11 Plus Non-Verbal Reasoning Syllabus Breakdown

Are you preparing your child for the 11 Plus exam and feeling overwhelmed by the non-verbal reasoning section? Don’t worry; you’re not alone! This part of the exam can be tricky, but with a clear understanding of the syllabus, you can help your child succeed. 

In a nutshell, non-verbal reasoning tests assess a child’s ability to understand and analyse visual information. It uses shapes, patterns, and images to evaluate logical thinking and problem-solving skills.

In this article, we’ll break down the 11 Plus non-verbal reasoning syllabus to give you a detailed overview of what to expect.

What Are the Key Topics in the 11 Plus Non-Verbal Reasoning Syllabus?

The non-verbal reasoning section covers various topics designed to test different aspects of visual and spatial understanding. Here’s a breakdown of the main areas you can expect:

Pattern Recognition and Completion


Identify the next shape in a series by recognising the pattern governing the sequence. This involves observing the shapes’ attributes, such as size, orientation, shading, and relative positions, to predict the next element.


Determine the relationship between pairs of shapes and find the missing shape that completes the analogy. This requires understanding the transformation or correlation between the first pair and applying it to the second pair.


Fill in the missing element of a matrix by understanding the relationship among the given elements. This requires identifying the pattern or rule that applies across rows and columns to determine the missing shape.


Odd One Out

Identify the shape that does not belong in a group based on its properties. This involves comparing shapes’ attributes to find the one that differs from the rest in some significant way.

Shape Classification

Group shapes based on common characteristics such as shape, size, colour, or pattern. This skill involves recognising similarities and differences to classify the shapes correctly.

Spatial Awareness

2D and 3D Shapes

Understand and manipulate both 2D and 3D shapes. This involves visualising how 2D shapes form 3D objects and understanding the properties of 3D shapes.

Cubes and Nets

Visualise how a 2D net folds into a 3D cube and vice versa. This skill requires understanding how flat shapes can be assembled to form solid objects.

Rotation and Reflection

Recognise how shapes look when rotated or reflected. This involves visualising the orientation changes and determining how the shape appears after transformation.

Problem-solving and Logical Deduction

Embedded Figures

Identify a specific shape hidden within a larger, complex shape. This skill requires keen observation and the ability to isolate the smaller shape from the larger one mentally.

Codes and Symbols

Decode a series of symbols based on a given rule or pattern. This involves recognising the underlying logic or rule that governs the sequence of symbols.

How Can You Prepare Your Child for Non-verbal Reasoning?

Preparing for the non-verbal reasoning section requires practice and familiarity with different types of questions. Here are the top tips to help your child with NVR:

Use Effective Practice Methods

  • Practice Papers: Regularly working through practice papers can help your child become familiar with the types of non-verbal reasoning questions and time constraints.
  • Online Resources and Apps: There are numerous online resources and educational apps designed to improve non-verbal reasoning skills through interactive exercises and games.

Make Learning Fun

  • Puzzle Games: Engage your child with puzzle games like jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, or pattern-based games that develop logical thinking and spatial awareness.
  • Visual Aids: Use visual aids like shape blocks or drawing tools to help your child understand complex patterns and shapes.

Master the 11 Plus

A unique, confidence-boosting way to study for the 11 Plus

Final Thoughts

Understanding the 11 Plus non-verbal reasoning syllabus is the first step in helping your child excel in this challenging section of the exam. By familiarising yourself with the key topics and effective preparation methods, you can support your child in developing the skills needed to succeed. 

Remember, practice and patience are key. With the right approach, you can make learning both effective and enjoyable for your child. Happy studying!