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Understanding Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning

Understanding Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning

11 Plus | December 10, 2018

Verbal and non-verbal reasoning are essential sections of the 11 Plus exam, yet most children are not familiar with them.

The 11 Plus exam consists of four main sections: Verbal Reasoning, Non-verbal Reasoning, English and Mathematics.

Prior to preparing for the exam, most children may be completely unfamiliar with the former two sections.

Verbal Reasoning and Non-verbal Reasoning are not required school subjects as part of the national curriculum.

Primary schools typically teach English and Mathematics as part of the Key Stage 2 National Curriculum.

However, the 11 Plus examination syllabus includes questions for English and Mathematics that are at the Year 6 standard.

Since the 11 Plus exam is usually taken at the beginning of Year 6, most children taking the exam have not yet attained the required level of proficiency in these subjects to pass the exam.

It is essential to note that some school authorities may include more advanced English and Mathematics questions than those found in the Key Stage 2 National Curriculum standard in their 11 Plus exam.

Verbal Reasoning and Non-verbal Reasoning are not typically taught in primary schools and are therefore not commonly included in the curriculum.

However, students may be introduced to some elements of these subjects when learning other disciplines such as English, Mathematics, Science, Design Technology, Art, and Computing.

This lack of explicit exposure to these subjects in their early academic years can make this portion of the 11 Plus exam exceptionally challenging for most students.

In order to help you and your child understand these sections of the exam, we have broken them down for you.

While this article will cover the fundamentals of Verbal Reasoning and Non-verbal Reasoning, the most effective way to get familiarised with these sections is to practice.

For more information, see our mock examination page.

Verbal and Non-verbal Reasoning is taught during Private Tuition

Verbal Reasoning

Verbal Reasoning tests a child’s vocabulary range, as well as their ability to solve problems with words.

Generally, this section of the exam is difficult to master through just revision alone. Reading and writing typically help to improve Verbal Reasoning ability.

This exam can be challenging as it involves a lot of thought and mental computation. Below is a simple example of the type of questions your child may receive.

In this particular question, your child is faced with a pair of incomplete words.

One is missing the last letter, and the second word is missing the first letter. Your child must determine the missing letter that completes both words.

For instance:


In this case, the answer is H.

Other examples of questions include working out which letters respond to numbers in a code and recognising patterns in words.

Those with an extensive vocabulary range generally perform better than others.

Playing word-based games like Scrabble will help improve a child’s vocabulary.

Non-verbal Reasoning

Non-verbal Reasoning involves problem-solving and critical thinking without using vocabulary.

Pictures and diagrams are used to test a child’s ability to analyse information.

Typical questions include choosing the odd one out or recognising specific patterns to guess the next pattern in the sequence.

The best way to fully grasp Non-verbal Reasoning is through practice questions.

It can be incredibly hard to understand the objective of the question if you have never seen examples before.

Furthermore, a lot of children benefit from tutoring for this exam, as having a guiding hand makes the skills a lot easier to learn.

11 Plus Mock Exam

Mock tests for these sections of the 11 Plus are freely available on the internet.

Through enough practice, children will be able to develop and improve in both verbal and non-verbal reasoning, despite not being taught them in schools.

Tuition Tree can guide you and your child through the entire 11 Plus exam process. We ensure every child enters with the confidence to succeed in all areas of the exam.

To enquire about tuition, please fill out a contact form.


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