11+ Spotting Anagrams Illustration | Sauce Cause
Which word is an anagram of "sauce"?

VR - Spotting Anagrams

If you have been making your way through our 11+ Verbal Reasoning Exam Illustrations, the you will be familiar with anagrams already (we looked at them in our second article).

The examples we showed you there were of mixed-up words contained withing a sentence. They give candidates an extra clue to the answer, as there is some context to work with. But there is another way anagrams can be used in the exam, and it’s just that little bit harder – I call it Spotting Anagrams.

These are a different type of question and one which I have seen on entrance papers to independent schools rather than the standard papers set by Nelson, Bond or CEM. Nevertheless, a good candidate for Eleven Plus should be comfortable solving them.

How Are Spotting Anagrams Questions Used In The Exam?

Candidates are shown a list of (usually five) similar words. They are then asked to find which two are made up of the same letters.

Let’s show you how it looks with some examples.

Example Question One

Which of these words can be made using the same group of letters?

cause course sauce excuse accuse

It is pretty straightforward to answer - the method really is as easy as it looks. Go through every word quickly and see which SEEM to be very similar. A good candidate should be able to spot which ones have a likely connection and count the letters, compare them one letter at a time (being careful with repeated letters) and make a judgement.

For example, the first two words have a visual similarity and a phonic (sound) similarity. However, a quick check shows they have a different number of letters and that is the immediate reason they cannot be anagrams of each other.

Be very careful that your child is aware that words which sound alike are not likely to be right. The 'accept / except' type of word combination is unlikely to be correct and such pairs are put in there to catch out the unwary.

The answer to our question must be 'cause' and 'sauce'; make it clear to your child that this is not a difficult question and the key is to be able to solve it in a few seconds. Take care, look for 'obvious' answers that are traps, and be prepared to tick off letters in each word as you compare them.

Sample Tests:

Spotting Anagrams questions are very rare, as I mentioned at the start of this piece. To increase your child’s ability with anagrams there are a few thing you can do. Firstly, word games such as Scrabble or Upwords will help immensely. You might also want to get some puzzle books and leave them lying around. They’re always good exercise for the brain.

Anagrams do not lend themselves very well to multiple-choice quizzes, especially in the Spotting Anagrams format. However, we do have four quizzes on anagrams in the Eleven Plus Verbal Reasoning section of the Education Quizzes site, although these are contained within sentences, so not quite the same. They’re still a good way to practise though. You can find them by following these links:

Anagrams 1

Anagrams 2

Anagrams 3

Anagrams 4

Show them to your child and see how well they can do. Good luck!

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