Using Analogies to Master Vocabulary

Each year, over 150,000 students in grades 3-8 from some of the best public and private schools across the country participate in the WordMasters Challenge™.

Unlike other language arts competitions for this age group – which focus on grammar, punctuation, spelling and other language mechanics – the WordMasters Challenge™ helps students to think both analytically and metaphorically.

The contest addresses higher-level word comprehension and verbal reasoning in two ways: 

  • It bases the analogies on special vocabulary lists, developed for each grade and difficulty level by experienced teachers, which participants study before each meet. 
  • It challenges students to complete analogies based on relationships among words they have learned.

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Sample Analogies

Below are some examples of analogies and word lists from past WordMasters Challenges™. Select the correct answer from the list.

The answer is: e) INVEIGH because if you are FOR a cause or issue, you may LOBBY (attempt to influence in favor of something) for it; in a similar way, if you are AGAINST a cause or issue, you may INVEIGH (assail, attack with words) it.

The answer is: d) DURABLE because METICULOUS is the opposite of SLOPPY; in a similar way, DURABLE (long-lasting) is the opposite of EPHEMERAL (lasting a very short time).

The answer is: b) AXIOMATIC because HILARIOUS (very funny) is a stronger version of FUNNY; in a similar way, AXIOMATIC (universally accepted as true) is a stronger version of TRUE.

The answer is: b) SCATHING because SMOKE that is ACRID is stinging; in a similar way, a REMARK that is SCATHING is stinging.

The answer is: a) STIGMA because an INSIGNIA is a sign or symbol of one’s RANK; in a similar way, a STIGMA is a sign or symbol of someone’s DISHONOR.

The answer is: c) PORTENT because a MEMENTO is something associated with the past (like YESTERDAY); in a similar way, a PORTENT is something associated with the future (like TOMORROW).

The answer is: d) DESPICABLE because you might MOCK (ridicule, scorn) something that is LUDICROUS (ridiculous); in a similar way, you might CONDEMN (strongly disapprove) something that is DESPICABLE (deserving contempt).

The answer is: e) ABUNDANT because WILLOWY and THICKSET are opposites when describing a person’s size or physique; in a similar way SCANTY and ABUNDANT are opposites when it comes to describing the amount of something.

The answer is: b) REEL because if you move FORWARD in a lurching or unsteady manner, you STAGGER; in a similar way, if you move IN A CIRCLE in a lurching or unsteady way, you REEL.

The answer is: c) BOOK : FINISH because when you end a VISIT, you CONCLUDE it; in a similar way, when you end a BOOK, you FINISH it.

The answer is: c) TOIL because if someone is MUTE, they are not TALKING; in a similar way, if someone is IDLE, they are not TOILING.

The answer is: c) DEER : DOE because a MARE is an adult female HORSE; in a similar way, a DOE is an adult female DEER.

Challenge Schedule

Below are some upcoming dates for WordMasters Challenges™. Click below to view all upcoming important events.

Below are some upcoming dates for the current WordMasters Challenge™:

Online Enrollment Begins: April 1st
Enrollment Deadline*: October 1st

View Schedule

*You can still register your team(s) after the Enrollment Deadline of October 1st, but enrolling by this date maximizes the amount of time your students have to participate in Challenge Meet #1.     

“My son has really excelled at this as it has improved his vocabulary and his confidence. While he has a great memory, this is more than memorization and he likes being able to make the logical connections. He and his older brother will often identify words they both learned through the WordMasters Challenge™ when it comes up in conversation!”

- Nicole Martin, Parent

“I am really glad I found the WordMasters Challenge™. I am passionate about teaching it and feel pride and happiness when my students do well. They learn to differentiate the relationship between two sets of words and verbally tell what kind of relationship it is, teaching them logic and common sense. After the first challenge results come in, it never fails that they are chomping at the bit for the next set of words!”

- Sharon Green, Teacher

“My greatest joy is watching children become more discerning, more aware of the nuances of a word. I love watching them apply strategies rather than guess, set personal goals and work hard to attain them. I love to witness children who struggled with the first test improve, even if it’s just by one point. The WordMasters Challenge™ builds confidence in children, and it’s my favorite thing to teach all year!”

- Susan Holcombe, Teacher

“Kids tend to like competition. Trying to make a perfect score of 20 sparks a desire for the students to try even harder. In the process of trying to win, they are becoming winners themselves as they achieve personal bests, learn valuable vocabulary and strengthen their thinking skills, sometimes without even noticing that they have been working!”

- Anne McChesney, Teacher

“The WordMasters Challenge™ makes learning come alive. It helps our students learn new words, find them in the world around them and most importantly, think deeper. It helps with analytical and creative problem solving, and I believe it helps increase test scores due to their ability to think critically and make those connections. Best of all, the children have fun!”

- Karen Kunsa, Teacher

“The WordMasters Challenge™ doesn’t just enhance my students’ vocabulary. It encourages them to think more critically when reading and writing, search for connections between words and carry those connections with them beyond the classroom. The competition itself also encourages them to work as a team as they all work towards the same goal of improving each time, and it excites them. Parents will email me and tell they are astonished by the words their children are using at home!”

- Kristen Toth, Teacher

“I cannot tell you how many times we'd be talking about something in class and my students would say, ‘Oh, we know that! That was a WordMasters Challenge™ word!’ Having multiple meanings for some of the words helps train students to be open to more possibilities in meaning, which can help them with standardized tests and reading. We had fun and it’s a lifelong benefit to know that developing your vocabulary does not have to be difficult.”

- Cecily King, Teacher

“The WordMasters Challenge™ is a fun way to learn new words. The challenges are kind of like a game to find the connections and make the analogies, which is my favorite part.”

- Oliver M.

“With the WordMasters Challenge™, I learned a lot of different strategies for solving analogies and a lot of new vocabulary. It’s fun researching a word and then teaching it to the class. I think kids would have a great time if WordMasters Challenge™ was part of their class!”

- Rowan C., 4th grade:

“I like that the WordMasters Challenge™ lets me use my imagination to learn new words and remember the meaning of the word. You gain knowledge, improve your vocabulary and it’s FUN!”

- Alex L., 4th grade

Enroll Today and Receive 2 Free Sets of Analogies 101!

*Offer valid for new customers only

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WordMasters Challenge

The WordMasters Challenge™ is a vocabulary-based competition that focuses on completing analogies. Over the course of the competition, students will develop verbal reasoning abilities, higher-order thinking skills, improve logic and reading comprehension and acquire a life-long love for learning! 

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Analogies 101

Prepare your students for the WordMasters Challenge™ with Analogies 101! Each analogy set contains thirty analogies that introduce students to various forms of analogical reasoning. With an assortment of analogy formats and using basic vocabulary, Analogies 101 sets are suitable for all grade levels!

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WMC Merchandise

Need additional certificates or medals? Looking to reward your WordMasters throughout the school year? The WordMasters Challenge™ merchandise is perfect for motivating your students as they are improving their vocabulary. 

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