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Non-Verbal Reasoning revision challenge for 11+ and Pre-Test students
By Sarah Collins
17 Jul

Having looked at ways for children to maintain focus with exercise and improve their memory skills in the first two blogs, we now look at how short personal goals can be achieved with imaginative daily and weekly rewards.

1.  Great expectations

The first time you pick up a non-verbal reasoning book with a seemingly random succession of pictures, it’s difficult to see how revision can help. Well, in fact it does - as we explain in Part 2 - and if this familiarisation work is tackled with imaginative breaks it can even be enjoyable!

Firstly, think about breaking your child’s non-verbal reasoning revision into 30-minute to 2-hour time slots, with 10-minute breaks introduced within sessions (no longer than 40 minutes between stops).

Any activity that refreshes a tired mind ready for another quick session is helpful: dancing to music, kicking a football around, going for a quick walk or a chat in the garden would all work well. Activities such as gaming are not a good idea since your child becomes engrossed in the game rather than absorbing the information they have just learned.

Secondly, planning days that are completely away from the revision environment are essential if children are to feel ready for another school year at the end of their holiday. Exercise is ideal as long as it’s something your child enjoys, although just being away and stimulated by their environment makes focusing on revision much easier.

Thirdly, try some family games that help improve skills in non-verbal reasoning. There are many simple activities you can create that concentrate on aspects of the tests, such as recognising shapes or spotting rotations. Surprisingly, some questions also involve memory: in these problems a number of elements can change within the pictures and it is only by remembering what is happening to each element across the sequence that the problem can be solved.

Here are a couple of ideas:

Memory skills

Use sticky notes to cover up headlines and features on a cereal packet then take it in turns to choose a note and recall what is underneath.

Reflection skills [images from p11 Non-Verbal Reasoning Revision Guide]












Pick an emoji with a symmetrical pattern (such as a smiling face). Challenge somebody in your family to reflect the face in a horizontal line so that it is standing on its head. Move on to asymmetrical images and reflect these in a vertical line.

The Galore Park 11+ Non-Verbal Reasoning Study and Revision Guide includes many more ideas for family activities. All revision is broken into two–four page sections ideal for 30-minute or one hour familiarisation sessions. The Galore Park 11+ and Pre-Tests Study Skills book gives further tips on developing learning skills and helps you assess the most effective ways for your child to retain knowledge.

2. First steps

Many parents prepare their children for Non-Verbal Reasoning tests by buying a series of practice papers and letting their children work through the problems to see how they get on. Given that some exam setters state that ‘these tests cannot be revised for’, this approach is understandable although does not generally give your child the best grounding to succeed in the tests.

Being thrown in at the deep end with these picture problems can be daunting for children; indeed, many parents find them incomprehensible so it is not surprising that 11-year-olds do too!

So to begin with, it’s worth picking a revision guide that demystifies the problems before you start. The Galore Park Non-Verbsl Reasoning Revision and Study Guide does this by breaking questions down into maths skills, since questions can involve variations such as changing numbers of items, different shapes and rotations of shapes.

If you read Blog 1, you will have seen the Galore Park Maths Learning ladder. The Non-Verbal Reasoning Learning ladder shows how the two subjects are similar and is used to guide your child through the key steps in their revision, from basic skills at the bottom to the most demanding skills at the top.

In this blog, we are looking at how to understand non-verbal reasoning problems using some of the maths skills in the first three steps on this ladder: Shapes and shading, line styles, numbers and proportion. [graphic from page 6 of the Non-Verbal Reasoning Revision Guide]




 














 

3.  Building the basics

Before looking at number and proportion in actual questions, it is important to understand the basics of how Non-Verbal Reasoning questions work.

Looking for patterns in shading and lines

Many Non-Verbal Reasoning questions look at 2-dimensional shapes, such as squares, circles and triangles. The trick in the question is to find what has changed in the patterns.

Look at these two pictures to see what has changed:







It is, of course, obvious that both the number of circles and their colour has changed. However, as Non-Verbal Reasoning questions are black and white, colour change is represented with different tints as in the picture below. In this series of pictures you will see that the position of the circles has also changed.







The ‘colour’ of lines can change in the same way:









Once your child has understood these basic facts, the following question should be straightforward.


Non-Verbal Reasoning Challenge Question One...

 

What has changed between the first and second picture?



 


The answer to this question will be available at the end of the Summer Challenge. If you think you have the answer, why not let us know on Twitter @galore_park, Instagram @galore_park or Facebook @galore1park.


Finding out what doesn’t matter

Many questions look more difficult than they really are. This is because a few extra elements are added which are unrelated to the question. These elements are called ‘distractors’.

The question above includes two of these ‘distractors’: The three black squares and the dashed square on the bottom left are in both pictures and do not change at all.



Non-Verbal Reasoning Challenge Question Two...

Ask your child to answer the following question based on this new information.

There are a number of differences between these two pictures. Pick out the ‘distractors’ (elements that don’t change):






 

The answer to this question will be available at the end of the Summer Challenge. If you think you have the answer, why not let us know on Twitter @galore_park, Instagram @galore_park or Facebook @galore1park.

