Verbal Reasoning

What is Verbal Reasoning?

Verbal reasoning (VR) is part of one of four cognitive skills (concentration, perception, memory and logic) that helps us communicate with others.

We may not realise it, but verbal reasoning is something all of us (including children) do every day. Verbal Reasoning is not restricted to any one language. 

In our daily lives, this could be something as simple as understanding what we have read or what we have heard and then applying that to any relevant tasks.


Verbal Reasoning is taking anything verbal (written or oral) and analysing the information for a given purpose. It can be tested in various ways, but by far, the most common is in a written exam. In the Eleven Plus Exams, verbal reasoning is a large proportion of the test. Testing verbal reasoning can be in more than one form. It could be a full paper (for example a GL paper) or part of a test (for example The CEM paper). It may be added to the end of a paper, as in the case of a CSSE exam or incorporated within the paper, as in the University of Durham (CEM) paper.

Preparing Your Child for the Verbal Reasoning Test

When are Verbal Reasoning Tests used?

Verbal reasoning tests are a key component of the 11 plus exams for many grammar school and independent school exams. 

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

Many retail companies use reasoning tests as part of their recruitment process.

Which Grammar Schools use Verbal Reasoning in their Tests?

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


What does a verbal reasoning test consist of?

There is a very wide range of 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 Verbal Reasoning tests are the GL Assessment (formerly NFER) papers.

To make it easier for you, we have created a free downloadable page with every topic and question type required for 11+ grammar school exams. (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. 

Non-Verbal Reasoning

How can I help my child at home?

In order to answer Verbal Reasoning questions quickly and effectively, your child will require a strong vocabulary base and an ability to decode words. A strong etymology base is the best preparation for Verbal Reasoning Tests. For this reason, it is important to start reading with him/her at an early age and to continue with that throughout. Exposure to a variety of styles helps with understanding and decoding. 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 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 verbal reasoning tests or help with preparing for the Eleven Plus Exam in full.

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