Non-verbal reasoning – sounds daunting! ‘Non-verbal reasoning is problem-solving based around pictures, diagrams and shapes, rather than words,’ explains Stephen McConkey of Eleven Plus Exam Papers. It is a skill that involves solving problems using visual clues, logic and inferring. 
Non verbal reasoning is part of the 11 plus curriculum; it consists of shapes which rotate, flip, change colour, link, enclose, stretch, enlarge, reduce, squash, stretch amongst other things. Some students have a natural understanding of decoding a question while others students really struggle. 
Having tutored many children through the 11 plus curriculum, it is interesting to see how each child looks at a question from a different perspective. Non verbal reasoning is viewing the world through pictures. 
Let’s bring this to life with an example as seen on the picture below. 
Which figure on the right is most similar to the figures on the left? 
What is going on? 
On the left there are two shapes which are similar. How are they similar? What is the story? I ask my students to ask themselves those two questions and then start looking for clues. What are the clues that are in the shapes? 
Let’s have a look. 
1. Both shapes on the left are free-hand line drawn. 
2. One shape has a circular shape inside, the other shape does not. 
3. Both shapes have an arrow with an arrow head inside the shape. 
4. The arrow-head is touching the edge of the inside of the shapes. 
The clues have been identified, and now we can look at each answer to decipher which answer is most similar to the two shapes on the left. 
Shape A- the lines are drawn fee-handed but the arrow is clearly outside the shape. 
Shape B- the lines are drawn fee-handed but the arrow-head is extended outside the shape. 
Shape C- the lines are drawn fee-handed and the arrow-head is touching the edge of the inside of the shape. 
Shape D- the lines are drawn fee-handed but there is no arrow-head only a straight line. 
From the clues it is clear that the answer is C. 
These problem solving strategies can also be transferable to other subjects. 
Non verbal reasoning is also used in psychometric testing in interviews to see how well a person can derive meaning, information, and consequences. To improve a child’s skills non-verbal intelligence may be improved by working with hands-on tasks like picture puzzles, blocks, building toys, word puzzles, mazes, and building sets. These are all a great way to teach children about non verbal reasoning at an early age. 
Verbal reasoning is similar; the difference is that words are used and not pictures. 
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