 
Page 14 in the Galore Park 11+ Non-Verbal Reasoning Study and Revision Guide explains more about what is important in Non-Verbal Reasoning questions, includes more examples and provides further practice exercises.

 

4.  Working with numbers and proportion

Number and proportion are represented in Non-Verbal Reasoning with shapes, lines and shading. Children may be expected to spot the number of shapes, lines or even angles in a series of pictures. In other questions the differences may relate to the size of shapes, lines and angles.

Problems involving numbers

Number patterns occur very frequently in non-verbal reasoning questions. In some of the more difficult questions, there is a ‘number connection’ between two different elements, as explained here.

Common problems include the number of:

  • shapes (2-D or 3-D)

  • sides or angles in shapes                               

  • coloured shapes

  • lines or intersections on a line

  • breaks in a shape (as shown here with three breaks in each oval).  [diagram from p28 of the Non-Verbal Reasoning  Revision Guide]    



              



In some non-verbal reasoning questions, rather than spotting differences you are asked to find what the pictures have in common.

The two pictures below have a number pattern in common. However, as the number of lines, circles and angles are all different, the answer is a bit more subtle.

Ask your child to see if they can spot the connection before reading the explanation underneath.






The connection in these pictures is that the number of intersections (the number of times the thinner line crosses the thicker line) is the same as the number of circles: two in the first picture and four in the second.


Non-Verbal Reasoning Challenge Question Three...
 

 

Look at the first three pictures and decide what they have in common.
Now select the option from the five pictures below that belongs to the same set.





 

The answer to this question will be available at the end of the Summer Challenge. If you think you have the answer, why not let us know on Twitter @galore_park, Instagram @galore_park or Facebook @galore1park.
 

Page 28 in the Galore Park 11+ Non-Verbal Reasoning Study and Revision Guide explains more about working with numbers in Non-Verbal Reasoning questions, includes more examples and provides further practice exercises.

 

Problems involving size and proportion

Another common theme in Non-Verbal Reasoning questions is where the size of the elements changes. If the question is asking for children to compare how one picture changes to make another then proportion is often involved.

Here are some of the ways that size and proportion are used in Non-Verbal Reasoning questions:

  • different sizes and shapes

  • varying lengths of lines

  • fractions of shapes including shapes that overlap (as shown here). [diagram from p30 of the Non-Verbal Reasoning Revision Guide]

     


     

 




The question below shows a typical Non-Verbal Reasoning question where children are asked to spot what has changed between two pictures.


Non-Verbal Reasoning Challenge Question Four...


Ask your child to answer the question, looking carefully at the changes in the proportions of the shapes.

Look at the two pictures on the left connected by an arrow. Decide how the first picture has been changed to create the second. Now apply the same rule to the third picture and choose the correct answer from the selection below. 





The answer to this question will be available at the end of the Summer Challenge. If you think you have the answer, why not let us know on Twitter @galore_park, Instagram @galore_park or Facebook @galore1park.
 
Page 30 in the Galore Park 11+ Non-Verbal Reasoning Study and Revision Guide explains more about working with size and proportion in non-verbal reasoning questions, includes more examples and provides further practice exercises.

 

5. Bringing it all together

Once your child has learned the basics of non-verbal reasoning, finding out about how other maths skills such as rotations and translations work in these questions, they will be ready to tackle even the most challenging problems that appear in their 11+ exam.   

You will have noticed that questions tend to involve several elements and areas of maths, even in the few examples you have seen here.

Ask your child to have a go at this final question using all the skills they have learned in this blog before planning a well-deserved treat for you all!



Non-Verbal Reasoning Challenge Question Five...

 

Look at these pictures. Identify the one that is most unlike the others.



 

The answer to this question will be available at the end of the Summer Challenge. If you think you have the answer, why not let us know on Twitter @galore_park, Instagram @galore_park or Facebook @galore1park.
 

The Galore Park 11+ Non-Verbal Reasoning Study and Revision Guide provides tests as the end of each section as well as a final test at the end of the book to test your child has acquired all the necessary skills to succeed in their Non-Verbal Reasoning 11+ papers.


In the meantime, if you need a little Non-Verbal Reasoning help, take a look at our Non-Verbal Reasoning Revision Guide for 11+ and pre-tests. Covering all the key content for pre-tests and 11+ independent school entrance exams, this vital revision guide will ensure confidence in every topic with end-of-chapter tests and a comprehensive progress record.
Buy now for only £12.99

We also sell an 11+ Non-Verbal Reasoning Revision Pack which will take your child step-by-step through their NVR revision - consolidating knowledge, teaching children how to apply this knowledge in questions, and finally building confidence and exam technique.


   
                                 


 

Tags: 11+, 11, 11 plus, 11plus, challenge, Exam Preparation, Exam tips, non-verbal, Non-Verbal Reasoning, pre-tests, revision, Revision Guide, Revision Tips

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