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11 plus vocabulary list

By Atom | Oct 5, 2023, 11:07 AM

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The importance of vocabulary in the 11+

If your child is taking the 11 plus for entry to a selective secondary school, they will likely be tested on their vocabulary knowledge. Vocabulary is usually assessed in English or verbal reasoning tests, or a combination of both.

Vocabulary in 11+ English

Most eleven plus exams include an English test. This normally involves a reading comprehension task and in some cases, creative writing.

In reading comprehension questions, children will be tested on their ability to make inferences, deduce based on given evidence, rephrase, and summarise a passage. In creative writing tasks, children will be assessed on the extent of their vocabulary and its purpose within the text, as well as the accuracy of their spelling.

Vocabulary in 11+ verbal reasoning

If your child’s eleven plus test includes a verbal reasoning paper, you can be sure they will be tested on their vocabulary knowledge. Typical questions include selecting synonyms, antonyms or homonyms from a given list, spotting the odd one out from a selection of words, or identifying the connection between groups of words. Strong vocabulary knowledge is key to success in these questions.

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11 plus vocabulary list

Our 11 plus vocabulary list includes 500 words that we recommend your child should know before their exam. These include words used by past GL Assessment 11+ papers, and more challenging words from the Year 6 curriculum.

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Verbal reasoning paper

5 tips for expanding your child’s vocabulary

1. Read often and widely

Plenty of studies have shown that children who read many books (and a range of genres) learn new words faster and have much wider vocabularies than children who seldom read. This is because written language uses many more words than we use in spoken language.

Looking to inspire your child with new reading material? Atom's recommended reading list includes a wide variety of books from different genres for children aged 7–11.

2. Play word games

Games such as Scrabble, Boggle, word searches and crosswords can be really useful to help your child discover new words and consolidate their meanings. Playing word games together can make the process of vocabulary learning fun for your child, helping them stay engaged and motivated while aiding retention.

3. Look for word roots

Many English words have the same Greek or Latin roots which provide an indication of their meaning. If your child comes across a word they don’t understand, ask them to break the word down into parts and think about where they might have heard something similar before. Here are some common root words used in everyday language:

  • Aud: referring to hearing, e.g. audio, audible, audience

  • Bio: referring to life, e.g. biography, biology, biodegradable

  • Chrono: relating to time, e.g. chronological, synchronise

  • Geo: referring to the earth, e.g. geography, geology

  • Sens: relating to feeling, e.g. sensitive, resent

  • Sub: referring to something under or inferior, e.g. submissive, subterranean

4. Story writing

Story writing is a great exercise for your child to try out their newly learnt words in a relevant context. Encourage your child to write stories in different genres, trying out their vocabulary for different stylistic effects.

Creative writing is also assessed in many 11 plus exams. Find out which grammar schools include creative writing papers and get free resources to support your child's writing in our 11 plus creative writing guide.

5. Visualise new words

If your child is a visual learner, they may find it easier to recall difficult words if they can associate them with an image. Encourage your child to draw a visual interpretation of a word they find difficult – for instance, the word ‘economical’ may be associated with a picture of money, while ‘bewildered’ could be symbolised by a person looking confused.

Get ready to shine in the 11+

Atom is an online learning platform that gives your child everything they need to prepare for eleven plus exams.

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11 plus practice tests

Boost your exam skills with 11 plus practice papers tailored to your target school. Feel confident and know what to expect on exam day!

KCS Wimbledon, Alleyn's School and Bexley Grammar Schools 11+ mock tests

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GL 11 plus mock test transcript on Atom Nucleus

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