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Non-Verbal Reasoning (NVR) in the 11+ Exam

What is NVR and why is it Important?



NVR revolves around the ability to use spatial awareness and visual cognitive skills to solve abstract puzzles, usually involving shapes and patterns.


NVR is important to develop because we actually use it in our daily lives a fair bit. Non-Verbal Reasoning skills allow us to read blueprints, build and repair furniture and machines, draw, sculpt, craft and plan in advance (for instance, if we hear there will be rain later on, NVR ensures we will pack a coat or umbrella before we leave the house). It also allows young adults starting college and university to organise large sets of information and copy information from lectures.


Here is an example of a NVR question your child might come across in the exam:


  1. Which shape is most unlike the others? (the answer is D as the shaded shape is in the back compared to the front).


Who Might Find NVR Difficult and how to Combat it?


Not only is NVR not generally taught in primary schools, but those who have Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities (NVLD) such as dyspraxia may have a hard time navigating the spatial skills necessary to excel at NVR-based questions. If this is the first time your children have been introduced to NVR questions there are ways you can prep them for their examination and go over some examples at home.


CGP have made several books on NVR for 11+ to familiarise themselves with the content, revising it and practicing example questions. It is recommended that your children go over several examples of NVR before attempting to answer questions so they are more comfortable with the content and better able to identify patterns such as shapes, colour, layering, elimination, rotations and counting.


Those with NVLD's will need extra coaching and leniencies given to them such as giving extra time and rest breaks to allow your children to process all of the information in front of them. Parents of a child with a NVLD should inform their examiners beforehand so they can be given the appropriate changes to their examination process ahead of time.


Fun games to play that inadvertently get your children practicing their NVR skills involve jigsaws, building with legos, spot the difference, Where's Wally, playing dominos, cards and cutting out foldable shapes to check for symmetry. Making NVR a fun part of your child's life will take a lot of the pressure off when confronted with an exam-style question.





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