Fifteen 11+ Non-Verbal Reasoning Tips

Among the various components of the 11 Plus exam, the non-verbal reasoning test remains an intriguing and challenging exam for students.

Excelling in this section requires more than just academic prowess—it demands sharp spatial reasoning, keen visual perception, and an ability to solve problems efficiently. 

In this article, we will explore the intricacies of non-verbal reasoning, explain why it can be challenging, and provide you with unique tips to help improve your child’s non-verbal reasoning skills and prepare them for success.

What is Non-Verbal Reasoning?

Non-verbal reasoning involves solving problems using visual information. It requires students to interpret and analyse patterns, shapes, and sequences without relying on words and language-based techniques.

This skill set is critical in assessing a child’s ability to understand and process visual data, which is often presented in shapes in various configurations, patterns, and sequences.

What Makes Non-Verbal Reasoning Questions Challenging?

Unlike other subjects that align closely with the national curriculum and are taught in primary school, non-verbal reasoning demands a different cognitive approach and preparation.   

Children must be adept at visualising and manipulating shapes, which can be a significant shift from their usual school work. Testing a child’s spatial awareness and capability to recognise patterns and relationships between shapes makes the non-verbal reasoning exam papers daunting. 

Furthermore, the pressure of timed exam tests such as the 11 Plus admission test to grammar schools adds to the difficulty, as it requires quick and accurate thinking. 

Fortunately, any child can be taught these competencies with the right attitude and guidance.

How to Improve Non-Verbal Reasoning 11+

Non-Verbal Reasoning Tips

Improving non-verbal reasoning for the 11+ exam is crucial for success. Here are top tips to enhance your child’s non-verbal reasoning proficiency:

Understand Question Types

Familiarise your child with different types of non-verbal reasoning questions. Examples are odd one-out shapes, sequences, folding shapes, rotating anti-clockwise, matching two-shapes, and code-breaking tests. This helps a child prepare and fully understand what is expected.     

Know the Exam Boards

Different exam boards may have varying formats and question types. Make sure your child practices with materials specific to the exam board by which they will be tested. Understanding the unique question styles of a particular exam board can help them be better prepared. 

Use Visual Aids and Puzzles

Engage your child with visual puzzles like jigsaw puzzles, tangrams, and even physical objects. These activities improve spatial reasoning and allow for easily finding similarities and differences between shapes.

Visual aids can also make abstract concepts more concrete and easier to grasp and are excellent tools to reinforce learning and make it more engaging. 

Drill on Spatial Awareness

Activities that involve spatial or dimensional awareness, such as building models or playing with construction toys, can significantly enhance the aptitude of a child to visualise and manipulate shapes.

Constructing models can help them understand how different shapes fit together, which is crucial for non-verbal reasoning tests.

Teach Pattern Recognition

Help your child identify and understand the pattern in everyday objects. This can include looking at tile designs, wallpaper patterns, or even nature.

For example, examining the symmetry in leaves or the repetitive arrangement of tiles can sharpen their mind to recognise shapes and patterns, which is a key skill in non-verbal reasoning. 

Develop Problem-Solving Strategies

Train your child with different strategies to approach and solve problems, such as breaking down complex shapes into simpler parts.

Showing them how to deconstruct a larger shape into smaller, manageable sections can help them find the answer more efficiently during the test.

Encourage Logical Thinking

Help your child develop logical thinking by solving puzzles and riddles together. This will strengthen their capability to approach non-verbal reasoning questions methodically.

For example, working on a complex shape puzzle together can help them approach problems step-by-step, ensuring they arrive at the correct answer. 

Focus on Weak Areas

Identify your child’s weak areas through their practice results and concentrate on improving those specific skills. This targeted approach can yield significant improvements. If, for example, they struggle with folding shapes, dedicate more study time to that area to improve their confidence.

Practice Regularly

Consistent practice with non-verbal reasoning papers and sample questions is essential. This helps children become familiar with various question types they might encounter. Regular training also enables them to identify the right answer quickly, which is vital during the exam. 

Timed Practice Sessions

Conduct timed practice sessions to simulate exam conditions. This helps children manage their time effectively during the actual exam. Setting a timer while they work on a set of non-verbal reasoning questions can help them gauge how quickly they need to find the correct answer.

Do Mock Tests

Use mock exams to assess your child’s progress. Mock tests provide a realistic experience and help identify areas needing improvement. They can also highlight which types of questions are most challenging, allowing for targeted practice.

Review and Reflect

After completing practice papers, review the answers with your child. Discuss why certain answers are correct and where they went wrong to reinforce learning. For example, examine why a particular shape fits in a sequence, helping them understand the logic behind the answer and avoid similar mistakes in the future.

