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Non-Verbal Reasoning

If you enjoyed my previous post on Verbal Reasoning test papers, please comment or like my post. This post here is my last one in the series of preparing your child for school entrance exams. Make sure to read the other posts in this very useful series, if you haven’t already!

I have saved the toughest for last in some ways. The Non-Verbal reasoning is one of the most difficult aspects of the 11+ school entrance exams. Even adults find it difficult to wrap their brains around some of the questions, and similar types of questions are used in IQ tests and the GRE university entrance tests, so you can see that they are definitely tricky!

Non- Verbal Reasoning is a method to gauge aptitude using questions for which students cannot prepare. Students are assessed on their ability to:

  • Use logic
  • See patterns
  • Solve problems
  • Predict what comes next
  • Apply spatial awareness
  • Use geometric skills
  • Understand visual information

The reason this is one of the trickiest tests to prepare for is that children are not taught any of these skills as part of the National Curriculum, or in school. As a result, they are completely unfamiliar with the kinds of questions and techniques that are part of this test.

If you are having trouble visualising the scope or difficulty of this test, here are some sample questions taken from a Bond paper.


Confused just looking at it, let alone solving it? It’s not surprising that you are. So you can imagine the effect it has on a 10-year old brain. Especially one that’s never seen anything like this before! The correct answer by the way is C. Why? It would take too long to explain!

Here is another very common question type:

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Yes, they are designed to be confusing! They are also designed to trick you, because it may seem like there could be more than one correct answer. Here, teaching children about elimination when it comes to multiple choice tests is crucial.  In the boxes above, for example, it is clear that the correct box would have a triangular shape on the top right hand corner. Thus, we have eliminated choices A and C already. And so on…

The correct answer is D.

You know your child better than anyone. How is she likely to cope with questions like this? If her spatial awareness or pattern recognition is not the best, it is unlikely that she will do well in this test without help. It is important to start a few years before in order to make sure that your child has all the advantages, both at home and at a tutorial like mine.

Like I said in my post about Verbal Reasoning, it is important that students not only learn about the test but also have practice in answering the questions within the allotted time. One of the techniques they need to learn to do this is letting a question go, if they don’t know how to do it, and coming back to it if they have time. Many children who haven’t been taught this tip and practiced a great deal on papers, end up wasting time on a difficult question and not even completing the entire paper.

I give my students several sets of questions and papers to do each time they come to me, as well as to take home. My knowledge and materials are a result of several years of following trends in question papers for several schools and exams. So, it is not only important to have several test papers, but to know what to teach – as things go in and out of fashion. For example, in English papers now, ‘older’ English is becoming popular, like in Enid Blyton books. So, if you don’t know what a ‘tinker’ is or think that ‘lashings of butter’ is a somewhat violent term, you will be at a disadvantage. My new textbook will be full of words like these and vocabulary exercises, so make sure you reserve a copy when it goes on sale!

Here we come to the end of my series of blog posts on school entrance exams. If you have any questions or comments, please do post a comment and I will get back to you. I hope you have also had a look at our new improved website! Tell us what you think about it. Good bye until my next blog post.


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