Non Verbal Reasoning Exam: What You Need to Know and How to Prepare

For most parents, the Non-Verbal Reasoning section of the 11 Plus Exam is the stuff of nightmares! This section is akin to intelligent tests and some of the questions presented to these 10-year-old pupils can sometimes be a challenge even to adults.

What is Non-Verbal Reasoning?

Non-verbal reasoning focuses on problem-solving through the use of diagrams and pictures. It tests a child’s ability to assess visual information and solve problems through the use of visual reasoning.

For example, children may have to look at sequences and find the next in the sequence or find the odd one out. An example of this is below:

NVR question

It is important to lay the foundations for your child’s learning at an early stage to give them the best chance of getting ahead.

Breaking Down the Non-Verbal Reasoning Test

Non-verbal reasoning test

Non-verbal reasoning covers a wide range of psychometric ability tests designed to determine how well your child can understand and visualise information to solve problems. 

These include tests related to inductive, logical, abstract, diagrammatic and spatial reasoning. For the most part, non-verbal reasoning is used to indicate where verbal competency is not the main objective of the test. For this reason, this type of test is seen as particularly effective for international assessments, since even students who speak other languages are able to access the same test material.

You would often hear about non-verbal reasoning exams in the same breath as abstract reasoning, inductive reasoning, spatial awareness, and diagrammatic reasoning tests. Although they are not fully interchangeable, they do share a common objective, which is to address your child’s ability to understand and analyse visual information.

 As such, the term “nonverbal reasoning” can be treated as the umbrella term for all of these tests and you can expect to see them in the non-verbal reasoning section of the 11 Plus Exam. 

Abstract Reasoning

This involves the ability to analyse and understand non-verbal or visual information and then figuring out how to solve the problems using non-verbal reasoning. 

Questions under abstract reasoning typically consist of patterns or sequences of shapes and figures, and then students need to be able to recognise the similarities and differences among them to arrive at the answer. 

Since they do not rely on any learned language or math knowledge, abstract reasoning tests are a very powerful tool for assessing a student’s general intelligence. 

People that do well on abstract reasoning tests tend to be critical thinkers who can  easily work out new concepts and clearly define abstract ideas. 

Inductive Reasoning

Inductive reasoning is a form of logical reasoning that involves making broad generalisations from specific observations and going from a series of specific cases to a general statement. 

Here, students are required to study provided data, make observations, identify a pattern and make a generalisation. 

Unlike deductive reasoning tests, the conclusion in an inductive argument is never guaranteed and can even be false. 

Here is an example, “Jason is an uncle. Jason has a beard, Therefore, all uncles have beards”. 

As you can see, this conclusion does not follow logically from the statements.

Spatial Awareness

Rather than test a student’s ability to understand a logical series of patterns or statements, spatial awareness tests their ability to mentally rotate images and three-dimensional shapes. By understanding shapes in different configurations and imagining them in 3D, students are better able to grasp concepts and analyse them accurately. 

Diagrammatic Reasoning

In diagrammatic reasoning tests, candidates are given a diagram or a flowchart with a set of rules, which have to be applied in solving the question. This tests their ability to extract information from a diagram and use it to arrive at the right answer. For example, a student can be shown a series of distinct shapes in a diagram and then asked what the next shape in the series should be. The candidate must then work out the rule contributed by each of the different elements, and then use it to answer the question.

Non-Verbal Reasoning Tests Outside of the 11 Plus Exam

Beyond the scope of the 11 Plus Exam, non-verbal reasoning tests are also administered by companies recruiting for positions that involve problem-solving or technical ability. 

Theoretically, high performance in a non-verbal reasoning test correlates with excellent problem-solving ability. 

That’s why it is a huge plus to kids of today that they are able to master this type of test now. 

By testing their ability to discern patterns, extract novel information, identify inconsistencies in data, non-verbal reasoning tests help children develop their critical thinking abilities faster, leading them to become more independent thinkers and doers down the line. 

