NYT Mini Crossword: 8 Strategies To Solve It Fast (2024)

The New York Times Mini crossword is a classic puzzle, and the rules are simple. Follow the clues down and across to fill in the daily puzzle, and do it as fast as you can. The crossword writers at NYT put out a new puzzle every day, and that means every day there are new clues for players to follow. This follows the same schedule as the daily Wordle and can be found on the New York Times games app.

The Mini is a five by five, meaning the words used in the puzzle can only be five letters long at the maximum. This limits the possible answers quite a bit, but it is also possible that the answer may be two shorter words, like "I AM." These little crosswords tend to be simpler and less in-depth than the full-sized crosswords that the New York Times puts out, but they can still be difficult, especially towards the end of the week. Knowing tricks like these will make solving the daily Mini worlds easier.


5 Letter Words Wordle Hasn't Used Yet (Updated Daily)

Wordle, the popular word-guessing game hosted by The New York Times, has over 1,700 words remaining as possible solutions.

8 Work The Hard Ones Last

Don't Be Afraid To Move On

Any school-goer knows this strategy for test-taking. When you have limited time, don't spend precious moments agonizing over questions you just don't know the answers to. Spend a second thinking about it, and if the answer isn't apparent, move on and come back. As seen in the gallery above, you can fully solve this puzzle without ever knowing that the Andes mountain range is the world's longest, as long as you know the other answers.

There are a few benefits to this, The Mini's hints are pretty simple most of the time, unlike the full-size crossword the New York Times puts out. Moving on will allow you to keep thinking about your answer while you knock out some easier words, filling in the gaps of your unknowns as you solve others. Come back at the end, and use the letters you've filled in from other words to help narrow down your answer.

7 Play the Monday Puzzle

Sunday's The Hardest

A New York Times puzzle writer explains on YouTube that Monday's puzzles are the best to start with for beginners. If you're struggling with the tricky Sunday puzzles, don't sweat the harder ones until you're feeling confident on a Wednesday or Friday puzzle first. This will help you learn the patterns of how clues are worded and what typical answers look like.

By doing the early puzzles each week, you'll be warmed up for the harder puzzles later in the week. Doing puzzles like The Mini or Connections every day will prime your brain for thinking quickly and pulling information from your long-term memory. You might find that you know more than you think once your brain is prompted to pull up those deeply buried facts!

6 Follow the Quotes

Read The Clues Carefully

As Puzzling Games on YouTube explains, when quotes are used in the NYTMini's clues, this means that the answer to the clue will be a word or phrase as it would be spoken aloud. One way to answer these questions is to think about how you can rephrase the quoted clue in one or two words. Typically, this word will be either in response to the clue or as a rephrasing of the word.

The example clue used in the video is "Quiet Down." In this example, the answer is a rephrasing, "Shh." Whenever you see quotation marks, think of spoken words or phrases associated with the clue rather than examples of the clue.

Knowing what quotation marks mean will give you an edge in completing these types of clues.

5 Guess and Check

Focus On The Letters

NYT Mini Crossword: 8 Strategies To Solve It Fast (2)

In the direst of times, one last-ditch strategy to solving clues that have you stumped is by guessing the possible letters and going until you get it right. Similarly to the "Skip it and Come Back" method, fill in the words you know before trying this strategy. Once you've got most of the words filled in, come back to the word you're not sure about. From there, figure out whether you're looking for a consonant or a vowel.

Knowing whether you need a consonant or a vowel in your word is always going to be a guess, but knowing what letters commonly go together and in what order can really help you out here. For instance, if your first two letters in the word are consonants, odds are high that your next letter will be a vowel. Following these patterns and simply guessing what letter comes next is sometimes the only strategy to finish those puzzles where you just don't know the answers to the clues.

4 Break Down the Clues

Possible Double Meanings

The New Yorker on YouTube explains common ways answers can be hidden inside of clues. This often requires thinking of the different meanings of words, wherein a phrase like "breaking your car" can be used to mean slowing your car down. Another meaning of this phrase could be to cause your car to be non-functional.

The differences between these two interpretations can drastically change the answer you come up with. Make sure to take your time in reading the clue. If your first understanding of the clue does not result in a word that fits with the rest of the puzzle, the problem might be that your interpretation of the clue was wrong.

3 Widen Your Knowledge Base

Get Smarter

NYT Mini Crossword: 8 Strategies To Solve It Fast (3)

Unfortunately, this is something that can only come by reading and playing trivia-style games. Reading often can increase your vocabulary and give you a wide knowledge base, even if you're just reading the news. Even playing games like Dungeons and Dragons can help you with crosswords, so you never know what knowledge might be useful.

A lot of the clues the NYT uses to create its crosswords are relatively common knowledge, and The Mini even more so, but some still take a bit of deeper knowledge that some may not have.

For instance, one clue from the March 29 Mini is "Sea, in French." The clue is straightforward enough, but if you didn't take French in high school or live in a place that speaks French, you might not know that "sea" in French is "mer." Having that one bit of knowledge that many people don't can allow you to solve The Mini just a bit quicker.

2 Use the Auto Check Feature

A Little Help Can't Hurt

The Auto-Check feature in the NYT Mini is in the top right, under the little icon that looks like a life preserver. YouTuber Sam Wilson explores the different features of the Mini above, so if you're having trouble finding the Auto-Check button, watch the video. If you're struggling, or you have all the words filled in but the puzzle is not solved, hit that icon. It will bring up the help menu, with a few different options to provide different levels of assistance.

Auto-Check will tell you what you've gotten wrong in your puzzle. Rather than marking entire words, it will mark the letters individually. Sometimes the failure is actually that the word was spelled incorrectly rather than you getting the word totally wrong. This feature lets you know which letters do not belong without being handed the correct answers. It's perfect if you're close, but you just don't know which clue you've gotten wrong.

1 Think of the Clues Like Riddles

Hiding In Plain Sight

NYT Mini Crossword: 8 Strategies To Solve It Fast (4)

If you've ever been a fan of riddles (like the Sphinx's riddles in Dragon's Dogma 2), some of the clues for the daily Mini are going to delight you. As in the image above, many clues read like simple phrases but are meant to be interpreted in a non-obvious way. If you're getting these wrong after the puzzle is all filled in, it could be that you've misunderstood a clue. These tricky clues are less common but appear more in the end-of-the-week puzzles that tend to be more difficult.

The clue in the image above is "Sail supporter." Typically, you might think of "supporter" as a label applied to a person, as in "someone that is in favor of or donates to something else." In this case, "supporter" is used more literally, as in "something that physically holds something else up." When you read a clue that seems grammatically odd, that's likely because the writers are trying to trick you into misinterpreting their clue.

Source: New York Times/YouTube, Puzzling Games/YouTube, The New Yorker/Youtube, Sam Wilson/YouTube

NYT Mini Crossword: 8 Strategies To Solve It Fast (2024)


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