Non-Verbal Reasoning

What is Non-verbal Reasoning?

Non-verbal reasoning (NVR) tests spatial and visual reasoning skills and can be an indicator of the logical reasoning and intelligence required for STEM subjects.

The tests appear in pictorial and diagrammatic forms rather than using language

NVR is the ability to solve problems using visual information such as the relationship between two shapes or diagrams.

We may not realise it, but Non-verbal reasoning is something all of us (including children) do every day. Non-verbal Reasoning is not exclusive to exams, whether 11 plus exams or exams for professional assessments.

We all use non-verbal reasoning in our daily lives. This could be something as simple as the tone of your ‘good morning’ to how we sit or the slightest gesture of the hand or eyebrow.


Non-verbal Reasoning is taking anything that is not verbal (i.e. written or oral) and analysing the information for a given purpose. NVR is most commonly in a written exam. In the Eleven Plus Exam, Non-verbal Reasoning can be up to half of the test. Testing Non-verbal Reasoning can be in more than one form. It could be a full paper (for example a GL paper) or be incorporated within the paper, as in the University of Durham (CEM) paper.

When are Non-Verbal Reasoning Tests used?

Non-verbal Reasoning tests are a key component of most 11 plus exams for many grammar school and independent school exams. 

There are also many organisations that use these tests to assess candidates’ technical ability. In England, for example, The Financial Ombudsman.

According to INDVSTRVS, over 75% of the Times Top 100 companies in the UK apply psychometric testing (verbal or non-verbal) as part of their selection process.


Which Grammar Schools use Non-verbal Reasoning in their Tests?

Almost all 11 plus exams will have some form of Non-verbal reasoning in their tests. For a full list of grammar schools and the tests they use, click here.


What does a Non-verbal reasoning test consist of?

There is a very wide range of Non-verbal reasoning question types. They can vary greatly so it is best to check first what papers the borough or school use. This will give you an indication of the question types that may appear in the final exam.

In the 11 Plus The most common Non-verbal Reasoning tests are the GL Assessment (formerly NFER) papers. The CEM tests introduced 2D and 3D shape questions, and now, many GL papers have now also included in the eleven plus exam.

To make it easier for you, we have created a free downloadable page with the various Non-verbal reasoning question types. (As these can change without much notice, please ensure that you have checked with the registering body as to who is supplying the exam)

Where there are areas where there are no sample papers or past papers available, it would be sensible to cover a wider range of question types. 

Verbal Reasoning

How can I help my child at home?

In order to answer Non-verbal Reasoning questions quickly and effectively, your child will require strong visual and logic skills. A strong aptitude for lateral thinking and solving puzzles is the best preparation for Non-verbal Reasoning Tests. For this reason, it is important to start your child on puzzles such as Jenga and jigsaws at a very early age and continue with that throughout. 

Beyond that, the other skill required is to be able to answer each question style quickly and effectively. This comes through familiarisation and practice.

The best place to start is our Non-verbal Reasoning books. The books provide detailed explanations on how to answer a question and practice materials. We would recommend that full papers are attempted once each question style is mastered.


How can Redbridge Tuition help my child?

At Redbridge Tuition, we have been preparing children for the Eleven Plus Exams for over 15 years. Our team of expert tutors will guide you through the process, whether you are looking for help with just the Non-verbal reasoning tests or help with preparing for the Eleven Plus Exam in full.

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