11+ Similarities Between Letter Pairs Illustration | Boy doing maths
The connections between these letters are more to do with maths, than with English.

VR - Similarities Between Letter Pairs

Despite their name, Similarities Between Letter Pairs are more to do with maths than with English. They use the concept of a mathematical series, but using letters rather than numbers.

The alphabet is used and there is usually a numerical link to find, just as in the 'letter series' type of question which we looked at in previous articles.

How Are These Questions Posed In The exam?

Candidates are shown two pairs of letters which are related in some way. They are also shown one other pair of letters and asked which pair of letters would go with it in the same way as the second pair of letters goes with the first.

That’s a lot of pairs of letters! It’s always easier to show you rather than to tell you, so let’s have some examples:

Example Question One


Find the pair of letters that will complete the sentence in the most sensible way.

C D is to M N as F G is to ...


Firstly, make sure you are familiar with the style of question in Letter Series questions - go back and revisit our article if you must. Similarities Between Letter Pairs is just a variation on the same theme. Let’s use the same technique to see what the answer should be.

The first letter of the first pair is going to be related to the first letter of the second pair. In this case, M is ten letters along the alphabet from C, so I have written +10 along the top. Similarly, N is ten letters along the alphabet from D, so I have written +10 on the bottom.

Now, simply relate that information to the new set of letters:

Counting along the alphabet – and encourage your child to use this rather than just do it in his or her head – we find the answer must be PQ.

If they get used to the question format and are becoming increasingly able to do it mentally, that's fine - but encourage them to have the know-how to cope with a written method that should guarantee a correct answer. Good candidates get the technique right first then apply it mentally, rather than on paper, to save time.

Most of these questions follow a very similar format but there can be the occasional odd ones, which the next example will demonstrate.

Example Question Two


Find the pair of letters that will complete the sentence in the most sensible way.

A C is to Z X as D E is to ...


This time, and this is not a very common question, the counting method may not work. Let’s look at the way it would be:

Remember to tell your child that you should use the alphabet as if it was a loop – you can go from A back to Z. This makes it an easier – or at least quicker – calculation. However, this sort of question is almost certainly going to be multiple choice and if the following were the options then it’d be impossible through this method.

Possible answers: ED XZ WV WZ VW

The standard method would say it should be CZ but this is not a possible answer. So, look at the alternatives. The alphabet – with the letters highlighted – looks like this:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

The symmetry is what we are looking at here. A and Z are at the opposite ends of the alphabet while C and X are three letters in from each end.

Now, look at our second set of letters – DE – and find the letters which are symmetrically opposite.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Given that D is the fourth letter from the start of the alphabet, its symmetrical opposite is W. The opposite of E is V. The answer to the question is therefore WV.

Sample Tests

The best way to familiarise your child with Similarities Between Letter Pairs is, of course, to practise. There are four quizzes on the Education Quizzes site on this type of question. Work through all forty questions with your child, showing them these techniques if they have any difficulties. By the time you reach the second quiz, hopefully they will be ready to tackle the rest of the questions on their own.

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

Letter Connections 1

Letter Connections 2

Letter Connections 3

Letter Connections 4

Good luck!

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