Introduction to the 11 plus (11+) non-verbal reasoning exam
Non-verbal reasoning is often considered the most intimidating of the 11+ exams, as the question types are so unfamiliar. Non-verbal reasoning assesses a child’s ability to analyse visual information and solve problems using visuals like shapes and diagrams. Non-verbal reasoning is the opposite of verbal reasoning, which evaluates a child’s language-based analysis skills. Candidates who take the time to familiarise themselves with non-verbal reasoning question types and how to answer them have a distinct advantage in the exam.
Non-verbal reasoning is not part of the Key Stage 2 national curriculum, so it is unlikely that your child would have seen these types of questions at school. This can cause unnecessary stress on exam day, and your child could waste time just trying to figure out what to do, so it is essential that they are familiar with non-verbal reasoning before they take the 11+.
In a non-verbal reasoning exam, your child will be expected to:
- Solve maths questions
- Use their logic and problem-solving skills
- Identify patterns and their rules
- Have spatial awareness
The first step in preparing for the 11+ non-verbal reasoning exam is knowing what to expect from the paper, including structure, question type and content.
The exact format of your child’s 11+ paper will depend on the exam board or school that administers the test. For example, Granda Learning (GL Assessment) structures its tests differently from Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM), so it is vital that you know which examining body is administering the exam and what your child can expect from this assessment.
The types of questions in the 11 plus (11+) non-verbal reasoning exam
Your child could receive many different types of questions in their 11+ non-verbal reasoning exam. Below are some of the topics your child could face in this exam:
- Odd one out
- Your child will be given sets of images, and they have to work out which one doesn’t fit with the others.
- Matrix questions
- Students must complete a grid or matrix by identifying the rules the rows and columns follow and applying them to identify the missing shape.
- Pupils must determine the pattern of shapes and select the answer that completes the gap(s) in the sequence.
- Shape pairs
- Candidates are shown a complete and incomplete set of pairs. In each pair, the first image becomes the second by following a rule. Children must figure out the rule and apply it to the incomplete pair to select the correct answer.
- In code questions, candidates are given a set of images that each correspond to a two or three-letter code.
- A feature in the image is represented by a letter in the code.
- Children must determine which feature the letter represents and then choose the letters for the last image.
How to help your child prepare for the 11 plus (11+) non-verbal reasoning exam
- Practice papers and resources
Working through papers can help students become familiar with the exam format, question types and time constraints. It also allows you or your child’s teacher to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Focus on areas where they struggle and allocate more time to practice those specific topics.
Numerous resources are available to aid in preparation, including revision guides, online resources, and tutor support. At Examberry, we offer a wide range of 11+ revision resources and 11+ practice papers to try. Here, you can access practice papers for non-verbal reasoning, enabling you to precisely determine your child’s strengths and the areas they need to work on. We also have a variety of area and school-specific resources, so you can find tailored support for the school your child is applying to.
- Work on analytical skills
Engaging your child in activities that enhance their analytical and spatial awareness skills is a great way to prepare for the 11+ non-verbal reasoning exam.
Introducing them to fun exercises, such as puzzles, games, and other brainteasers, can help them develop their understanding of non-verbal reasoning and make learning more enjoyable.
You could also introduce them to interactive learning tools, such as apps and websites, which often use vibrant visuals, exercises, and reward systems to motivate children.
- Timed exercises
Teaching your child to allocate their time wisely during the exam is vital in preparing for the 11+. Whilst using practice papers is an excellent way to prepare for the 11+ exam, enforcing proper timings is necessary for your child to get used to the constraints and pressure of the real exam.
Regularly giving your child timed tests helps them get used to exam conditions, fostering familiarity with the time constraints and improving speed and accuracy in solving problems.
- Establish a balanced routine and study schedule
A consistent and balanced study routine is vital for preparing for the 11+ exam. Having a regular study plan, setting time aside each day and staying organised can ensure your child has plenty of time to practise. Encouraging your child to adopt a balanced routine incorporating study, relaxation, physical activity, and sufficient sleep can help maintain their mental well-being and concentration levels.
A structured schedule also helps you, your child’s teacher, or maybe even a private tutor track which topics they have covered and determine how much time they need to spend on each subject.
- Provide support and offer constructive feedback
You should maintain open communication with your child about their concerns and progress. Offer support, encouragement, and constructive feedback, and reassure them of their capabilities.
Encouraging your child consistently, emphasising effort over results, and offering reassurance will help build their confidence and reduce anxiety in the lead-up to their 11+ exams.
Providing your child with regular constructive feedback is crucial for their learning. Focus on their strengths and encourage them to check, proofread, and edit their work. Praise your child’s efforts and reassure them that making mistakes is a part of the learning process.
One of the most effective way to prepare for an 11+ entrance exam is to use practice tests written by experts.
We offer a range of 11+ revision resources including area & school-specific papers, subject-specific papers, spelling & vocabulary resources, and reading books.
Each of our practice tests: