As promised, here are more tips and tricks in our series on how to ace entrance exams for schools, as well as information on how we coach students to succeed at Elisa’s Tutorial Academy. One of the trickiest parts of the entrance tests are the Reasoning sections – which are usually divided into Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning.
The two sections are challenging for different reasons and most children are better at one of the two. If your child has high language abilities, reads a lot, writes well and has a good vocabulary, then it is likely that he or she will find the verbal reasoning section easier than most. However, if their English skills are not very good, this can be one of the toughest papers in which to coach a child, as it takes real effort on the part of the student to improve his language level. In this blog post, I will focus on this very important paper.
One of the first things I do with children who come to me is tell them to read. Reading is essential for so many different reasons, but one of the main things that it does is improve your vocabulary. A good vocabulary is not only important for good writing and comprehension skills, it is indispensable for doing well in verbal reasoning. Verbal Reasoning tests can be of a format where children write in their answers on the paper, or multiple choice, where children will need to be familiar with choosing answers from a special answer-sheet.
Verbal reasoning, like non-verbal reasoning, checks students’ understanding of patterns and problem solving, especially when it comes to language. These tests are not part of the National Curriculum, and so students are unfamiliar with this style of testing. It is therefore essential that they are coached not only in the style and content, but in practicing this test at speed. I have several worksheets and workbooks that I give my students during and after classes, as well as material that I have developed myself, to give them a lot of practice in the type of questions that they ask in this exam paper.
You should check if the Local Council or school that you want to place your child in administers this test as part of their exam. Some places do not. Verbal Reasoning papers differ from school to school and area to area, but they usually have similar things that they require students to do:
- Find and duplicate patterns
- Solve problems
- Think logically
- Understand words
- Time themselves
- Know a wide range of spelling rules and spellings
- Understand linguistic cues and structures
- Unjumble words
- Do crosswords
- Predict what’s coming next
If you are finding it difficult to visualise the kinds and difficulty levels of the questions asked here are a couple of typical questions taken from a sample BOND paper.
ExampleQuestion:Find the four-letter word which can be added to the letters in capitals to make a new word. The new word will complete the sentence sensibly.
They enjoyed the BCAST. _________
Confused? The complete word is BROADCAST.
Here’s another ExampleQuestion:Find two letters which will end the first word and start the second word.
tro ( _ _ ) tion
Answer: The letters are o and p, to make troop and option.
So as you can see if you do not know how the questions work, even if you have a decent vocabulary, it does not guarantee success. This is why it is important to start training your child in the years before they have to attempt such papers. Besides sending him or her to a tutorial school like mine, you can also play word games with them like Scrabble, and teach them to do crosswords. The dictionary is another important tool, which can be turned into a game.
More than all of that, however, your child has to read, if he or she does not already does so. You can read my previous blog posts about reading. I am also compiling all the vocabulary that I think is important into a book that will be available for sale soon. This will be a one-stop-shop for preparing for Verbal Reasoning and English papers so make sure you watch these pages for news about when it goes on the stands. If you drop me a line, you could be the recipient of a sample copy!