Take Advantage of Online Tools

Numerous online tools and apps are designed to improve 11 Plus core skills, including non-verbal reasoning. These interactive platforms can make learning more engaging. This includes apps that offer a variety of shape-based puzzles and provide a fun way to train and improve. 

Use a Variety of Resources

To provide a well-rounded preparation, use a mix of practice papers, mock exams, and interactive online resources. This variety ensures that your child is exposed to various exam boards’ different question formats and styles. Also, using both physical test papers and digital puzzles can keep study sessions diverse and engaging.

Incorporate Fun Activities

Use games like chess or video games that require strategic thinking and problem-solving. These can improve the potential to process visual information and think critically. Additionally, such games can enhance concentration and foster a love for learning.

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How to Improve Non-verbal Reasoning Skills

Non-Verbal Reasoning - Shape and Pattern Recognition

Improving non-verbal reasoning skills requires a mix of training, strategy, and understanding. It goes beyond preparing for the exam. Here are some strategies to enhance these competencies:  

Puzzle Books

Provide puzzle books that challenge your child to think critically and recognise shapes. These books often contain a variety of problems that can help improve different aspects of non-verbal reasoning.

Getting familiar with these puzzles can build confidence and proficiency over time. 

Interactive Learning

Use interactive tools and apps such as educational software, videos, and games that delve into pattern, shape recognition, and spatial reasoning. These tools can make learning more engaging and enjoyable for children.

Additionally, they often offer immediate feedback, which helps children understand their mistakes and learn more effectively.

Visualisation Techniques

Teach your child to visualise problems and solutions mentally before working on them. This can help them develop a stronger spatial or dimensional awareness and improve their capability to manipulate and understand shape or abstract concepts. Encourage them to use drawings or models to represent the problems they are solving.

Daily Study

Incorporate daily study sessions, even if short, to keep your child’s skills sharp and fresh. Regular practice helps solidify learning and makes it easier for children to retain and recall information. Creating a consistent routine can also foster good study habits and discipline.

Collaborative Learning

Study groups or partner activities can provide different perspectives and solutions, thus enriching the learning experience. By working with others, children learn new strategies and approaches to solving problems. It also encourages communication and teamwork, which are valuable beyond non-verbal reasoning.

How Can I Help My Child With Non-Verbal Reasoning?

11+ Non-Verbal Reasoning Tips

Parents play a crucial role in helping their children prepare for the 11+ Non-verbal reasoning exam. Here are some ways to assist:

Provide Preparation Resources

Ensure your child has access to a variety of practice papers, books, and the best resources online. Diverse materials expose your child to different types of questions and problem-solving methods. Regularly update your resources to keep the study material fresh and challenging.

Create a Study Schedule

Establish a regular study schedule that balances study and training with breaks to avoid burnout. A consistent schedule helps shape and build discipline and ensures steady progress. Include time for relaxation and other activities to maintain a healthy balance.

Monitor Progress

Keep track of your child’s progress and adjust the study plan as needed. Regular assessments can highlight areas that need more focus and allow for timely interventions. Also, celebrate small achievements to keep your child motivated and confident.

Improve Test-Taking Strategies

Equip your child with effective test-taking strategies, such as: 

  • Time Management: Train your child to manage their time wisely, ensuring they have enough time to answer all questions.
  • Process of Elimination: Encourage your child to eliminate obviously incorrect answers, which increases the chances of selecting the correct answer.
  • Double-Checking Work: If time allows, ask your child to review their answer to catch any mistakes.       

Encourage a Positive Mindset

Foster a positive attitude towards challenges and mistakes. Reinforce that practice makes perfect and improvement is a gradual process. Encourage your child to view mistakes as learning opportunities rather than setbacks.

Be Involved

Actively participate in your child’s learning. Review practice questions together and discuss strategies for solving problems. Your involvement shows support and can provide valuable insights into your child’s thought process and learning style.

Seek Professional Help

If necessary, consider hiring a tutor who specialises in 11+ Non-verbal reasoning to provide targeted assistance and structured learning.

A tutor can offer personalised guidance and address specific weaknesses. They can also introduce advanced techniques and strategies to enhance your child’s performance.

Final Thoughts

Excelling in the 11 Plus Non-verbal reasoning requires a combination of training, strategy, and the right resources. By understanding the nature of Non-verbal reasoning questions and implementing the tips provided, you can significantly enhance your child’s ability to solve these problems effectively.

Remember, each child progresses at their own pace, so patience and encouragement are key to their success.