Verbal [VR] and Non Verbal Reasoning [NVR]

Verbal [VR] and Non Verbal Reasoning [NVR]

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Verbal [VR] and Non Verbal Reasoning [NVR] – What are these?

This can comprise all or part of the 11+ examination [dependent on which school you apply for] so failure to practise would be foolhardy.  Unfortunately, most primary schools do not teach these subjects as standard except for the ‘feeder’ schools that are aware that their pupils will need to be ‘skilled up’ in order to succeed.

In a nutshell, your child’s results will help a school predict how well a child thinks about vocabulary and problem solving.  In turn, this helps the school have an idea of how well your child will perform academically in the future and not just when sitting the 11+ test.

There is also no predicting what will appear on the paper but there are specialist packs available [e.g. GL Assessment] which should be used for practice.  Also, check your chosen school’s website for their guidance and sample questions.  Many other grammar/private schools include useful extracts on their websites so a search on the internet is well worth the effort.

Verbal [VR] and Non Verbal Reasoning [NVR] – there’s FREE stuff out there

There is plenty available out there that’s free of charge and all you need to do is search according to your specific requirements.  However, I have included some information that may assist you in my blog, ‘The Best 11 Plus Resources’.  However, a good starting point is the internet which has lots of free puzzle pages including: word search, Sudoku [yes, maths can be part of verbal reasoning!] and crosswords.

As far as advanced verbal reasoning is concerned, vocabulary books are widely available from book retailers and sites like Amazon.  If you can stretch to it financially, flashcards are a great way of learning new words every day.  Your child needs to be familiar with: –

  • Synonyms [words with a similar meaning]
  • Antonyms [words opposite in meaning]
  • Compound words [when two words are ‘glued’ together to make one word e.g foot and ball to make football]

They can be left around the house, on the backs of doors and in the car etc so that your child is constantly learning about new words.

As a result, you will find that this increased knowledge of vocabulary will greatly assist your child’s creative writing skills.

Playing games to enhance strategy and problem solving skills for non verbal reasoning are also useful such as: –

Verbal [VR] and Non Verbal Reasoning [NVR] – Understanding shortcuts

On a final note, if you’re short on time and have left preparation a little bit to the last minute there are still things you can do: –

Verbal [VR] and Non Verbal Reasoning [NVR] – Roots of Words for VR

Understanding the ‘root’ of a word can quickly assist your child understand a wider range of vocabulary in a shorter space of time.  Lists of common Latin and Greek words can be found on the internet but here are some examples: –

  • Aqua [Latin] – this relates to water.  Example words: aquarium / aquatic
  • Mater [Latin] – this relates to mother.  Example words: maternity / maternal
  • Fort [Latin] – this means strength.  Example words: fortitude / fortress
  • Auto [Greek] – this means self.  Example words: autobiography / automobile
  • Graph [Greek] – this means writing.  Example words: autograph / photograph
  • Therm [Greek] – this means heat.  Example words: thermal / thermometer

Verbal [VR] and Non Verbal Reasoning [NVR] – Prefixes and Suffixes for VR

Prefixes are put at the beginning of a word and suffixes at the end.  Again, understanding the basics can really help if you’re short on time.  Here are just a few examples: –

  • Anti – this means against.  Example words: antisocial / anticlimax
  • Sub – this means under.  Example words: subterranean / subway
  • Semi – this means half.  Example words: semicircle / semifinal
  • -less – this means without.  Example words: hopeless / selfless
  • -en – this means made of.  Example words: golden / wooden
  • -ic – this means having the characteristics of.  Example words: poetic / heroic

Verbal [VR] and Non Verbal Reasoning [NVR] – But What is NVR?

Specialist packs are available and they need to be practised as non-verbal reasoning can be a bit of a shock to the system.  A good starting point is to build up to it gradually by doing ‘spot the difference’ games as this gets your child used to looking for differences and having an eye for detail.  Training your child to ‘stand on their own two feet’ is also great preparation so I would recommend geocaching which helps children understand direction using a compass.  This is brilliant for non verbal reasoning skills

There are also some free samples available on the internet but completing practice packs will be essential and again, a good starting point would be GL Assessment.

Verbal [VR] and Non Verbal Reasoning [NVR] – The skills needed for NVR

The paper itself will contain abstract diagrams that your child needs to examine and determine similarities or differences in the shapes or codes presented to them.  Your child must be able to:-

  • Understand a shape’s relationship with other shapes i.e how they are changing and evolving throughout a process.
  • Use logic / problem solve / code break.
  • Understand which information is relevant and when to ignore what is irrelevant.
  • Mentally visualize the shapes rotating / shifting in direction clockwise and anti-clockwise.
  • Think quickly and efficiently.
  • Apply their mathematical skills and have a firm understanding of symmetry and rotation.
  • Understand the difference between clockwise and anti-clockwise.

When training a child how to do non verbal reasoning I recommend that they tell describe the changes as if they are telling themselves a story.  For example: –

The square is surrounded by a thick black border.

Then, inside the shape there are five circles and one triangle in the top right hand corner ….

The shapes are moving in a clockwise direction through each corner of the square …

That way, it becomes easier to take on board what is actually there as separate components rather than looking at one big scary picture full of shapes.

Using tracing paper and a mirror to understand how the shapes have moved/shifted/reflected is a good starting point.  This is because children can get frustrated and upset by what can seem to be quite a confusing set of visual problems.  This approach should ease them into making the transition from using a traced/mirrored/folded copy of the image to moving the image mentally.  [Remember:  tracing paper and mirrors will NOT be available when your child takes the examination].

Verbal [VR] and Non Verbal Reasoning [NVR] – Practice Makes Perfect

As always, my mantra is ‘Work in Manageable Chunks’ and I can honestly say that this has helped my tutees to progress with their non verbal reasoning practice.

Maintaining a regular practice regime is also essential.  Keeping up the momentum will help get your child used to the test format and in time, they will move further and further outside of their comfort zone.  Don’t leave it to the last minute as this will only create panic which achieves a BIG FAT ZERO!

Good Luck and remember you can contact me on 07407 643547 or email me at for specific information on my bespoke 11+ tuition service.

Here’s to life on your terms,


Rachel a.k.a The Life Hack Tutor

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Verbal and Non Verbal Reasoning

Verbal and Non Verbal Reasoning

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