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11-plus Non-Verbal Reasoning 


Non-Verbal Reasoning is used in many areas as part of an 11-plus examination. After verbal reasoning tests non-verbal reasoning tests are probably the most common type of 11-plus exam used.

Non-Verbal Reasoning questions test how a child can deal in a logical way with problems which are shown as pictures, diagrams or in many cases may have a large maths content. Non-Verbal Reasoning may contain questions on shading, sequences or ask a child to recoginise 3-d shapes and understand their properties.

There are a number of different types of Non-Verbal Reasoning question. Our Step by Step book will help prepare any child for this area of their 11-plus.

Below we outline some of the common question types that a child could expect to face in any grammar school selection test. Non-Verbal reasoning relies more on observation of 2-d and 3-d shapes and makes less reliance on the use of vocabulaty.

Which shape is similar to the others?

In this question a child is shown a number of shapes (usually drawn to the left) and asked to chose a shape from those shapes on the right. The similarity can be any number of things including but not exclusively the types, colours and/or number of shapes or the position of the shapes and/or the symbols. The list is almost endless but practice can improve a child’s skill levels.

Which one is different?

A very similar question to that described above but this time asking your child to find the shape that is different from the rest. Care must be taken to ensure that your child does not confuse these two question types.

Which larger shape is the small shape on the left hidden in?

A simple shape is drawn and then “hidden” inside a larger and more complex shape. The pupil must select the larger shape that the smaller shape is hidden in. This requires your child to have good special awareness and to look closely at the larger shapes.

What comes next in this series?

A number of shapes are given that form a sequence and your child must select the next shape in the sequence. A simple example would be black square, white square, black square, white square followed by the answer of black square. (all presented as diagrams and not in words.)

Which shape is the same as the one on the left, but facing the opposite direction?

In this question a child must understand what a shape looks like when reflected in a mirror. For some children this can be quite a difficult task but again with practice skill levels and understanding will improve.

Understanding “nets”.

A net is a 2-d representation of a 3-d shape which when it is folded it will make a 3-d shape. Children must know their 3-d and 2-d shapes and practicing by creating 3-d shapes from flat 2-d will reinforce this knowledge. This question can be presented in a number of ways by asking what the 2-d shape looks like when folded or by asking what the 3-d shape looks like when opened out.

What do two shapes look like when added together?

In this question two, usually fairly simple, diagrams are given and the child must decide which shape on the right is made by adding the two shapes together. Careful observation is required in order to select the correct shape. Often it is easier to eliminate shapes that are obviously completely wrong therefore reducing the number of possible answers.

What do two shapes look like when they are taken away from each other?

A similar to that described above but in this occasion the shapes are taken away from each other and not added together.

Which shape completes the matching pair?

Match the second pair of shapes in the same way as the first.

Often called analogies - this type of Non-Verbal Reasoning questions asks children to find a connection between shapes. The link may be colour, shading, number of sides, what’s inside the shape or any other possible link. Again careful observation is key to accuracy in this question type.

The rotation of shapes.

Shapes are rotated but not turned over and the child must select the correct answer. Often a “flipped” shape can resemble a rotated shape and children must be aware of this.

These samples give an idea of the question types that are set in 11-plus Non-Verbal Reasoning but all the questions will involve a good understanding of lines, shapes, patterns that can be reflected, rotated, enlarged, decreased in size or manipulated in any number of ways.

11-plus Non-Verbal Reasoning requires a child to have good spatial awareness and to be able to visualise shapes from many different angles.

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