Vocabulary Tips for 11-plus Preparation

Vocabulary tips for 11-plus preparation


Building your child’s vocabulary skills is something we advise you to start early in your 11-plus preparations. The verbal reasoning and comprehension papers can be extremely challenging for a 10 year old child but if they have a worked on expanding their vocabulary this will give them confidence to tackle even the hardest of papers. Please click here for an 11-plus vocabulary list. 
How you can help to improve your child’s vocabulary? 
  • Buy your child a notebook (one that will last!) where they can write down unfamiliar words and their meanings. Daily they will come across words they do not understand when they are reading, in comprehensions they tackle and when watching television. They should be encouraged to look these words up and learn the definitions of them.  
  • Buy your child a childrens dictionary. A childrens dictionary is invaluable for 11-plus preparation. Many children do not understand definitions in adult dictionaries as  they can sometimes contain words that they do not understand and need to look up. We use the Oxford School Dictionary in our tutoring sessions and on our courses. 
  • Encourage your child to use the words they are learning. It is only through experimenting with new words in speech and writing that they will learn how to properly use them. 
  • Do not simplify your language when speaking to your child. Hearing words in context in day-to-day conversations will help your child be confident to use the words themselves in speech and writing.
  • Read with your child. Building vocabulary skills does not need to be done formally i.e. by completing comprehension and VR papers. An excellent way to improve your child’s vocabulary (and their comprehension snd creative writing skills) is to read with your child. This is the cheapest and most effective way to improve your childvocabulary. You may want to read a whole book together or just dip into books. Some classics may not appeal to your child but reading a chapter or two is a good way of introducing them to new language, writing styles and vocabulary. Once you have read your chosen extract/chapter, write down all the words your child did not understand. Look them up and explain them. Then re-read the passage with this new understanding of the words. To build on comprehension skills ask your child to summarise the story, to explain how it made them feel and to express how the characters in the extract were feeling. The latter is particularly valuable for boys who find it difficult to communicate or indeed understand why a character is behaving or reacting in a particular way. You could also point out how punctuation is used and explain grammar along the way. Please click here for an 11-plus reading list. 
  •  Review and revise the VR practice papers that your child completes.  Each time your child has completed a VR test, go through it and add the words they have struggled with to their word book.  They should know the definition of all the words on the page. For example in a synonym or antonym question don’t just focus on the incorrect answer. Make sure they understood the other words in the question.  Add these words to flash cards (see below) and revise these questions in a few months time.   
  • Flash cards are a fun way of introducing new words and reinforcing words they have already learnt. Many flash cards also give synonyms and antonyms of words and examples of how to use the word in question. You could get creative and ask your child to make the flashcards – this is an effective way to remember the meaning of words. They could decorate and colour the cards which would help with visual memory too.  You could turn the flash cards into a family game. The 11-plus process can be quite lonely so this is a way to get the whole family involved.
  • Mrs Wordsmith is a relatively new resource, which can be helpful for word building, especially for children who are visual learners. The pictures that accompany each word could help your child memorise words and to fully understand the word’s meaning – especially when emotions are being defined. 
Remember – learning words can be fun! 
11+ Vocabulary List
Click here for  a list of the words that frequently arise in 11+ verbal reasoning and comprehension passages. 
11+ Reading List
Click here for  a suggested reading list for 11-plus.