the correct answers.

Technique Tip

Make sure your child can make a clear statement about the three objects or words they have chosen. For instance, you could say ‘cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli are all vegetables’ or ‘under, through and beside are all prepositions.’ If they cannot do this they are probably wrong.

In case your child has not got a firm grasp of the idea of parts of speech (and I know from experience that it is easily forgotten!) here is a helpful reminder of the key points.

Noun A place, person, concept or thing, e.g. ‘table’, ‘darkness’, ‘England’
Verb An action or state of being. A ‘doing word’ as it’s rather simply put but there are plenty of verbs which don’t involve any ‘doing’ or action, e.g. ‘I like’
Adjective Describes a noun, e.g. ‘long’.
Adverb Describes how something is done, e.g. ‘happily’.
Pronoun A word which stands in place of a noun, e.g. ‘he’.
Preposition A word which shows the position of something in relation to another, e.g. ‘above’.
Conjunction A word which links together two shorter sentences or clauses, e.g. ‘but’.

This is not a complete list and there are variations which are more high-level than we need worry about. At this stage we simply have to ensure that your child knows these seven categories. There is no need to parse a sentence (break it down and analyse each grammatical component) as was traditional in the past; some private schools may offer marks in English papers to children who can do this sort of thing, but there is no need to worry for most taking the Verbal Reasoning exam.

If matching groups of three words in the type of question above, you should ensure that all fall into the same parts of speech category. It is unlikely that the answer will be a mixture of these as there are rarely answers which connect by having ‘something to do with [subject]’.

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.

Bake Rise Bun Bread Cake

Let’s use the information from the previous example, detailing the different parts of speech, to prove what the answer required is. The overall connection - for what it's worth - is 'baking'. No prizes for that and to be honest, you should be discouraging your child from wasting time finding this if it's not obvious.

Now to finding the answer. ‘Bake’ and ‘rise’ (in their most common forms - let's deal with the obvious first!) are both verbs whereas the remainder are all nouns so the odd ones out are likely to be ‘bake’ and ‘rise’.

While we can make a comment that ‘bake and rise are connected with bread’ it doesn’t provide a clear statement of what the three words are. However, we can say that ‘cake, bun and bread are all cooked, cereal-based foodstuffs which one could eat at a mealtime.’ That’s a clear statement, giving no doubt about what the answer must be. Being less pompous, we can eat cake, bun and bread.

Whichever way you teach it, make sure your child can say 'A, B and C are ... while D and E are not.'

Sample Tests

Now we have reached the end of this section on Odd Ones Out, it’s time to practise. There are four quizzes on the Education Quizzes site devoted to Odd One Out questions.

You’ll find the quizzes in our Eleven Plus Verbal Reasoning section or, alternatively, you can follow these links:

Two Odd Ones Out 1

Two Odd Ones Out 2

Two Odd Ones Out 3

Two Odd Ones Out 4

Go through all forty questions with your child. You should find that they spot the correct answers straight away. If not, then teach them the techniques we’ve shown you here and they’ll be able to work out the right answers. Good luck!

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