5 phrasal verbs revision games for advanced students

Making students even remotely enthusiastic about learning and using phrasal verbs has been one of my biggest challenges as a teacher. These 5 games have proved to be effective as far as consolidating and revising my students’ knowledge of phrasal verbs and encouraging their use. I have been using these games with upper-intermediate and advanced learners, especially those preparing for their FCE and CAE exams.

Note for teachers: When choosing phrasal verbs you want your students to learn or revise, I would strongly encourage you to stay away from alphabetically organised lists featuring all the verbs with look or up.  If possible, try to introduce your students to sets of phrasal verbs organised by topic or taken from an actual reading / listening activity where they were used in a meaningful context.

    1. Word Sneak

This game is inspired by the segment on Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show. You might show your students the clip before you play so that they can understand the game better.

  • Prepare two lists of phrasal verbs you want your students to revise; make them 5-7 items long;
  • Divide students into pairs;
  • Give each student their list, students should get different lists of phrasal verbs;
  • Their task is to have a conversation in which they need to casually use (“sneak in”) phrasal verbs from their lists. As they carry on, they might cross out the verbs they have used. Set the timer for 5 minutes.
  • The person who manages to sneak in the most words in the set amount of time wins.

    2. Scattegories

This is a variation on the popular game of Scattegories.

  • Prepare the list of phrasal verbs you want your students to revise;
  • Assign a category to each phrasal verb; e.g. if you want them to revise the meaning of TAKE UP the category might be “3 things you take up to lose weight” or “3 reasons to take up a hobby”;
  • Prepare a set of separate cards for each category;
  • Students play in pairs or groups;
  • Distribute one category card per group and give your students 2 minutes to fill it in;
  • Check their answers, for each unique answer students get 10 points, for each repeated answer they get 5;
  • Whoever ends up with the most points, wins.

Example of a categories table to be cut up later: PHRASAL VERBS SCATTEGORIES

    3. Call my bluff

Yet another idea inspired by a game show.

  • Students play in pairs or groups;
  • Each group chooses 4 phrasal verbs from the set you want them to revise;
  • Students write down 3 definitions for each phrasal verb, one true and two false (trying to make it as difficult as possible to differentiate between them);
  • 2 groups/pairs play against each other, presenting definitions for their phrasal verbs;
  • To get a point, opponents need to choose the correct definition and use the phrasal verb in a sentence to the satisfaction of the team they are playing against.

    4. Dice game

  • Students play in pairs or groups, each group needs a dice;
  • Assign a preposition or a verb to each number on the dice (if TAKE UP is one of the verbs in the set you want to revise, you might choose either TAKE or UP to assign to a number on the dice)
  • Students roll the dice and need to come up with a phrasal verb containing the word which the number they rolled is assigned to. They also need to use it in a sentence. If the group accepts their sentence, they get a point.

    5. Connect 4

I wrote more about this game here.

  • Students play in pairs;
  • Their task is to fill in the gaps with prepositions/verbs and connect 4 adjacent squares (horizontally, vertically, diagonally);
  • Whoever does it first, wins.

Here are 5 activity ideas to hekp your students revise and consolidate new phrasal verbs.

If you have any ideas about making phrasal verbs revision more fun, please share them in the comments section. Thanks!


  1. Nice ideas, thanks, I have done something similar to your hidden words,with Whole sentences that have to be fitted into the conversation in the most natural way possible- really good fun for advanced students.!

    • I’ve wanted to try such an activity for a long time now. I sometimes find it hard to put a spin on activities for advanced learners (who have already done it all) and the “sneak in” concept seems like a cool solution. Thanks for stopping by, Alison!

  2. Fab ideas – I’m going to use the dice game this week! Another idea which I borrowed from a colleague is Phrasal Verb Stories – you, or the learners, write a short story with five phrasal verbs in, then read the story aloud to a partner, but miss out the phrasal verbs so the other person has to complete the sentence correctly.

    • Hi Teresa, the phrasal verbs story sounds great! I like how it engages students in the creative process. Thanks for sharing this idea!

  3. I love your way of #2 scattegories. I have now adapted it to several classes and different vocabulary areas. Makes an awesome game that my Ss really enjoy playing.

    • It’s a super versatile idea, isn’t it!I also enjoy playing it with ed/ing adjectives. I like how this game enables you to put the phrasal verb in context and personalise it a bit. Students tend to recall them better afterwards.

  4. Exactly. What I like is its simplicity, even minimalism, and the fact it’s not mainly a game but using the language in a personalised way. So far used with “noise words” – CAE, phrasal verbs (FCE), a haphazard mixture of words for a subbed class, and thinking of using it to go over the infamous Czech prefixes for my Czech classes.

      • Why? Are you learning Czech? So far for me, teaching my own language is a hard nut to crack. But that would be for a longer chat.

        • I’m not, but I’d love to see the same principle applied to teaching a totally different (and harder, I think!) language. Slavic languages must be incredibly challenging to teach. I wouldn’t dream of teaching anybody Polish. Also, I’m always up for a longer chat 😀

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