11-plus Exam: Example Questions Guide


Questions at an 11+ level usually range from straightforward to more advanced and we will cover the main types of questions that are likely to come up in your comprehension exam. Throughout the exams in this resource each will be labelled with a corresponding question type so you can refer back to this section if you ever get stuck on how to approach various types of questions. 

You will also be able to see how to model answer for every single exam in this textbook so you’re able to find several examples of how to answer the question type perfectly. So, let’s get going with the easiest type:

Recall questions

Recall Questions 

Recall questions are often straightforward and only worth a few marks. They often appear at the beginning of the 11+ English comprehension paper as they are easier to answer. These questions will ask you to recall a bit of information clearly stated in the text. 

For example, if the text says:

Recall Question Example

A recall question could be something like this:
How long is it until December 25th?

Christmas (December 25th) is a week away. (1 mark)

What is Lola expecting to be treated with when she gets home?

Lola is expected to be treated with her mother’s freshly baked mince pies. (2 marks)

Top tricks for answering recall questions:

  • Always double read the answer to ensure you are understanding the recall question correctly. It’s so easy to misread a sentence when you’re only reading it once, so always double check, just to be sure. 
  • You will be awarded fewer marks in the recall questions as the answers should be short, simple and to the point; recall the information from the text succinctly and accurately. 
  • If unsure, underline the corresponding answer on your text to be sure you’ve recalled the information correctly. 
  • Unless stated, it’s usually unnecessary to use quotation marks for this question. 

Rephrase questions

Rephrase Questions

Importantly, rephrase questions will always ask you to answer the question “in your own words” – this means you cannot quote directly from the text and you must write your answer using your own phrasing. 

For example, if the text says:

Rephrase Question Example

A rephrase question would be something like this:

In your own words, explain how the ship sank. (4 marks)

At first, the ship was struck by lightning, which hit the mast. This was shortly followed by the sails catching fire from the lightning bolt, at the same time as the thunder was heard. The ship was already being rocked by the turbulent sea, and finally, one large wave overturned it. The boat let out a metaphorical noise, which likely would have been the stress on the metallic structure as it capsized. 

Top tricks for answering rephrase questions:

  • Always reread the text and underline the key points you will need to rephrase into your own words.
  • In the margin on your paper, write down short ways you could rephrase your point, or if the text doesn’t explicitly tell you what’s happening, write down what you understand to be happening. For example, “a vicious bolt” will always be lightening – this isn’t mentioned explicitly but you will have to mention it to get the marks. 
  • Don’t just use synonyms – you can’t rewrite the text using a thesaurus, you will need to carefully consider your phrasing, not just copy the text changing every other word. 
  • Look at the marks – usually with rephrase questions each mark represents a separate point you’ll have to rephrase. For example, in the example above, you may get 1 point for mentioning the lightening strike, another for explaining what the boat’s final sound might have been and so on. 

Definition questions

Books on shelf
Definition Questions

Definition questions will ask you to define the meaning of a word or phrase; this will usually be the explicit meaning, or the meaning in context of the text. If it’s for a phrase; you may need to answer the literal and metaphorical implications.

For example, if the text says:

Definition Question Example

A definition question would be something like:

Write the definition for the following words: (5 marks)

a) Gargantuan

b) Dumpy

c) Protrude

d) Dismissive 

e) Capricious

a) Gargantuan = Enormous and extremely large

b) Dumpy = Short and stout

c) Protrude = To extend beyond something

d) Dismissive = Showing something to be unworthy of consideration

e) Capricious = To show sudden changes of mood and behaviour

What does the following phrase suggest to you: “like an ominous turtle”? (2 marks) 

The simile suggests that because her body is seen before her head, Mrs Ginbells appears like a turtle, whose head protrudes from a shell. The metaphorical link between a creepy head appearing around every corner in a scary and foreboding fashion makes Mrs Ginbells even more threatening. 

Top tricks for answering definition questions:

  • Always look at the word or phrase in context to establish meaning – this is extremely important for words that often have multiple definitions depending on application in sentences. 
  • If you don’t know the meaning whatsoever, always find clues in the context too. For example, ‘capricious’ is used to describe her flippant way of handing out detentions – this shows that her nature is unpredictable. 
  • Try to always address the literal and metaphorical meaning of a phrase. Often the phrase you are asked to unpack will have be more complex than “Mary went to the park” and will often have a literary device that gives the phrase an additional meaning. Always try and identify the technique if it’s not already given to you; and discuss its meaning. For example, “like an ominous turtle” is a simile that shows something about her character – define it. 
  • Think of the type of word you are being asked to define, this will inform your answer. If you’re asked to define a verb; you can often start your answer with “to…” as verbs are doing words. If you’re asked to define an adjective, you can find other synonymous words similar to the adjective.

Point, Evidence, Explain (PEE) questions

Point, Evidence, Explain (PEE)

Point Evidence Explain (PEE) are the hardest and highest mark questions you will be expected to answer in your 11+ comprehension paper. They rely on you inferring information from the text and writing the answers in a specific way; this specific paragraph structure is called Point Evidence Explain. Broken down, this is:

Point – Identify a single succinct point that answers the question. 

Evidence – Search for and relay quotes from the text which support your point. 

Explain – Link your evidence to your point; explain why you are using this quote to support your answer. 

For example, if the text says:

Point Evidence Explain (PEE) Example Question

A PEE question would be something like: 

What impression do you get of 45 Walthorn Road? Use quotes from the text to support your answer. (6 marks)

The mansion, known as 45 Walthorn Road, is portrayed to be isolated and deserted. The author writes “you’d need to travel another half mile” and “abandoned” to show how far away the estate is from the rest of the houses on Walthorn Road. Additionally, the writer uses the hedges to show that the property isn’t cared for, using the personification “spindly branches reached out”. By showing the branches as reaching out into the road, we can infer that the hedges haven’t been trimmed or pruned in a long time and shows the property is uncared for. 

Additionally, the mansion is shown to be ominous and intimating. The house is surrounded by signs that say “keep out”, “turn back” and “beware the dog” and refers to their being a “plethora” of them – this means that the current owner doesn’t want anyone approaching the house and uses intimidating signs to keep them away. Similarly, the author uses the simile of the house’s turret to be “like the spear of a primitive savage”. By linking the tower to a weapon he is implying that it is dangerous to approach the property. 

Top tricks for answering PEE questions:

  • Make sure your point always answers the question you are being asked; there’s no use in writing a point that doesn’t answer the question explicitly. Otherwise the rest of your answer won’t get you any marks. 
  • Choose your evidence judiciously – this means make sure your evidence really does support the point you are making. 
  • Try and choose evidence that has a literary device – this will help with your explanation as often literary devices are more nuanced and they can be picked apart easier. For example, the simile of a “like the spear of a primitive savage” links the house to a weapon showing it’s dangerous. More literary devices = more to unpack. 
  • If you choose evidence with a literary technique, make sure to identify it! It’s so important, this can be anything from something sophisticated, like a simile or metaphor, to your bog-standard noun or verb. 
  • Your explain should always seek to reinforce your point and should be an expanded and reworded version of your point. Essentially the formula is:

Point + Evidence = Explain.

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Elise Pearce

As our Head of Content, Elise’s role involves everything from email campaigns to web content; if you spot a typo, you know who to blame. A lover of all things creative, she studied History of Art at St. Andrews enjoys running and painting in her spare time. At home, when she's not busy chasing after her two Labradoodles, Flossy and Rupert, you'll catch her doing handstands on her yoga mat.

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