How to Prepare for the Non-Verbal Reasoning Section in the 11 Plus Exam

The 11 Plus Exam is extremely competitive so in order to maximise your child’s chances of being successful in the non-verbal reasoning tests, it is important to prepare properly. Here are some useful preparation activities to consider: 

Assess Current Ability

By assessing your child’s current ability with regards to non-verbal reasoning, you are establishing a baseline and identifying key areas that need to be worked on. 

Non-verbal reasoning requires good visual acuity and quick thinking, which is a skill that comes more naturally to some people than to others. 

Nevertheless, this skill can be improved by being disciplined and systematic. You can then analyse their progress along the way.

Practice, practice, practice!

While non-verbal reasoning tests have more to do with generalised intelligence, your child will always perform better if they are familiar with the types of questions asked in the exam, along with some strategies for solving them. 

You also want to make sure your child is familiar with the given rules for each question type so that they find the answers more quickly and not panic. 

You can download our practice test packages for your child and work with them to complete as many of these as possible. 

Focus on solving one rule at a time, examining the different elements of the test as well as its overall configuration, and when they have mastered it, proceed to the next. 

Work on time management

During the early preparation stages, timing will not be as important as understanding and students can take as long as they need to solve the practice questions. 

As your child progresses down the line, it becomes increasingly important that they learn to manage their time properly.

 As the exam day approaches, start setting time limits for each question so that your child can get accustomed to the real-world exam settings and solve problems accordingly. 

Enhance their critical thinking and cognitive learning skills

Hard work and dedication are non-negotiables when it comes to preparing for any exam, but in today’s world of unlimited distractions and limited attention spans, it is more effective to study smart. 

This is especially true for the non-verbal reasoning tests, which are said to be tutor-proof. 

This simply means that even though  CEM and GL Assessment, the most widely used publishers of 11 Plus exam papers around the UK, include a fairly narrow selection of question types in their non-verbal reasoning test, they can also choose to add in new question types, such that it becomes even difficult for a tutor to prepare a child for the type of question they will be faced with. 

While it is important for your child to master the different question types, it is equally crucial that they enhance their core skills in critical thinking and adopt a self-learning approach. 

This way, they are more confident and can tackle anything that may come up on the big day.

Take advantage of learning tools 

11 plus learning tools

Today’s children spend a lot of time on their mobile devices, so why not use that medium to help them prepare for their exams?

One of the best learning tools for the 11 Plus exam preparations is the Kidsmart app. It features a series of problem-solving puzzles, games, videos, and interactive lessons designed for cognitive skills development. 

Through KidSmart’s gamification learning program, your child can improve on the skills necessary to pass the non-verbal reasoning segment of the 11 Plus. These include: 

  • Comprehension: This involves the ability to understand the facts and make sense out of the information provided.
  • Analysis: This skill helps your child break down objects or concepts into simpler parts, identify rules and find the right information for solving the problem.
  • Evaluation: This deals with the ability to make judgments based on internal or external criteria and defend said judgement with evidence.
  • Synthesis: By improving this skill, it becomes easier for your child to combine component ideas, form theories, and even propose alternative solutions
  • Application: This skill is crucial since the non-verbal reasoning test essentially requires candidates to apply learned knowledge to actual situations.
  • Increased Speed: Games typically require quick decision making and KidSmart’s games are no different. By applying this principle to learning and preparing for the 11 plus, children ultimately become faster at problem solving, which in turn boosts their confidence. 

KidSmart uses adaptive technology to identify the current ability of your child and features adjustable difficulty levels. 

This maintains the fun in learning as well as helps you monitor your child’s progress with regards to various attributes like speed, accuracy, and concentration. 

Non verbal reasoning for 11+ requires proactive parents and proactive teachers. The learning process should be gradual to help your child grasp all the necessary concepts.

Get started with KidSmart’s 11 plus guide today and help your child ace this prestigious promotional exam.