How Can You Develop Verbal Reasoning Skills?
By Chris Pearse
25 Feb
Verbal reasoning is ‘understanding and reasoning using concepts framed in words. It aims at evaluating ability to think constructively, rather than at simple fluency or vocabulary recognition.’ (sourced from Wikipedia)

Verbal ability is often included in entrance exams for secondary schools and requires students to be critical thinkers. Words are at the heart of verbal reasoning tests, however, cracking letter and number-based codes can be incorporated. Interestingly, many jobs set verbal reasoning aptitude tests as part of their application criteria. These tests tell employers how well a candidate can extract and work with meaning, information and implications from text. It's all about logic expressed verbally.

The obvious connection between good verbal reasoning skills is reading widely but ensuring your child covers a range of genres, topics and even eras. Challenging your child with the written word will enable them to encounter a range of new words. Putting these new words into context is so important and using them regularly so they stick in their mind! Keeping a journal of these words will help with revision nearer the exam and it is recommended to write a short, concise definition.

Another way of expanding vocabulary is to introduce a new word every day. A fun way to help with understanding is to use the word as frequently as you can during the day. See how many ways it can enter everyday conversation. Learning is fun when it is a game! There are some fantastic word games like Scrabble, Boggle, Bananagrams and Word on the Street which are excellent at developing vocabulary at your own pace, while also learning words from opponents.
In the GL Assessment (GLA) and CEM 11+ exams they will set word related questions. Commonly synonyms and antonyms will appear and this involves knowing the meanings of words and selecting a word that is closest or opposite. Word knowledge can also be tested through analogies, odd one or two out, multiple meaning, missing letters, missing three letter words or move a letter. Often having a good general knowledge can help with these questions. For example, below is an odd one out question that requires an understanding of male and female animals:

doe        sow        cygnet      mare
The answer is cygnet as all the others are female animals.

It can be useful to develop your child’s knowledge on flowers, trees, animal’s young, herbs, spices, capital cities, sports and jobs. In the GLA exam they can include numeracy questions within a verbal reasoning paper. These questions require a good understanding of the four operations and simple algebra. Below are a few examples:

In these questions, find the number that continues the series in the most sensible way.

3, 5, 9, 15, 23 (?)

In these questions, letters stand for numbers. Work out the answer to each sum, then find its letter.

If A = 6       B = 5                C = 10           D = 2              E = 30

C ÷ D x A = ?

In these questions, the three numbers in each group are related in the same way. Find the number that completes the last group.

(6 [36] 6)             (8 [64] 8)              (9 [?] 9)

In these questions, find the number that will complete the sum correctly.

44 ÷ 11 + 4 = 16 ÷ [ ? ]  

Becoming familiar with the different verbal reasoning question types is an important element to developing better skills in this often exam dominant subject area. Galore Park have some wonderful verbal reasoning practice workbooks and practice papers to build familiarity and time management skills.

In summary, developing a strong vocabulary will enhance verbal reasoning skills. There are a variety of ways of building this word knowledge and if it can be made fun it is more likely to be retained. Using up-to-date and exam board relevant materials is vital. Remembering vocabulary can be widened by reading challenging books which cover fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Keeping a track of the unfamiliar words will also aid revision nearer the exams. Verbal reasoning is definitely a life skill and will help you in any walk of life!

Find out more about our Verbal Reasoning resources here

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Tags: 11+, 11+ Revision, 11 plus, CEM, Common Entrance, Entrance exams, exam, Exam Preparation, Exam tips, GL, independent schools, Practice Papers, pre-test, pre-tests, revision, revision prep, Revision Tips, Verbal Reasoning

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