Tests Your Children Will Take – Part 5 of a 6 Part Series For Parents.

PART FIVE – Non-verbal Reasoning Paper

Non-verbal reasoning is not subject that your child will study as part of their school curriculum, but it is dependent on a set of core skills integral to maths, science, design and technology. It does not rely on literacy skills: all the questions are in pictorial or diagrammatic form.

The exact scope and content of an 11+ non-verbal reasoning test will differ across UK regions, but a typical paper will test your child’s ability to:

  • Process graphic or pictorial information
  • Apply logical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Understand how objects relate to each other in space (spatial awareness)
  • Find and follow patterns and rules
  • Apply maths skills: rotation, reflection and symmetry
  • Work systematically

All non-verbal reasoning questions can be categorized into four main groups and a set of 10 question types. These questions practise most of the types.

Group 1: Identifying shapes

  1. Recognise shapes that are similar and different
  2. Identify shapes and patterns
  3. Pair up shapes

These question types test understanding and recognition of shape and pattern. They rely on the ability to:

  • Find shapes that are similar or different
  • Sort given shapes or symbols according to their common features


Group 2: Missing shapes

  1. Find shapes that complete a sequence
  2. Find a given part within a shape
  3. Find a missing shape from a pattern

These question types also test understanding of shape and pattern. They rely on the ability to:

  • Identify and apply a rule
  • See shapes within shapes and patterns within patterns
  • Make deductions from given sets of objects or symbols

Group 3: Rotating shapes

  1. Recognise mirror shapes
  2. Link nets to cubes

The principles of reflection and rotation of shapes form the basis of a range of non-verbal reasoning question types. These question types test:

  • Understanding of symmetry
  • Knowledge of 3-D shapes
  • Spatial awareness

Group 4: Coded shapes and logic

  1. Code and decode shapes
  2. Apply shape logic

These question types test understanding of shape and logic skills. They rely on your ability to:

  • Think systematically and make decisions
  • Find and apply a given rule
  • Identify common features
  • See shapes within shapes